Summer Party Time!


For the first time since my wedding twenty-six years ago, BOTH sides of my family descended for my daughter’s graduation. While a high school graduation is an auspicious event on its own, I thought it would make for a rare and happy family reunion. Or, as my sister likes to say, kissing two birds with one feather. Fourteen family members arrived for a long weekend, which for us, accustomed to our teeny clutch of three, was a BIG CROWD. But I was ready! Armed with a sheath of lists and a strict itinerary, we made it through: well fed, joyful and with zero drama.


For us, like most families, it’s all about the food. We’re barely through breakfast, when we start planning lunch. And with so much going on (the graduation, two parties and various ceremonial events), I wanted to cook and clean as little as possible. The no-brainer for transplanted New Englanders? Hot, buttery lobster rolls! I ordered three pounds of cooked-and-picked-out-of-the-shell lobster from Atlantic Seafood  in Old Saybrook, then zapped the meat in the microwave, tossed the lot with melted Kate’s butter and served it up in toasted potato rolls, classic style, with chips and salad. Five minute dinner prep and one very happy fam.



I envisioned a simple shindig for the graduates and family at my house, but once the guest list tops 25, it’s rarely simple. A tent was called for. I rang the unflappable Sarah True, renowned wedding planner and my girl for party planning, for some ideas. She’s helped me in the past with large The E List events (remember the-e-fair? I couldn’t have managed it without her). She’s a walking, talking, black book of vendors. The charming sailcloth tent, now available fromTaylor Rental in Westbrook, MADE the party. It was her suggestion, and less expensive than the Sperry version. Read more about Sarah True and why you need her here.
The Pie Table
While adult eating habits can be infuriating (gluten-free, vegan before six, no dairy, you know the drill), teenagers can be downright vexing. So for my daughter’s party, I went with simple grilled chicken, steak and veggie burgers, plus a variety of vegetarian grain salads. Coffee’s Country Market catered the shebang, grilling on-site, and did a fantastic job. The biggest hit? The pie table. Lay out a variety (ours were apple, blueberry and strawberry rhubarb) and watch the crowd dive in.

Chloe, The Photo Bus

While lots of us document our lives incessantly, posting selfies to instagram (guilty!), there’s nothing like a photo booth to catch teenagers in the moment. I had heard about a vintage VW bus tricked out as a photo booth and couldn’t resist. It was decoration and amusement in one, and delighted everyone at the multi-generational party. Seven-year-olds to grandparents took a turn, and came away with a happy memento of the day. Oh, and the pix? We were gorgeous! I’ll never know if it was a special filter or the background, but as owner Geoff Gordon of Photobooth Planet, likes to say, it’s a magic bus. That it was.


Photo Credit: Ania Simpson

Tags: Party, caterer, party rentals, party tents, photo bus, photo booth