Now, this is a complete first world problem, but it is a horrible feeling to fly home from somewhere warm and see your breath the moment you step off the plane. That’s what happened to me when I arrived in Baltimore after an amazing weekend in Palm Beach, FL, for the Red Cross Beach Bash. Besides tickets to the event, we won a two night hotel stay, so we had time to explore Palm Beach and revisit all my favorite places.
Of course we stopped at the Breakers. My family used to spend spring break there and it is one of the most beautiful resorts I've ever been to. I may not be able to afford to spend spring break there on my entry level salary, but I had no problem grabbing some coffee in the courtyard and checking out the Lilly store.
We also went to the hotel's Asian fusion restaurant, Echo—but that experience was so amazing I can write an entire post about it.
The theme of the party was “Under the Sea”—mermaids and all—and the attire was Lilly or louder. I think the attire was my favorite part. Only in Palm Beach is it acceptable to wear pastels all year long (with multiple pastel colors in every outfit). They really take preppy to a whole new level, and I love it. I think my date nailed the Lilly or louder with his Lilly tie, pink pants, orange soled shoes, and seersucker jacket. I may have been a little too muted for Palm Beach, but I can never resist an opportunity to wear sequins.
Besides being a beyond amazing time, the party supports the American Red Cross. Along with disaster relief, the organization also supports military families, is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products, and is the leading provider of health and safety courses. And that's only in the USA. Internationally, the Red Cross has 13 million volunteers in 187 countries working to build safer communities, educate future generations, and respond quickly to disasters. In total, the American Red Cross reaches 100 million people across the globe every year.
If you couldn’t make it to the Beach Bash and want to support the Red Cross, or if you just want to throw a party, here are a few ways your can recreate the bash no matter where you are!
1. Photo Booth
I think photo booths are the best things to make a comeback since fanny packs. People love having pictures to commemorate big events, but when you leave it up to camera phones to document the event, you often end up with people wanting to take large group pictures.
Photo booths may not be able to fit everyone in one picture, but the pictures will be better and more fun to take!
The one at the Beach Bash was set up with a Lilly Pattern background There were also a ton of nautical and party themed props!
What you need:
Backdrop: This can be a bed sheet that you have pinned along the wall or a sheet or two of plywood that you have painted to match your theme. Either way, make sure it is securely mounted against your wall. The last thing you want is it falling halfway through the party.
Camera and tripod: Set up the camera and tripod at a height and distance where the backdrop takes up the entire frame and is friendly to people of all heights. Make sure it is on auto focus or focus it manually and take test pictures.
Props: Search your home for goofy hats, sunglasses and accessories that fit your theme. If you want to buy some props or get ideas, Etsy has a huge selection that will leave you prepared or inspired.
Optional- Camera remote: You can buy these for $20 at Best Buy. If you don’t want to spend the extra money, set the camera on the timer so people can push the button and get in position for the picture.
Optional- Computer and cable: This also isn’t necessary, but I think it is a nice touch. You’ll need to have the software CD that came with your camera and a USB or Firewall cable. Once the software is installed, put your camera on the “tethered” setting (exact wording will vary) and turn your camera off. Connect the camera to your computer and turn the camera on. Your computer should recognize the camera and launch the software. Now the pictures will show up on the computer screen after they are taken and people can see what they look like.
I love to eat and think food is the second greatest part of any event (behind the attire). It’s just so wonderful.
The Beach Bash definitely did not disappoint. There were sliders, calamari, sweet potato or regular potato chips, and lobster mac and cheese to choose from.
Do it yourself: Here is my recipe for crab mac and cheese- not lobster because, well, this is Maryland and crabs rule (it's our state Crustacean).
What you need:
16 oz Orecchiette pasta
24 oz shredded crabmeat
2/3 lb cheddar
1/3 lb parmesan cheese
3 ½ cup milk
1/2 cup butter
½ cup flour
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp parsley
2 tsp old bay (or more if you'd like)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 350' oven. Cook pasta for about 2/3 of the recommended time. Drain and return to pot. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Once the butter is melted, and the flour and stir until smooth. Let this sit for 30 seconds, and then slowly add the milk and wine while whisking the mixture. Continue whisking until it comes to a boil. Next, add cheese and stir until it is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the crabmeat to the pasta and gently mix together. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and crab and stir until all the pasta is coated. Pour the cheese-y pasta into a greased baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine the panko, parsley Combine the panko, parsley, old bay, and salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Evenly coat the mac and cheese with the panko mixture. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
If you do want to raise money for the Red Cross or another organization, why not have a silent auction? Ask people to donate items and then set up baskets/single items around your party for people to bid on.
If you aren’t trying to raise money, I still think it is nice to have your guests leave with a little something besides a full belly and happy thoughts. Ask each of your guests to bring one item (with a specified spending limit) that is one of their favorite things. Put all these items in a basket and let guests pick one as they leave. These items don’t have to be a secret and can act as conversation starters as well!
The Beach Bash had a great raffle. There was an adorable Lilly Cruiser, photography, and canvases paired by the Lilly print designers. They had a few baskets as well. The ones I put tickets in were the wine and cheese basket, the stay-cation (hotel and spa weekend in Palm Beach), and the Man’s basket featuring a fishing trip and other manly nonsense. The beach bash also handed out party favors as we were leaving. Besides promos from local companies; the girls got Murfee scarves in Sand Bar Blue Florida and the boys got neckties in Starfruit Yellow Spike the Punch!
If I had to make a “My Favorite Things” basket for a raffle, here is what I would include:
Essie “Stylenomics” in the winter and “Where’s my Chauffeur” in the summer. I don’t know what sparked the new funky nail color trend, but I am just so happy that I can got get a manicure and pick out a blue or green color without getting a look form my mom.
Lilly Pulitzer Small Agenda- I have been using these since college. I used to buy the jumbo size when I carried a backpack, then switched to the large when I started carrying my books in a tote, and finally downsized to the small when I entered post-grad life. It fits perfectly in my purse and makes sure I never miss a step!
Bacon Pickles from Unbound Pickling- I adore pickles. They are the perfect snack when you are craving something sour. And how do you make anything better? Add bacon. These pickles do not actually use bacon (or any animal meat), but the geniuses at Unbound Pickling infused a smoky, hickory flavor into the pickles for an amazing taste!
Now you have the tools to escape to a Beach Bash no matter wear you are! If you want to see more pictures of the party, check out Lilly Pulitzer's instagram feed . Be sure to visit the website of the American Red Cross if you want to learn more or want to help. I hope everyone had as great a time over the holidays as I did and is making it through the frosty winter! Stay strong and dream of the beach.