It’s an awe-inspiring experience to walk into a space curated with sisterhood in mind—a space for warm embraces, tears of triumphs and food to feed the soul. The goal for the day was for people to feel joy, connection, inspiration and motivation. Despite all the things happening in this world, I believe our collective superpower as people is the ability to find joy.
I looked forward to curating this rooftop picnic for a second year to celebrate women in my life who show up for me, create opportunities for me, and who are a consistent presence for me. They deserved their flowers, and my favorite way to celebrate is by hosting my squad with an experience they won’t forget. If you are thinking about hosting the people in your life for a private and personalized experience, here are some tips to help you get started for your next celebration.
Set Up a Theme
Creating a theme for your gathering will help all of the other moving parts come into place. A theme can be centered around a color, a sentimental item, food, or even a favorite quote or saying. Your theme can influence everything from your decor to the activities you include at the event. Trust me; this will make your life easier. I used the theme around my brand, Lemons 2 Lemonade, for my annual picnic. The color yellow runs through the decor, and I even asked my guests to wear it. You can see lemons in the picnic decor and reflected in the menu for the day. Setting theme and purpose also helped me vet vendors and pitch to sponsors who I wanted to use to help bring the day to life. Check out Pinterest for ideas if you have difficulty getting inspired by a theme.
Food that Elevates the Vibe
There is something unique and personalized when guests get to dine on food made by a caterer or private chef. There’s nothing wrong with ordering from Publix, but it’s not every day when people get to experience that one-of-a-kind spin curated by a private chef. For the Lemons 2 Lemonade picnic (#L2LPicnic), chef Keshia Hays, owner of SIP N BITE, curated a menu based on the lemon theme picnic style set up.
It was essential to find ways to have the food individually packaged to avoid flies and allow guests to take home anything they didn’t finish. Keshia was able to assist in making that happen. She is known for her food presentation and the touch of color she creates by adding edible flowers to her food that looks fantastic on platters and serving plates. However, she achieved her signature look in the packaged food items for the picnic.
Chef Keshia created a three-part menu that included savory and sweet food items and something to sip on that was a great mixer to Ketel One Botanical. She added citrus notes to the menu and was able to keep in mind the gluten-free restrictions some of my guests had. Our menu included:
-Browned Butter Fish Smoked Gouda Grit Cake with preserved Lemon Aioli
-Petite Lavender Pepper Crusted Steak Croissant Sandwiches with Whipped Fromage Blanc and Yuzu & Micro Greens
-Citrus Inspired Petite Graze Fruit & Fromage Board
-Golden Goddess Salad
-Lemon Eaton Mess, a traditional English dessert with lemon curd, whipped cream and crispy meringue
-Chamomile & Citrus Glazed Mini Donuts
-Lavender Mint Lemonade was perfect to pair with our Ketel One Botanical
Pay it Forward By Using Black Owned Businesses
I needed to invest in the picnic by using Black-owned vendors to help bring the day to life. Not only is it a great way to circulate your dollar into the community, but it is also an opportunity to introduce your guests to new businesses to support. To pull off the style and decor for the picnic, I used Fort Explorers to design and curate the affair. Christin Parrish, the owner of Fort Explorers, built the picnic table and lemon backdrop. As part of her services, she offers table decor and place settings. This is the second year Fort Explorers, a picnic and slumber party rental company, designed the #L2LPicnic. She does a great job taking your vision and bringing it to life. Christin is excellent with detail and having the items that you need. For example, last year, the picnic had a champagne wall, and this year Fort Explorers added the lemon canopy to the table for a special touch.
Working with a Black chef like Chef Keshia of SIP N BITE and in the prior year, Chef Charles Hunter of The Salted Table was essential for the food menu.
There are plenty of Black videographers and photographers in Middle Tennessee to capture the vibes and the memories. Get some professional images and videos to share on social and to keep as a reminder of the celebration. Nashville-based videographer Jasmin Schuler of Shubey Productions captured the beauty of the #L2LPicnic.
Lastly, curate a themed gift that supports Black-owned businesses. My guests have presented gift bags and boxes full of Black-owned goodies, two of which are products created by two picnic attendees. Gift bags included products by Lusters Pink, Bloom By Simply Lanae, The Clarity Shop, Chicago French Press, Lit Brooklyn and Willow Street Design Co.
Lean on your team for help
It’s not easy or cheap to plan and host people, but you will be surprised how much access you already have to the things you need to pull it off. All you have to do is ask. I know the etiquette books would go against having your guests help, but if you are providing the food, the spirits and the vibe, you would be surprised how many people will show up for you. Lean into your friends and family’s strengths for help. Someone may have a venue or space you could use to host. If your friend is a music lover, then have that person create a playlist and manage the day’s tunes. If you have friends who are natural helpers, ask them to come early to set up, help you get ready, or stay late to clean. They were going to help on their own but ask anyway. Sometimes at the last minute, there may be things you forget like ice, water, or another dessert option. Get ahead of it and assign some guests to bring it. Someone will probably be running late and you will have time to catch them to grab any other last-minute items you need.
Photography and Video: Jasmine Schuler
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.