Last Saturday night I hosted my annual “No BS Dinner”…for some reason I couldn’t think of a prettier name. This dinner is so much more than that… it’s life changing. Last year the idea came to me to throw a dinner party with zero small talk- a dinner party in which the people that come to the table actually share what’s really going on in their life. It couldn’t have gone better. We laughed, shed tears, and supported each other. This year we gathered again around the same wooden table and ate under the twinkle lights my husband strung up in order to fulfill my “outdoor dinner party dreams”. We ate delicious food from Lemonade LA and one by one shared our yearly triumphs, struggles and pain. In the span of a year some women had babies, some have ones on the way; there were divorces, miscarriages, cancer scares, marital struggles, parenting struggles, identity struggles, dreams achieved and some lost. It’s been an honor to experience friendship on this level… in fact I crave it! These types of relationships say, “I know you, accept you, love you and I’m not leaving; I’ll be here through it all.” It’s a simple thing really. All you need is a table and an invite that says come and be prepared to share what’s really going on in your life. I would love it if these types of dinners spread like wildfire throughout the world. When you move in close and learn about the lives of others and their struggles, something magical happens called “relationship”. Real relationship where women belong to themselves and feel acceptable in their pain, put down their Pinterest personas and their raw hearts are seen and loved.
If you want to throw your own “No BS party” you can do it on a dime. Here are some tips to throwing this type of dinner party.
- Choose how much you want to spend on the party and allocate funds for your top priorities. The first year I made frozen pizzas for everyone and had guests bring their favorite drink. This year I opted for even less stress and had Lemonade LA cater the dinner which was an absolute hit. I highly recommend the brussel sprout date salad, truffle macaroni and cheese and giant chocolate chip cookies!
- Offer a momento or gift for your guests. Last year I filled mason jars with stones and had guests write inspiring words on them with paint pens. This year I placed a “Brightbox” on each plate and wrote the first word that came to my mind when I thought of the guest’s name.
- Find mix matched plates at a garage sale or thrift store. This creates a cozy tablescape and is also super cost effective. I’m also a huge fan of the clearance section at my favorite home furnishing stores like Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn. I found these goldish clothe napkins at Crate & Barrel for $1.50! Oh and I bought new mason jam jars to use for drinking glasses for only $10.
- Use what you have! I wanted so badly to display gold or copper cutlery but that just wasn’t in the budget and plastic wasn’t going to cut it for a dinner of this nature. I decided to use the silverware that we use for our everyday meals and it was just as beautiful…well maybe not just as beautiful but it did the trick. I brought the indoors out by using dining room chairs and even our office chair to create an intimate and comfortable place to eat around the table. For simple centerpieces I used my husband’s beer growlers and placed a few flower stems from my local farmers market in them. Also don’t be afraid to ask to borrow items you don’t have, every year I borrow these white tablecloths and placemats from my mother-in-law!
- Have guests bring their favorite drink or appetizer to share. This is a cost cutter and helps people feel like they have a part in the event.
- Choose someone to moderate or start the conversation. I start the evening by explaining what my intentions are in hosting this kind of dinner and let guests know they can be as real and open as they want to be. There is no need to share anything at all but if they feel moved to do so, awesome! I also let guests know that words spoken around the table is confidential and not up for sharing with others not in attendance. This may seem strict but it creates an environment of trust and safety right from the start. I also encourage guests to give encouragement and feedback to others when they feel the need to do so. After I lay the ground rules and expectations I dive in first by sharing what I’m struggling with personally, what goals I’ve achieved lately and what I’m working on internally.
I hope you feel encouraged to host your own “No BS Dinner” and that you find a prettier name for it ha ha!
*Special thanks to Lemonade LA for catering this event, to Brightbox for making it a little sweeter, to Liberty School Wine for the amazing cabernet, to Meghan Brandlund Photography for helping me snap some of these photos and of course to all the woman that showed up to the table and brought their real selves; you are more courageous and beautiful than you know.
…some shopping inspo: