OH BOY, YOU GUYS. Kate here.
Last night, we did our first ever collaboration for a 30th birthday party.
Just about a month ago, my friend Molly's husband, Chris, contacted me to see if he could hire the Create Dinners team to help host a surprise birthday dinner for Molly's 30th birthday up in Big Bear at Noon Lodge. (If you ever go to Big Bear, I highly recommend checking this place out. It's so cute and hospitable for families, and groups wanting a get-away.) Having never done anything quite like this before, we immediately said... DUH. Molly is a radiant light in so many people's lives. She's always got a giant smile on her face, and makes others feel like they are the only person on the planet when she's speaking to them. She is also a creative herself, and celebrates other women regularly through her organization the Kind Campaign. Check it out if you haven't heard of it... she's changing the world through girl-on-girl kindness. So, it only felt right for us to celebrate HER.
I reached out to Elise, Katie, and Kylie (Create Dinners Vets) to see if they were available to help, we pitched our "packages", Chris was on board, and we sneakily started planning. I must take a moment to call out Chris for being an ALL-STAR husband. Like, alllll the stars for him. He was so considerate of every detail, making sure it was perfect for Molly.
So early yesterday morning, Kylie, Elise, Katie and I loaded up the car and headed towards the mountains! When we arrived at the Noon Lodge, we Mission Impossible-d our way through the cabins to drop off the food. Then we grabbed some grilled cheeses and chicken pot pies in town, found a cute antique vase to give Molly, and picked up the cake that Chris had made by one of Big Bear's local bakeries, Sister My Sister Bake Shop. It was Strawberry Champagne flavored, and it was GOOD.
The party crew left to go out for a boat ride for a few hours. During that time, we transformed an area called The Meadows into a mystical Mountain Lodge themed fairytale. We leaned heavily into wildflowers and rustic elements to sprinkle across our tablescape, and kept things elegantly simple so guests could be comfortable, but still feel like they'd been transported to a different place when they walked up to the table.
When they returned, everyone crowded around and Chris walked our blindfolded birthday girl over to the table. Everyone started singing Happy Birthday, he removed the blindfold, and she burst into the happiest tears I have ever seen. It was so sweet. And such a relief to see her elated. I walked with her around the table, showing her different details, my favorite being one that her mom contributed.
Quick story time... Molly's mom Tetia wrote me last week (just two days before this event) applying to come to a regular Create Dinner event. She's a beautiful calligraphist who runs her own business called Letter Bliss (she's so talented!), and wanted to bring placeholders to put around the table for everyone. That was the ONLY thing left on my to-do list (not joking), so I reached out to Chris to see if she knew about the event and he when he said she had no idea yet, but that he'd love for her to make them for Molly. I excitedly wrote back to tell her about everything, hoping she could do them the next day. She was thrilled to contribute, and brought them over to me at midnight on Friday -- unreal. It was the most fateful thing, and Molly was so touched to see such a personalized detail on the table.
Another one of my favorite details from the night were the bed sheets that we used as table linens. LOL. Due to a mix-up before the dinner, we weren't able to access the real linens, so... we improvised! Everyone got a kick out of it, and you never would have noticed the sheets unless you were looking reaaaal hard. Huge thanks to Natalia (another Create Dinner Veteran), who came up with this brilliant creative solution and helped us prep with her adorable daughter, Millie.
The night flowed really well. We served appetizers, dinner and dessert. Unlike our normal dinners where we all have really distinct roles, we all (other than Kylie) sort of traded our skills and jumped in wherever we needed to jump in. That said, a few specific callouts are in order...
Kylie, our Cooking With Cocktail Rings queen, put together a custom menu for the occasion. She brought back some of our all-time favorite recipes, my personal favorite being her Cedar Plank Salmon with Black Pepper and Brown Sugar. Yep, you're welcome. She tells you exactly how you can make it if you click the link right there. She also did amazing Cheese and Charcuterie Boards, White Bean Rosemary Dip, her infamous Broccolini with Garlic and Red Wine Vinegar, a Mesclun Salad with Bacon and Truffle Cheese, and Sea Salt Caramel Brownies. She was a champ yesterday, cooking for 24 people. Everyone was raving over her dishes... as they should have been.
Elise, the first half of The Happy Hunters, put together the most beautiful flower crown for Molly to wear throughout the night. Chris wanted her to have something distinct, and Elise delivered! She also spearheaded our florals on the table. On Friday night, she and I went and bought flowers, and it was so much fun to watch her in action, plotting the perfect color palette. We were all SO happy the way it turned out. Elise was also the dishwashing, hustling, food-serving, packing-my-car-like-Tetris MVP. I couldn't do any event like this without her.
Katie, second half of The Happy Hunters, jumped in everywhere. She did a lot of the table styling, did lots of the truly servant-hearted work like washing dishes and running back and forth between the table and kitchen. She also took some amazing photos for us when I was doing other things. The COOLEST thing she did was edit a batch of photos while we were at the event (in live time, people!) so they could have a link to some images at the end of the night, should they want to post. I was blown away, and like Elise and Kylie, it was so cool to see her in her natural element -- mastering photos.
Linsey, of The Wild Standard, created our beautiful menu design for us! We couldn't pull her away from Texas this time to join us in person, but she was definitely there in spirit.
I, per usual, took photos and documented the night. I dressed the cake with flowers, which was really fun. I also got to come up with our night's hashtag #MollyMaeTurnsThirtae, and wrote a bunch of conversation cards that we placed under everyone's chairs -- thank you Elise for helping with these too! As dessert was being passed out, people started going around the table answering them. They were all questions about Molly, naming the many incredible qualities she has, recounting memories, etc. It was so cool to see her honored in this way.
Molly's friends were such a fun, beautiful bunch of people, who were genuinely kind, supportive and excited about what Create Dinners is doing. It was really special to get to hear them speak so highly of Molly. If there were ever an event to "test run" a collaboration, this was the perfect one.
Everything ended all too quickly. We packed up, hit the road and headed back to Los Angeles. These photos might be some of my favorite ones I have ever taken -- Molly's joy is tangible in them. Enjoy! And HAPPY 30TH, MOLLY!