In the Navy, the officer in charge of a squadron (an aviation unit) is called the Commanding Officer, or CO for short. Every year and a half or so, there is a “Change of Command” when the CO leaves, and the Executive Officer (or XO) becomes the new CO. There is a big ceremony with lots of pomp and circumstance, usually a nice reception, but then there is my favorite part…
You see, if the CO is married, his wife has an “unofficial” role in the Navy. She is often a conduit of information between the military and the spouses. She is our unofficial leader. She is the CO’s Wife–or COW for short. So when there is a Change of Command, we often throw a COW party for the spouse. Her friends will often deck her yard in cow paraphernalia the day of the Change of Command–cow spots on the house, a big cut out Holstein grazing on the plants, milk jugs strung across her porch. It’s so fun!
A few of us got together early this spring to plan a fete for our new COW. We wanted to honor her love of wine with a “Cow-a-fornia Wine Tasting” and we also wanted to give her an opportunity to cut loose and dance, so there was a second surprise aspect–”Dance Your Dairy-ere” off. Our guests knew about this aspect, but the COW-of-honor didn’t, so when a bus arrived to take us to a second location, she was totally surprised!
I hosted the wine tasting at my place…so I thought I’d share some of the details of that part of the party with you today, and along with that, a few party-planning tips!
1. An easy way to make everything look pulled together is to utilize a color theme or a logo. For this party–I used both! We had some holstein print table clothes, so black and white were a must, and since I have quite a bit of red in my house, I chose red as a third color to help tie everything together. I also found a cow silhouette that I embraced as our logo. I cut several of these silhouettes out of paper and felt and used them throughout the house. I painted a plate I found at the dollar store with the silhouette and it instantly made my existing decor (which is largely red already) coordinate with the party! (My friend Diann did all the flower arrangements–she did such a great job!)
2. Let people know that the party starts as soon as they arrive, by decorating outside your house. And feel free to think past balloons on the mailbox! For our COW party I changed out the pillows on my bench with a chevron pillow I had stashed in the back of a closet, and I pinned a felt cow silhouette onto a red pillow I already owned. For the door, I just foofed some scrap tulle we had leftover from decorating the after party location and pinned it to another felt cow silhouette. This cost almost nothing and set the tone for the evening!
3. Kraft paper is your friend! Next time you’re at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart or Target take a stroll through the wrapping paper aisle and grab a few rolls of kraft paper (brown grocery-bag-esque paper). This paper is AWESOME. For our party, I wrapped the wine bottles in the paper for our blind tasting, but I’ve used kraft paper as a table covering, as placemats, as a wrapping paper…the opportunities are endless! So buy some today and get your creative juices flowing!
4. Give your guests a takeaway and keep glasses from getting mixed up. I looked into plastic wine glasses and it was going to be $5 for a pack. For $20, I bought a bunch of cheap wine glasses at the dollar store and used a paint pen to customize them for the guests. I loved how they turned out!
5. Use levels to your advantage! When I set up a food display, I always try to use boxes underneath my tablecloths to make a more dynamic display and make food easier to access. This is such an easy thing to do and really creates a lot of visual interest.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my party set-up, and that I’ve given you a few ideas for your next shin-dig.