I think that it goes without saying that I love to entertain! Birthday parties, dinner parties, kid parties…I love organizing any fun celebration! Not that I always need a reason to celebrate in order to plan a party…sometimes just gathering friends together for a fun dinner and some uninterrupted (if you have kids, you know what I mean) conversation is a good enough reason to plan a get-together!
I’ve been wanting to host a “pop up dinner party” for a while now…a small dinner party in which the guests are not told the location until the day of the dinner. And who knows where the dinner will “pop up!”
Earlier this summer, I came across the perfect spot for an event like this. Our family was visiting the Oak Openings Metropark, and one of my daughters showed us this spot. In fact, it is known as “the spot.” This secluded wooded area is so serene and peaceful. Not a lot of people know about this off-trail wooded area, however it has become a favorite spot for local photographers…and I can see why. Take just a few steps into this wooded area and you feel like you’ve entered a magical forest.
Just a bit of history…about 1,200 red pine trees were planted on these four acres of land in the middle of Oak Openings about 60 years ago. This was done to halt soil erosion, and those trees grew to become “the spot.” What a perfect setting for an early fall dinner!
Once the date was set, I told the guests the location would be announced the day of the dinner. To keep everyone guessing, I texted a clue to the guests each day the week leading up to the dinner.
…it is not at our house
…we will NOT leave Lucas county
…the location is about a 25 minute drive from our town
…you will need sturdy shoes to walk around in this location
…you will experience beautiful scenery/ views while there
I think this added some excitement throughout the week, leading up to the dinner! Because I wanted to announce the location in a fun way, I teamed up with Card Mint to design a “location reveal” card. After sending her a few pictures of “the spot,” she perfectly captured it’s simple beauty, along with the location. These cards were tied to the front doors of the guests’ homes.
Now on to the dinner! And lots of pictures…
This “pop up dinner party” required some planning ahead, since I was basically taking the dinner to the woods. I had a long list of every possible item we would need, from tables and stools right down to a butter dish.
I used two 6 feet tables that fold in half for easy transporting, along with stackable stools. The tables were placed end to end, and covered with white ruffled linens. In keeping with a natural and simple look, I placed burlap down the middle of the tables, and topped it with some silk greenery.
Card Mint also designed the menu cards to coordinate with the paper plates and napkins from Sophistiplate…yes, those are paper plates! I just love the design of the trees on the cards…they mimic the real trees perfectly. I punched a hole in the corner and attached some raffia and green ribbon to match the plates. Be sure to check out Card Mint’s etsy shop here…she was a pleasure to work with on this event.
Now for the food! This was the hard part…trying to think of dishes that I could prepare ahead and that would transport well. I decided on three hearty salads…an antipasto salad, a flank steak salad, and an Israeli couscous salmon salad, along with an assortment of breads.
The guests enjoyed a simple appetizer while mingling…baguette slices with goat cheese, blackberries, mint, and drizzled with honey. To keep the beverages simple, I served white wine, red wine, and water.
With the sun starting to set, we enjoyed the meal, the view, and the company of good friends.
Dessert was one of my favorite fall desserts…apple butterscotch cake. Top it off with some vanilla ice cream! And can you believe I forgot to take any pictures of it?!?
Once desert was over, we only had a few more moments of daylight. We discovered that once the sun sets in “the spot,” it gets very dark very quickly. Thank goodness our friends helped us pack up everything…some even helped by shining their phone flashlights for us to see what we were doing!
I loved hosting this dinner at such a fun and unusual place…I’m already thinking of a location for another “pop up dinner party!”