Gratitude Dinner

This time of year I always tend to get a bit nostalgic and extra emotional. The holidays are really a time I find myself reflecting on the things in my life I’m most grateful for and ways to make things extra special for my family. 2018 has been a year of many exciting things. Since the launch of The Happy Place, I have found myself on a rollercoaster of emotions. I have already learned so much in these few short months and that is very much due to the incredible support of friends (both new and old) that have rallied behind this story that I simply need to tell. 

Filled with tremendous gratitude for all the special people that have been there cheering me on, I asked my beautiful friend, Kelly if she would be up for hosting with me an evening that would bring together our tribe and focus on the things we are all so grateful for. HeyMama is an incredible network of working mothers that are truly connected and supportive in such a massive way. Their Gratitude Dinners are a special night for their members and Kelly and I really wanted to host one. We also knew it was a perfect opportunity to help raise money for Alliance of Moms, which Kelly is a co-founder. 

With the support of HeyMama, we assembled the troops and set out to have a really memorable night. I started to visualize how I wanted to transform my backyard in a way that felt beautiful and special and bountiful. It had to feel like ‘fall’ and nothing screams this time of year more to me than a gorgeous hearth. I started to sketch my ideas for floral genius, Tabitha, of Winston & Main and then we went straight to fellow HeyMama member Melina Davies, of Olive & Thyme, to create the perfect menu.  Olive & Thyme is a gourmet cafe and marketplace and one of my FAVORITE LA spots to eat. I have had Melina put her iconic spin on many parties I have thrown. Not only does it all taste amazing, but it’s just SO beautiful. 

Photos by Heidi Ryder

Photos by Heidi Ryder

One of the things I love most about working with Melina and her Olive & Thyme team is that there is no idea that I can cook up (and I can cook up some crazy ones!) that they can’t make happen. I told Melina I had a vision for one of my outdoor fireplaces and wanted their enormous cheese and appetizer displays to take center stage. I knew it was a tall order, but I also knew that it would be a ‘wow’ moment sitting in front of the florals I had planned. And it really was! 


Clearly the appetizers were enough to feast on for days, but knowing what was in store for us at dinner, I paced myself! 


It also was easy to get lost in the spectacular floral display Tabitha and her team created.


I really wanted the fireplace to feel like the epitome of a lush and living hearth. I knew my guests would be spending a lot of time near it because we were placing our appetizers there and on a chilly night it would be warm and cozy. My only obstacle was the television. I needed it to disappear. Without batting an eyelash Tabitha came up with a plan to hang greenery in front of it in a way that looked like the hearth was living in the midst of a gorgeous garden. I was speechless. 

I also had plans for my vintage chandeliers. 


They already worked well with the color scheme and feel of the party, but I had this idea to use them as another way to display the beautiful greenery and flowers that flowed throughout the party. It was so pretty, I already have made plans for using this idea and transforming them with each season...or party! 


As we sat for dinner, all of our guests were surprised with an Olive & Thyme gift crate. 


These incredible boxes are shipped nationwide and are curated specifically to the recipient. Spoiler Alert: Everyone on our Christmas gift list will be getting one of these this year! 


And Kate and I added a small bundle of sage and a tiny piece of Amethyst as a little The Happy Place ‘thank you’. We love sage for all of its cleansing properties and Amethyst is a stone of spiritual protection and purification, cleansing one's energy field of negative influences and attachments, and creating a resonant shield of spiritual light around the body. 


For dinner, we started with a butternut squash soup and my all-time favorite Little Gem salad. Then we feasted on short ribs and salmon!


Of course a night like this isn’t complete with some delicious wine and we were treated to some beautiful selections from Winc Wine


Winc is literally my dream come true. Not only do they provide you with affordable wine to your doorstep, they also take the time to understand your palate and send you wine that you will love! 

As the night wound down, new friendships were forged, ideas were supported, and a bunch of like-minded women came together to support each other and a beautiful organization, The Alliance of Moms.


I could have spent many more hours enjoying my girl time, but in the back of my mind I was excited to treat our guests to one last surprise. I always love to send people home with one last impression of the night. 


And when thinking of how to do that we asked some of our favorites to help. Tory Burch is the epitome of women supporting women on the highest level. Knowing that whatever they chose for the special night would be perfect, I asked my friend Christina Bryant, of St. Frank if she would share her match books that I’m OBSESSED with. With one last company on our must have list, we made a call to Saje Wellness and asked if they would share a special treat. They sent Peppermint Halo rollers for everyone to become as addicted to as I am!


I think it’s safe to say, this was a night to remember. It’s something Kelly and I hope to do more of and this was such a perfect time of year to have a gratitude themed dinner. With our hearts and tummies full, we said goodnight and as I reflect on all of it, this night is absolutely something I’m so grateful for!