We think Des'ree was onto something when she wrote her song, Life. Know it? Released 1998 for those playing at home. Yup, Google it and be wowed by the profoundly complex lyrics. "Life, oh life, oh life, oh life. Doo, doot, doot, dooo." Whether you have more doo doo than doots, whether your cheese is more moudly Baby Bel than Cremaux D'Argental, our family thinks life always deserves to be celebrated. Any kind of life; everyday life, smelly life, life with kids, life at the beach, tired life, slow life, "juggly, challengy" life. We love it and we love to feel all of it. OK, most of the time.
This year sees both Mark and I turn 40 so what better excuse than to throw a "Celebrate The Good Life" party aka my 40th. A soiree on South Stradbroke was always going to call for island styling, an easy breezy vibe and deliciously fresh eats.
All good parties start with a good invitation and being in the biz we are, it goes without saying the invite had to be of the leather variety. Guests received a personalised round attached to a simple etched tag finished with nautical detail. Because we knew there would be quite a few details to cover, we created a website for all the fun. And fun, it certainly was!
Join us as we share our 5 top tips for throwing your own island-style gathering below:
We love nothing more than finding treasures in nature to use when styling. Nature knows colour best and is so good at being effortlessly amazing. Our palette for the day was muted greys/browns/greens so it was super easy to find what we were after in our own backyard. Fan Palms and Pandanas are aplenty on the island and so a foraging we went for dropped fronds, seed pods and old palm leaf bases, which incidentally, double as a brilliant fruit bowl afterwards. Two glorious Spanish melons took centre stage alongside fresh beets, strawberries, cut kiwi and the almightly pineapple; an island styling given.
If you're going with disposable serving ware, consider choosing something eco-friendly like these we found at Green Pack. Leni was in charge of finding the Pandanas seed pods and she agreed to loan us her rattan backpack... after much persuading!
In perfect time, I was given this vintage single anchor & rope as a 40th gift from my girlfriend, Lou. I know right, what a beauty. She knows me way too well. Set aside some time to go on a treasure hunt around your house/garage/parents'/friends' houses (you get the picture) and see what you can use. You just never know where a bundle of worn ropes, vintage fishing baskets, maritime books, maps or old, beautiful hats might be hiding. In the spirit of "use what you have", we hired pewter goblets, a selection of Moroccan cushions and muslin runners from our beautiful friends at AVIdeas. The gang there have a comprehensive inventory full of gold, just waiting to be utilised. We've also seen goblets like this at local op shops if you're looking for a set to add to your every day after your soiree.
OK, so not everyone has an old boat lying around but if you do (you never know!), use it to house drinks and keep the vibe casual by letting everyone help themselves. We chose a simple selection of Capi Mineral Waters and a refreshing Rosé for the day. Remember to have more than enough still water for everyone and stock up for the sunny times.
There's nothing like sharing food and good, robust conversation to bring people together. Who doesn't love discovering a new cheese combo at the grazing table and picking at tasty morsels while chatting? We decided a combination of relaxed cheese grazing, a selection of fresh salads/crudites and a lush dessert table made for the perfect island feast. We picked some of our favourite cheeses from the gang at Farmgate Cheese, who are the kings of flavour and live for celebrating the moment. Not only are they good people, they have super style when it comes to cheese pairings. If you're a cheese fiend, you won't want to miss our upcoming blog post,
7 Perfect Cheese Pairings coming very soon!
Don't be afraid to start up a convo with someone you don't know. Open your cirle. Learn something new. Engage in a topic you don't know much about. Your next best friends could be lurking at the next party you attend.
If you're a lover of raw honey, consider buying it by the frame for your gathering. Not only is it a showstopper, it goes such a long way. We didn't even make a dent in this beauty on the day and are still snacking on it 5 weeks on.
Music is integral to our family so it goes without saying a killer playlist is king and setting aside time BEFORE your event to nut it out is paramount. Ask around for good recommendations (all our best music comes from friends' music recs, why re-invent the wheel we say) and load up. One playlist we love is by CoquiCoquiOfficial - L'Epicerie Merida featuring artists like Perry Como, Buena Vista Social Club and The Andrews Sisters. Another goodie for island vibes is Bobby Alu and as the sun sets, switch to a little Isaiah Sharkey & DustinTebbutt.
Sweet joy in every note.
Nothing like lingering long after the party's over with a bonfire going and guitar on hand (and someone who can play it, of course). We kicked into bonfire mode as the sun set and broke out the s'mores for s'more island fun.
Let the fun happen naturally and you just never know where your shindig will end up.
Our last little tidbit; remember you are surrounded by friends, thrown your party to spoil them and ultimately, there to have a good time. No one expects everything to be perfect so take the pressure off. The best gatherings are warm, relaxed and full of love.
Look out for our next couple of blog posts where we share our party happy snaps, 7 Perfect Cheese Pairings and the recipe to Fig & Salt's Hazelnut Sour Cream Cake. Oh boy.
To love & adventure,
Venue: Sunset Beach // Couran Cove Island Resort, South Stradbroke Island
Eats: FIG & SALT, Farmgate Cheese
Cake & treats: FIG & SALT
Styling: @staceyperic, gatherandplan, FIG & SALT
Photograhy: Tobias Baxter
Island tranport & adventures: South Stradbroke Water Sports