Sometimes just zeroing in on a theme can make the difference between a drive-by party and one that you have to literally shut off the lights to get guests to go back home!
Back in March, I celebrated the launch of Dolly Parton’s Backwoods Barbie album and had to look no farther than the CD cover, oh, and my three decades worth of memorabilia, for inspiration.
I knew I wanted a distinctive tabletop, so I first tapped into 1970s and found a heartwarming motif in Dolly’s song, “Coat of Many Colors.” My mom and I started out by gathering scraps of pastel gingham and butterfly prints, cutting them out in randomly sized squares and sewing them together for what resulted in our “Tablecloth of Many Colors,” paying homage to Dolly’s classic. (Isn't my mom cute holding up our creation?)
From there, everything else seemed to fall in place. Three vintage gold-trimmed pieces of china I bought for a few dollars at Lutecia Clementine’s in Independence, MO, easily mixed into my own white dining plates for a touch of Grandma chic. (When I finally met Dolly a few years back, I stuttered, "I feel like a two-year-old kid meeting Santa Claus for the first time.” Dolly placed her porcelain hand on my arm and giggled, “Why you just calm down. I’m just Granny Claus!”).
I further expanded on the homespun tabletop with an old metal picnic basket I found at a thrift store in Memphis. I loaded it up with fried chicken and cornpone, which is something I’d never tasted before but found the recipe in the Dollywood cookbook. I found mix-and-match napkins for a few dollars at Housing Works in New York and at Kansas City’s River Market Antique Mall. Some already had butterflies on them, but for the one’s that didn’t, I ironed on appliqués of the fluttery creatures.
For unique decorations, I rummaged through my own collection of Dolly souvenirs that has consistently grown over the years. The large cutout standing behind the table came from a book promotion of one of Dolly’s books.
I keep it stashed behind the headboard in my bedroom to make a surprise appearance when people gather in my home. The small cutout above the table is another promotion from the early ‘80s touting Dolly’s album, Nine To Five…And Odd Jobs.
We sang Dolly songs, drank “Jolenes” (a shaken concoction of RC Cola, Vodka and a splash of lemonade), and nibbled pink cupcakes decorated and butterfly sugar cookies until the wee hours of the morning. The only thing missing was our singing diva in the flesh. But for a few fleeting hours, it seemed like she was actually there.