Thursday, September 20, 2012

Girls Only: a Little Black Dress Dinner Party (ou a Festa do Pretinho Básico)

UPDATE:  Did you like the party printables I used for this dinner party?  You can find them (and more!) for purchase here and a matching pennant banner here.  Check it out!

I recently met these amazing girls at a friend's house, and instantly felt like we knew each other for ages... They are incredible women who - for one reason or another - moved from all parts of our native Brasil and found each other in the San Francisco Bay Area.  For over 10 years they've been getting together for monthly dinners, where they rotate the place and the cook every time (one of the girls even hosted a Zumba fitness class with a professional instructor when it was her turn to host.  How cool is that?  Unfortunately I was in Brasil and missed that one... And that would have been my first Zumba class!!) I was lucky enough to be "adopted" by these cool chicks and this month, it was my time to offer the girls-only dinner.
As I mentioned on this post, I asked them to wear their good old "little black dresses" and driven by this idea, decorated my place in black & pink and used all the accessories that I thought were pertinent to the theme: dress forms, hangers, measuring tapes, clothespins, pearls, a vintage perfume bottle (also seen here) and of course, all my black dresses displayed on a wall and on a clothes rack.  

I will go into more details about the party styling but first, I would like to talk about music selection. When planning an event, I always plan the "soundtrack" as well, be it an adult, kid, theme or casual barbecue party. I pick and choose the CDs, iPod lists or even my Pandora radio stations based on the ambiance I want to create. I might even play them during planning, set up and cooking to get me inspired and in the right mood :-)  This time around, some of the chosen ones were cool compilations such as "Euro Lounge" and "World Lounge", from Putumayo and other tunes by Bebel Gilberto, Roberta Sá, Thievery Corporation, Pink Martini, Bajofondo and Gotan Project. Very "lounge", very worldly, very girly.
To decorate the apartment, I searched for things I already had at home that could fit into the party concept.  I collected all my "LBDs" from the closet and hung them along with pearl necklaces on the wall.  The only thing I bought for this set up were pink hangers from a discount store, which I'll use for out-of-town guests after the party.
I realized I had more black dresses than I thought, so some of them went on display on a portable clothes rack by the entrance.
A pink "measuring tape" ribbon added a sweet final touch.
I used the same pearls from the Tea Party and the feather boa from our party photo booth to accessorize the mannequin by the entrance. This idea was an adaptation from last year's  Halloween party.
This is the same frame used to display the "etiquette rules" at the Afternoon Tea Party.  This time, its job was to welcome the guests (in Portuguese.)  I always try to match the font type with the concept I want to create for the event. This time, the font I chose to use throughout the party is free and believe it or not, it's called... "Little Black Dress." Yeah! 
Another "little black dress" finding was a key ingredient to my "welcome drink"...
..."Little Black Dress" Vodka!!  I combined the "LBD" black cherry-vanilla vodka, the very pink "X-Rated Fusion Liqueur" and pink lemonade in a cocktail shaker and named it "X-rated LBD." A little obvious I know, but catchy :-)  
To display the cocktail recipe, I wrapped measuring tape washi tape around a vintage wooden spool and added a wire memo holder bent at the bottom to stay in place.
The same memo holder used as a garnish pick
  But wait, there's more!
Merlot and pinot grigio "Little Black Dress" wine!!
I created personal wine tags to attach to the glass stems so no one would lose their drink... To hold all the tags, I used a ring holder. The black wine glasses were purchased last year at an after-Halloween sale.  They were hidden in storage and I am so glad I remembered to pull them out!
Appetizer & Drinks Buffet

Thai salad served in take out boxes with accompanying chopsticks. This is a somewhat elaborate shredded salad I used to prepare at this amazing restaurant I worked at in Washington, D.C.  I've served it before as an amuse bouche at a couple of parties (New Year's Eve & hubby's 40th birthday), and it is always a big favorite. To accommodate everyone, I served two options - chicken and vegetarian - and created round labels to identify which type inside each box. 
The vegetarian option was served in a pink box with black chopsticks.
And the chicken version in a black box and pink (sparkly!) chopsticks.

Butternut Squash Soup garnished with Coconut Milk. The hanging spoons offered the option of having the soup as a shot or as a conventional... well, soup.
I used a wire hanger printed fabric to spruce up the hammered trays.
Paper napkins customized with edible ink (details here) and mini (doll) metal hangers scattered on the table.
Tabletop dress forms "prepped" for the night
An overall view of the dinning room
The day before the party, while shopping for food and other supplies, I found this mirrored wall sticker "chandelier" on sale for less than $4 and thought it would be amusing to incorporate it in the decoration. 

I used the same glass candle holders from the Vintage Baby Shower, but embellished with black and pink lace this time around.
I fell in love with these mini mannequin place card holders a while ago, and ordered a bunch thinking I could use them for my birthday party or something like that.  More than six months later, the opportunity finally came (and this might have been the true reason behind the idea of a LBD party. Shhhhh!!)  The drawback was that I didn't have enough for all the girls (only a couple short.) I tried ordering online again, but couldn't find them anywhere.  Sigh...

Place setting...
... and centerpiece: pink ostrich feathers and a long string of pearls inside a mercury glass vase.
The menu in 2 versions, English and Portuguese.  Welcome drink, appetizers (squash & coconut soup; Thai salad in a box), main dish (miso-ginger marinated salmon - recipe below; string beans in beurre noisette; brown rice)...
...and for a perfect ending to the night, mini berry-almond cheesecakes!  I made a gluten-free almond crust and topped with a fresh berry coulis with a touch of Chambord (black raspberry liqueur.)  The mini candelabra candleholders are from Umbra, and their début was at last year's Halloween party.
For a souvenir of the dinner party, I offered "LBD" shaped cookies: white whole wheat shortbread cookies covered in black fondant and pearlized sprinkles (a gluten-free version was available as well.)
Quick visual tutorial of the cookies, as seen here.
I placed the cookies in pink organza drawstring bags and attached a tag that said "Obrigada!" (thank you) on one side and had the trio of black dress mannequins on the other.  It was a little challenging to photograph all this pink and some colors came out a little off...
I even got myself a bright pink wig to go with my "LBD"

Miso-Ginger Marinated Salmon
(adapted from Bobby Flays's recipe)

Note 1: This recipe feeds 4 people; I had to triple the ingredients, so make sure you have enough for your crowd!
Note 2: One of the girls is gluten-intolerant, so I made sure to use a completely gluten-free version of the tamari sauce. In fact, true tamari is fermented without any gluten, so be sure to read the labels!

    1/4 cup red miso (fermented soybean paste)
    1/4 cup sake
    2 tablespoons rice vinegar
    2-3 tablespoons organic tamari (or good quality soy sauce, look for "naturally fermented", or "aged")
    2 tablespoons minced green onions
    1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
    4 wild salmon fillets, 8 ounces each
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    Brown sugar to sprinkle on top, optional

Whisk together miso, sake, vinegar, tamari, green onions, ginger, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Place the salmon in a baking dish, pour the marinade over, and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer. Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil coated with oil. Remove the salmon from the marinade, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with brown sugar. Broil for 8 minutes. Turn, and broil for an additional 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Cooking time can vary depending on your oven, so keep checking for doneness and watch so it doesn't overcook, dry or burn.  You want a nice golden brown crust to form on top, and moist and cooked through meat underneath.  Let it rest for a few minutes before serving and enjoy!

UPDATE:  Did you like the party printables I used for this dinner party?  You can find them (and more!) for purchase here and a matching pennant banner here.  Check it out!


  1. Flave, tive uma ideia agora: vamos pra Belém do Pará hj... será que encontro guaraná Jesus por lá? É rosa!!!!!! Ele é original do Maranhão, mas quem sabe???? Bjs!

    1. Guaraná... Jesus? Deusdocéu, o que é isso?! :-) E champagne/espumante rosé, encontra fácil no Brasil? Ansiosa pra ver a tua festa!! Beijos!

    2. aki no rj vc encontra esse guarana na feira de sao cristovao

  2. Oi Flavia parabéns que festa linda, é batido ja mais quanta criatividade vc tem menina, deveria trabalhar com isso.



  3. Flávia, linda festa, impecável!!!
    Kátia, acredito que só no Maranhão, mesmo, :) ... mas se vier pra Manaus eu te ajudo a procurar ... kkk

    bjs meninas ... vc`s me inspiram!!!

    Kelly Nomura

  4. Flávia, que luxo!!
    Sábado estarei com a Katita e não vejo a hora!! Vcs são danadas!!
    Vc precisa trabalhar com já não trabalha..rsss

  5. Linda festa, tudo perfeito! Parabéns!

  6. Obrigada, queridas Gélia, Kelly, Marta e Ivaneide. Que tal instituirmos a festa do pretinho básico como uma comemoração anual? Não trabalho com festas, até pensei a respeito, mas por enquanto não dá mesmo, com dois meninos pequenos em casa... O que comecei a fazer foi desenvolver kits digitais para festa, assim como a Katia. Caso se interessem, ou queiram compartilhar, já tem alguns nessa lojinha virtual:

    Beijos e sucesso em todas as festas!!

  7. Uma graca esta festa. Amei tudo. Uma explosao de bom gosto.

    Parabéns meninas!


  8. Muito obrigada, Georgia! Adorei o "explosão de bom gosto" :-) Uma ótima semana pra ti, Flavia


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