My wife and I live in Chicago, near Lake Michigan. We walk to the shore often to appreciate its wild beauty, an untameable giant abutting one of man’s great cities. And while it is beautiful, the howling and biting wind that whips off it this time of year reminds us that we live in a very cold area. Once Christmas passes, our thoughts and hopes immediately begin to turn to spring.
This year, our longing for a change of seasons came a little early, partly because it’s been a mild winter, which makes me think spring is just around the corner (spoiler: it isn’t!), but also because we learned that Pantone’s Color of the Year 2017 is Greenery.
Pantone produces the best color guides out there. If you want Sky Blue to look exactly like the sky, you go to Pantone. Fashion mavens and manufacturing professionals, packaging businesses and graphic artists all turn to them. And, this year, they’ve decided we could all use a little more Greenery, described as a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore, and renew,” as well as “life-affirming.” Honestly, we agree.
That’s why we’ve already started planning a “Return to Spring” party. We’ll be hosting our soiree as soon as March goes out like a lamb, which could be early this year. A spring party can have many themes, with many ways to celebrate, but here are some ideas to make sure your renewal celebrations feel like something new, fresh, and dewy, with earth-bursting hope.
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Greenery Sets the Tone
The cool thing about Greenery is that it works well with so many other colors. Pantone calls it a “transition color,” as it fits on a bunch of different spectrums, everything from Forest Floor to Moody Blooms to Calm It Down. When choosing colors for your party, you have a lot to work with, and it comes down to personal choice.
Myself, I kind of like calmer spring colors, something bright, but still a little subdued, with a hint of winter’s cold still trapped inside. I usually lean toward darker violets, purples, and reddish-pink for accents. It feels to me more transitory, less abrupt.
Of course, you may prefer brighter paisleys, more explosive reds and yellows, or the pastel colors of Easter. Anything you choose will be great, but you should try to pick a dominant theme. And this might depend on if your party is simply to celebrate the changing of the seasons, or if you’re tying it to a specific date or event.
A Spring Fling Theme
There are so many reasons to have a spring party. My favorite is “just because,” as in “a party just because we’ve made it through the teeth of another Midwest winter, and, also, I’m bored.” But in case you were looking for more themed ideas, here are a few good ones:
- Spring Equinox: The Spring Equinox is officially on March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere this year, which falls on a Monday. For those of you who can’t host a Monday party (read: most of us), it’s ok to have it on the preceding or following weekend. Set up a fake Stonehenge. Honor Dionysius with wine and bread. Or, have guests make pledges for the rest of the year, fresh with the gift of renewal. For some reason, a lot of people also try to balance eggs on the Equinox, although the symbolism there is unclear.
- Cinco de Mayo: This Mexican holiday happens on the 5th of May, which this year is conveniently on a Friday. If you want to have a party along these lines, make sure you have a good margarita set, plenty of delicious Mexican dishes, and, most importantly, a sincere appreciation for a wonderful and vibrant culture. This year, make a pledge to honor what makes the diversity around us so wonderful, and something to be celebrated, instead of just borrowed.
- The Kentucky Derby: “And they’re off!” My wife loves the Kentucky Derby, and it’s hard not to. The raw power of galloping horses, the thrill of competition, the age-old traditions, and, of course, the hats. People love getting dolled up in seersucker and fancy dresses with eye-catching headwear while enjoying fine finger foods and mint juleps. This year the Derby is on the 6th of May.
The Many Colors of Spring
But, again, you don’t need a specific date to recognize the coming spring, you just need to recognize it. Which is why this year we’re going to plan for a few activities for our dinner party, including making flower arrangements. After all, Greenery evokes feelings of a bouquet just waiting to bloom. Why not make a real one?
You might remember that my wife and I love rustic farm-style everything, like our rustic farmhouse-inspired dinner party last fall. Over the years, we’ve collected a bunch of mason jars of different colors, sizes, and styles that we’ll pull out for our guests to use, as well as a supply of thin rope and twine, and flowers of all different colors. Then, we’ll just encourage guests to play with and explore creating their own spring arrangements. Some of the flowers we’ll be providing include:
- Daffodils (with their bursts of yellow and white)
- Anemone (whose pale blue seems bolder against the green)
- Tulips of any color
- Lily of the Valley (normally late spring, but blooms early with a mild winter)
- Witch Hazel (yellow or red and blooms late winter to early spring if we have an earlier party)
Set a Spring Feast for Your Guests
Our Greenery-inspired party is planned, but we’re still debating on the meal. We’ve narrowed it down to:
Roast Chicken with Spring Onions and Fennel: This is one of my favorite dishes, and is surprisingly simple, with the spring onions providing a buoyant and crisp, but not overwhelming flavor. Ideally, you can get the spring onions and the fennel very fresh, like from a farmers’ market, when both are still bulbing.
Rabbit Confit: Rabbits are a sign of spring’s renewal, so why not enjoy their bounty. That’s my argument, anyway, and this recipe, which finishes with a brief taste of barbeque smoke, makes spring feel like the prelude to summer, rather than just the end of winter.
And that’s sort of what it’s all about. Spring, to me, is a state of mind. When I start reading about pitchers and catchers reporting to training in late February, I already feel the warmth of a baseball game, even if it is snowy outside. I start to get the feeling of the grade-schooler who stares at the clock, knowing that each moment brings her a little closer to running around a playground.
That’s what a spring party offers. It reminds me that underneath these wintering layers, my friends are still there, still with their same jokes and excitement for tomorrow. I know that the scratchy skeleton trees will bloom again, occluding our windows with their glorious greenery. I know it’s coming. Planning for a party lets the colorful spring butterflies flutter inside me.