Est. 2011

February 11, 2024

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Last Minute Valentine’s Day Party

Valentine's Day party decor with red taper candles and balloons

How to Throw a Last Minute Valentine’s Day Party

I hosted a Valentine’s (Galentine’s, actually) party for our homeschool co-op mamas last Saturday. I needed to keep things simple, as we were busy every day that week, and I only had Saturday morning to prepare for the Saturday afternoon party. If you keep reading (and scroll through to see the few photos that were captured), you’ll find my ideas for throwing a last minute Valentine’s Day party! I’ll break it down into these different areas: menu, decor, crockery. It includes lots of thrifted and secondhand treasures!

P.S. Ever since reading a now-FAVORITE book on the subject of setting the table (aptly named The Set Table), I love using the term “crockery” which according to Google, simply means “tableware items are the dishware and utensils used for setting a table, serving food, and dining.” Try it; it’s fun! You’ll feel so British!

Now, on to the party details!

Valentine's Day party food table with taper candles

VALENTINE’S MENU

For the menu, I kept things simple. I found most of the food at Costco (no surprise there). The trick with Costco is simple: pour the food into silver plated dishes for an instant upgrade. My friend Jen made the scrumptious flourless chocolate cake, and my friend Sarah made these irresistible almond cookies. Here’s exactly what I served:

Valentine's Day party cake

SWEET:

  • Flourless chocolate cake
  • Almond cookies
  • Dates stuffed with cream cheese
  • Strawberry coated pretzels
  • French butter cookies (I first found them at Costco, then HAD to buy them on Amazon once Costco discontinued…)
  • Fresh fruit: black grapes and cherries
  • Bowl of Lindt chocolate truffles

SAVORY:

  • Labneh dip with roasted butternut squash & brown butter sage (My friend Jen served this dish at a baby shower, and I was hooked. Beware: Olivia’s reels are incredibly satisfying to watch and quite addictive.)
  • Crusty dutch oven bread
  • Manchego cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Gouda cheese
  • Cracker buffet
  • A giant bowl of popcorn
  • Garlic and herb marcona almonds

To Sip:

  • Iced coffee
  • Hot coffee
  • Herbal and black tea station
  • Strawberry lemonade
  • Bloodhound cocktail (because Goop said to include it, but honestly, I was underwhelmed…)
Valentine's Day party food table with balloon banner

VALENTINE’S DECOR

For decor, I didn’t do *much*. Here’s what I used:

  • These sweet “XOXO” balloon banners at Target for $3 right after Christmas, and their sweet simplicity won me over. I hung them around the house over some of my mirrors, and over the linen curtain that covers our sliding door, which I used as a backdrop to the buffet table.
  • Red bow tied around a glass candle holder for automatic (and on trend) decor!
  • Napkins and linens are part of the decor, and I found these scalloped cocktail sweeties on Amazon! For the large tablecloth, I used my favorite trick: a Home Depot canvas drop cloth. I’ve been using these for nearly 15 years to cover my tables. They are definitely the cheapest “cloth” covering for a table (besides maybe thrifting one). For the smaller drink tables, I used an older white linen tablecloth from Target, and a piece of thrifted red and white striped fabric.
  • My obsessively-collected secondhand taper candles came in handy. I placed these in silver-plated candlesticks and put them all over the house and on the buffet table. Voila, the decor was done! I ran out of time to decorate more, but you could also use red, pink, and white balloons, or red, pink, and white crepe paper streamers.
Valentine's Day party red bow decor

Valentine's Day party balloon decor

Valentine's Day party glassware

Valentine's Day party dishes and crockery

VALENTINE’S CROCKERY

Next up, the crockery! I also somewhat obsessively collect crockery (do we see an obsessive trend here???). I happened upon these red pleated Lenox plates at a local Restore, and HAD to have them. They were NOT $18 each (I paid $2.08 per plate). Since I had more than 12 guests, to supplement, I put out assorted pink/red/white dishes from my collection.

For the serving dishes and utensils, I used ALL silver-plated (and a few white or marble) pieces. Silver plated serving pieces and utensils are SO easy to find secondhand and usually relatively affordable (especially if you are patient and wait for it to pop up at good prices). Silver plate just elevates like no other, and I’ve been incredibly drawn to it recently. We use collected silver plated flatware day-to-day, so I have tons on hand.

Last, I used an assortment (surprise, surprise) of glassware for the drinks. Not only does it look pretty, it helps guests remember which glass belongs to them. Some of my glasses are from Athena Calderone’s collection with Crate & Barrel (purchased on sale, and they’re no longer available). The remainder are vintage, and were slowly collected over time!

Valentine's Day party drink menu

As you can see, last minute Valentine’s Day Party doesn’t have to take lots of time or be complicated! And as you can see, most of my decor and crockery is secondhand! If you aren’t throwing a party this year, you can keep these tips in mind as you thrift throughout the year. Make an effort to collect three things: taper candles, silver-plated serving pieces, and assorted luncheon sized plates! You will not regret this decision, I promise!

Three cheers for thrifty entertaining, and happy Valentine’s Day celebrating! ♥️♥️♥️

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