Back to School! I dreaded these words as a kid, but as a parent, it brings a bit of relief. Gone are the careless days of summer, where the kids sleep in, there’s no homework, and sports commitments are minimal. But, I crave the routine that school brings and quite frankly, by August, we are ready to go back. To celebrate the new academic year and see friends I haven’t seen all summer, I invited a few of them over for a Hallelujah Lunch – as in Hallelujah, the kids are back in school!
It’s such a busy time of year, so I made sure this party was as easy as possible. This is the time to call in for help – and I enlisted my favorite fast, healthy restaurant for take-out. All that was left to do was arrange everything on a platter and enjoy catching up with friends.
Set a few days before the party, I used what I already had for table decor, making sure that it was bright and cheerful. Home Goods had this gorgeous Kate Spade floral table runner and napkins, so I grabbed those earlier in the summer as soon as I saw them.
Gerber daises were very easy to arrange – alternating colors of orange and hot pink give off a fun vibe and coordinate with the Kate Spade table linens.
The Place Setting
Lenox is one of my favorites for entertaining. Their dinner plate and accent plate from their gold-rimmed tulip-shaped collection is one I go back to time and time again. It’s so versatile – all I need to do is add a fun salad plate like this gold polka-dot one by Kate Spade for Lenox, a vibrant napkin and placemat or unique napkin ring and I can completely change the look of these.
Favors are always appreciated, so I found these darling boxes of inspiration notes and gave each guest one to take home. Bunches of pencils are a whimsical touch, reminding everyone that the kids are definitely back in school!
Flatware is my newest obsession (sorry napkins – you’ve had your turn and now I have more than I can handle) and these from Lekoch do not disappoint. They are a knock-off of the Cutipol brand, which is so lovely, but very expensive. Check out this gold and white flatware link for all of the color combos available. Quite frankly, I think these are just as stunning and make such an impact. At one-tenth of the price, I could get a another set! Hmmmm . . .
Flower Child is a local favorite restaurant of mine – I ordered a couple raw veggie plates with avocado hummus and pita bread as a healthy appetizer. I used a cake platter to give some height to the table and make it more interesting than a flat plate or tray.
Kale salads are a mainstay at my house during the week and are a great choice for plan-ahead entertaining. This lettuce is sturdy enough to hold dressing for several hours if needed. Just pour the vinaigrette or dressing on the bottom of your platter and toss about 30 minutes before you want to serve.
With segmented grapefruit, black currants, aged cheddar, smoked almonds, and an apple cider vinaigrette, it’s no wonder this is their most popular salad. Here’s a great recipe for the apple cider vinaigrette.
Beverages and Desserts
Serving alcohol on the first day of school seemed a bit aggressive, so I opted for an energizing green tea that I garnished with fresh lemon slices and mint. I also offered a refreshing blackberry lemonade with strawberries and basil snipped from the garden.
Baking has never been my forté, so I always look to the pros for store-bought desserts. Barb’s Bakery is a favorite here in Phoenix and they always have the cutest and delectable cookies – flip flops were a perfect send-off to the summer. My other favorite is Tammy Coe Cakes – her round, glazed sugar cookies have just a hint of lemon and nutmeg for the best flavored treat in town.
For more ideas on the best store-bought desserts, check out my blog that I dedicated entirely to this subject! Bad Baker Desserts: Best Store-Bought Treats
Best wishes for a wonderful and safe school year with happy, healthy kids and teachers. Here’s hoping you can host your own Hallelujah Lunch! Xoxo