The ultimate moonlit summer garden party
Welcome to my first ever theatre-themed dinner party! As a lifelong lover of the arts, this is an exciting moment for me. I’ve wanted to host A Midsummer Night’s Dream party since I first read the William Shakespeare play in high school. It’s an enchanting theme for a party with fun elements to play with such as moonlight, fairies, and the forest.
The play centers around four Athenians in ancient Greece who are caught up in complicated romances and stumble into a fairy-filled forest where chaos, hilarity, and mistaken identity ensues. (The movie is set in Italy at a later date but I based my party on the play, not the film.) For my Midsummer Night’s Dream party, I imagined that we stumbled into the forest and sat down for a glamorous fairy dinner with Fairy Queen Titania and Fairy King Oberon. Here’s how I hosted my Midsummer Night’s Dream party, recipes and all!
I planned Midsummer during a full moon for added light and because the play makes numerous references to the moonlight. If I was hosting this for myself and not for all of my readers to see, I would have had an entirely moonlit dinner, but that would have been awfully dark for the whole episode! A Midsummer Night’s Dream party should absolutely be held outside so I set up my party in the back corner of my yard under my favorite tree.
“And thence from Athens turn away our eyes
To seek new friends and stranger companies.”
I hung a chandelier above the table from a tree branch that I made by wrapping Plow and Hearth branch lights around a craft store wreath base and Plow and Hearth fairy lights around the twine used to hang it from my tree. So easy! Never underestimate the power of cool lighting. It’s a party trick I often use to make a space more magical. My friends kept commenting on the beauty of the chandelier all night long.
“My soul is in the sky.”
There are many references in the play to the color violet and most of it is set in the forest so I chose green and purple as my color scheme with yellow accents to represent the moon. I used my mint green tablecloth first seen at my Princess and the Frog dinner party (still one of my favorite parties to date!) paired with a moss runner for the forest floor.
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”
I’m really proud of these flowers. I styled four low floral arrangements with white roses, yellow roses, statice, purple alstroemeria, iris, and dark and light purple stock. The woman working the floral department at Central Market even complimented the combination!
I let the statice and stock stick out taller than the rest and just kept fussing them until I got it right. I set all four vases out and distributed the stems fairly equally among the vases. No two were exactly the same but they at least had similar amounts of each type of flower. Pro tip: cut your flowers the day the before the party and let them settle, then fine tune the arrangement the day of the party.
The Place Setting
For the place setting, I used my gorgeous wood chargers that my dad made for my Snow White dinner party. These are real wood slices I scored for $2 each. My dad sanded and sealed them and now they’re the most beautiful chargers. If you don’t want to make them, wood chargers are easy to find at kitchen stores. I love this look for A Midsummer Night’s Dream because it helps pull the natural elements of the forest on to the table.
I used my Emma plates from Pottery Barn and violet napkins tied with twine and thyme cut from my garden for the line, “Where the wild thyme grows.” I used gold and branch silverware as a nod to the Fairy Queen and King and the fact that we were in ancient Greece.
“Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?”
Ah, the fashion! My friends really brought their Midsummer A-game to this party. I “bounded” as one of the Athenians, Hermia, and wore a mint green Grecian dress styled with a gold leaf headband, gold jewelry, and my Greek sandals I had custom made in Athens ten years ago. (They are still some of the most comfortable shoes I own. If you’re ever in Greece, get sandals. They’ll change your life.)
Emily wore a lovely blue and white maxi dress for her Helena look, paired with a gold leaf headband.
Morgan and Gabriel went all out for their Titania and Oberon looks, renting outfits, wings, and accessories from Rose Costumes. I was so impressed with their costumes, I had to give Rose a shoutout. To be honest, it’s never even occurred to me to rent a look from a costume shop!
Christopher made the most amazing headpiece and had such colorful makeup for his Puck look.
Alle’s earrings kept dancing in the breeze, as carefree and charming as she is. She paired a lacey white crop top and brown mini skirt for her Peaseblossom look.
I wanted a menu celebrating the earth and my favorite line of the play:
“Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!”
Yes, I did manage to squeeze cherries into all three courses and the cocktail! I was tempted to serve Greek food for the main course since it’s my favorite cuisine and if you follow me on social media (@therosetable!), you know that I cook Greek food almost every week of my life. But I really had my heart set on serving Kissing Cherries Chicken as the main course so I went a little Greek with honey and fruits on the cheese board.
Midsummer Cheese Board
This is what cheeseboard dreams are made of, friends. I highlighted the flavors of nature and summertime on this beautiful board. Since it’s Midsummer, I also chose ingredients that are best in the summertime. This board consists of herbed goat cheese, an English cheddar (since Shakespeare is English), a spicy three-pepper gouda, ricotta with lingonberry jam, marscapone with sour cherry jam (there’s another cherry element!), Mustardseed salami (which, of course, is for the fairy Mustardseed), and prosciutto.
I also included honeycomb and whipped honey as a nod to Greece and because fairies love sweet things. Those paired particularly well with the spicy gouda.
I added strawberries, peaches, and pink lemonade blueberries for the fruits. I wanted the whole board to have a blush-hue because it felt summery and I almost fell over when I saw pink blueberries at Central Market. Be flexible when you’re at the store and buy what looks best.
I always have nuts on a cheese board and just so happened to have herbed Marcona almonds from Kuhlman Cellars leftover from a recent trip to Fredericksburg. If you haven’t had Marcona almonds, you’re in for a treat. They’ve divine little nuggets of salty goodness and made even better with herbs!
I chose rosemary crackers and wild seed crackers for the board because I wanted it all to taste very natural and earthy. The rosemary crackers with marscapone, sour cherry jam, and prosciutto was my favorite bite from the board! Learn how to make this beautiful board here.
Kissing Cherries Chicken
Grilled airline chicken breasts are topped with an incredible cherry sauce served over a bed of rosemary roasted potatoes. It’s all about the sauce, baby. I could write sonnets about this sauce! It’s only a few ingredients: olive oil, garlic, cherries, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary. That’s it! Let it perfume your entire home as it reduces. Your guests will walk in the door swooning. This would also be delicious over pork or lamb. Get the recipe here.
“So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition,
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem.”
Lavender Dream Cake
Three layers of super moist dark chocolate cake are topped with lavender vanilla frosting and the whole cake is piled high with juicy blackberries and fresh summer cherries. I chose lavender for the dessert flavor to represent the Dream in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lavender helps you sleep and sleeping is what gets the Athenians into so much trouble in the forest.
This is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. If you don’t like lavender, please try this cake. My mom very much dislikes lavender in food and declared this one of the best cakes she’s ever had. My guests each had a second slice after the party! Get the recipe here.
I’m in love with each and every sip served at Midsummer! I really wanted to start with an elderflower cocktail because that seemed the most fairy to me. For the first course, I served Love-in-Idleness, a champagne cocktail I came up with for this party. It consists of Chambord liquor, St. Germaine elderflower liquor, champagne, and an amarena cherry. It’s a gorgeous shade of amber and hardly even tastes like alcohol. It’s named after the flower that Puck uses as a love potion on the Athenians, perfect for a cocktail name, don’t you think? Get the recipe here.
For the main course, I served Deloach Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with the chicken dish. I know what you’re thinking: red wine with chicken? Hear me out. The point of the main course wasn’t the chicken, it was the cherry sauce. So I paired the wine to the sauce. This ruby-hued Pinot Noir has notes of red summer berries and vanilla and was absolute magic with the cherry sauce.
Last but not least, I served lavender vanilla coffee from Prayer Lavender Farm with the cake. It was a beautiful way to end the evening!
It was such a magical evening and a delicious menu. If you recreate this party, show me with the hashtag #TheRoseTable. I love seeing your party pictures! Comment and tell me: should I throw another theatre-themed party?
“Farewell, sweet playfellow.”
Watch the episode here:
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