Recently I planned a farewell lunch for a good friend of mine who was moving to Europe. The RSVPs were in, the caterers lined up, the silver polished, the menu and place cards already on the table, and buckets of flowers waited to be arranged. On the morning of the party, the minor precipitation predicted became six inches of a wet, heavy snow surprise that made our street impassable, and most of Washington’s roads treacherous. It doesn’t take much for Washington to skid to a stop, if you’ll forgive the expression, in winter weather; the city’s snow removal motto seems to be “It’ll melt eventually.” And so my friend’s farewell luncheon was cancelled, with frantic mid-morning calls and emails to guests. (There’s nothing worse than cancelling a party and forgetting to tell one person – who shows up on your doorstep expectantly, leaving you to explain lamely how you somehow let everyone know – except them. It feels a lot like finding out you’re the only person who hasn’t been invited to a party.)
The centerpiece for lunch – something I came up with after watching a rerun of Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” – was a tour de force of white, cream, and pink roses, and had already been arranged by the time we realized we had to cancel. There were buckets of other flowers still soaking in the kitchen, so I resolved to make the best use of them that I could. The centerpiece was re-arranged into a smaller, more manageable container, which was dropped off at the guest of honor’s house the next day. The other flowers were put together into all sorts of different containers and combinations, and the result is what you see here. The next day I sent the fresher bouquets and boxes of pastel macaron party favors around to a few close friends.
It’s always a disappointment to have to cancel a party, but there’s some consolation in knowing that it takes much less time to un-make a party than it does to plan it. I’m sorry I didn’t get to give my friend the sendoff we’d planned, but now I can share some floral ideas you might not otherwise have seen. One of the first things I learned while planning parties at the White House was to expect the unexpected and make the best of it. At least the dogs were happy – Auggie rolled around in the snow until it caked across his eyes and face and left him stumbling around the garden like he’d been eating the brandy snaps intended to go with dessert.