When life gives you lemons, throw a lemon-inspired party, like the one Jen Nordine from Freckles on Fillmore created for a ‘Farewell Summer’ soirée in San Francisco. From the lemon-inspired florals and décor to the delicious food and drink options, no detail was left unturned at this fun gathering. At the end of reading about this party, we’re confident you will either be inspired to organize and host your own outdoor party this fall or yearn for a cold glass of lemonade (or both!). Either way, we’re sure you’ll learn a thing or two to help enhance your next gathering—whether it’s set in the summer or any season of the year. See all of the details of the sweet lemon-inspired soirée below!
While the rest of the country may be cooling down and fall is in full effect, in San Francisco, this means Indian summer is here! The weather in San Francisco is actually warmer now than it is during the actual summer. In fact, the best time to visit the city is between September and early December. It’s the season every San Franciscan looks forward to most, yet it seems none of the tourists have caught on. But let’s keep that between you and I. It’s the perfect time for entertaining—especially a backyard get-together. I was set out to create an Indian summer soirée in my “secret garden” terrace in Russian Hill, San Francisco. I wanted everything to feel fresh, fun and charming as we soak up the last dose of warmth in the city.
Florals & Décor
This styling idea all began with these Kate Spade Lemon Napkins—the styling was centered around those simple napkins and I think we pulled it off. The décor was inspired by all things lemon and the table was draped with a Williams-Sonoma outdoor tablecloth. We added texture and layers with the straw round chargers, lemon napkins, bar cart and pillows to keep it cozy and fun. The cherry on top, by Chrissy McDonald from Harlowe James, were floral arrangements consisting of beautiful café au lait dahlias, miniature roses and yellow billy ball flowers set in gorgeous ginger jar vases. When she showed up with these perfect blooms, I was head over heels in love. The gorgeous vases and florals, designed by Chrissy, were the centerpiece and really brought the table to life. The menu and laser cut names were beautifully designed by Courtnee Cloud at Shimmer & Stain.
Event, Floral Design by Harlowe James
The menu consisted of California crab cakes with lemon sweet pepper aioli, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with lemon-infused oil and grilled lemon rosemary with garlic au jus. All food, drinks and desserts had a minimum of a zest of lemon in order to stay true to our lemon theme.
Menu and Laser Cut Name Place Cards by Shimmer & Stain
When life gives you lemons, slice them up and find some gin or mezcal or tequila! When it comes to a party, drinks are obviously in order. There are so many unique recipes with lemons these days, so this is a great way for you and your friends to step outside of your comfort zone and try new ones. We decided to have three themed drinks for our lemon backyard soirée:
Lounging Lavender Spritzer
- 1.5 oz Vodka
- Juice of a half lemon
- 0.3 oz simple syrup
- Shake with rosemary and lavender. Strain.
- Topped with club soda
- Served in a Collins Glass
- 1.5 oz Mezcal
- Juice of a half lemon
- 0.3 oz Agave
- .5 oz Ancho Reyes Liqueur
- Mashed blueberry in shaker. Strain.
- Topped with ginger beer
- Garnish with a lemon wheel and blueberry garnish
- Served in a Coupe
- 1.5 oz gin
- Juice of a half lemon
- 0.3 oz Simple syrup
- Shake with 3-4 cucumber slices and 3-4 mint leaves. Strain.
- Topped with tonic water
- Garnish cucumber and mint
Water Color and Sign Calligraphy – Lindsay Norman
In my group of friends, we love our desserts, but also like to stay mindful of sugar, gluten and for some, dairy intake. The three desserts were handcrafted by the talented pastry chef, Kelly Nordine, my baby sister, from Donuts and Daisies. They were all gluten-free creations that somehow disappeared within the first hour. I’d like to plead the fifth on whether or not I was part of that. The first to go were the vanilla bean macarons with vanilla lemon buttercream, followed by lemon almond cake with lemon curd and whipped frosting, and coconut lemon tartlets with whipped cream.
Desserts by Donuts and Daisies
The Little Details
It’s funny how women seem to always notice and admire the little details; it’s in our DNA. I don’t know about you, but we love pretty things, and for this particular soirée, we were inspired by pretty bright pops of color and lemon-themed décor! To bring our party to life, we sprinkled Williams Sonoma lemon-scented candles, Little Market blankets in each seating area (especially useful for when the sun goes down for your guests) and a bar cart to add the perfect touch. The bar cart was topped with a watercolor masterpiece of our three themed drinks by the incredibly talented, Lindsay Norman, along with her “you’re my main squeeze” calligraphy sign. We layered a round olive wood board from the Little Market along with Beer Thirty glasses and a miniature marble bowl of lemons. Everyone should have some pretty olive wood pieces in their home collection. They look amazing standing on their own in your kitchen and they are incredibly useful! The goodie bags were my favorite part of planning. Each brown bag was filled with Drybar Lemon Drop Mini Hair Brushes, Sugarfina Limoncello Cordials, Belvoir Organic Elderflower Presse Lemonade and Lemon Face Masks.
Vendor Credits: Video by WMackie Productions, Chair & Table Rental by Big 4 Party Rentals // Wardrobe Styling & Models – Sierra Chantal, Monika Lang, Cortney King and Lexi Woods // Catering by Above & Beyond Catering // Drinks by SF Bartenders