Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Grey Gardens Costumed Viewing Party (Blogger Meetup Success!)

Good morning!

Whew, what a weekend it was, this weekend past! What did you get into? I spent mine in a flurry of activity as I hosted my second blogger meetup on Saturday night. Watch out, Elsa Maxwell, I'm still vying for the title "hostess with the mostess." Themed parties are even more fun than regular wingdings, so I made good on a promise elicited several months ago between Kimmie, Rae, Eartha and myself to have everyone over for a showing of Grey Gardens. I am always down to watch this movie for the 1,000,001 time, and wouldn't it be fun to see all the girls for a good reason?

If you haven't seen the Maysles's seminal documentary of East Hampton eccentricity (or the HBO tv movie based on the real life characters, which is ok/not too bad), I strongly urge you to get to the library and grab a copy. Or if you have Hulu, both the original Grey Gardens and its semi-sequel The Beales of Grey Gardens are available through their Criterion collection. The movie is a must-see! It presents an indelible portrait of Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, Jackie Kennedy's aunt and first cousin, respectively, who live in relative isolation in a falling-down New England mansion filled with cats, raccoons, and memorabilia from their halcyon days as members of high society. The real star of the show is Little Edie, whose eye-grabbing improvised wardrobe choices are truly some of the strangest/most inspired things you'll see this side of a fashion runway or mental hospital. Edie wears a series of scarves/bathtowels as headwraps and combines swimsuits, upside-down-pinned-together-skirts, turtlenecks, and an iconic brooch into what she deems "the best costume for the day". 

I knew if I was going to do a viewing party, a big part of the hype should be the "come in costume" portion of the invitation. And yours truly did spend the better part of a whole evening a week or two ago throwing together tights with headwraps in an attempt to get as close to Edie as I could. Was my room ever a mess! My first attempt, which involved an actual-sweater-as-headgear in a gesture of true fidelity to the original, ended with me looking like some kind of hijab-wearing chorus girl. Fail. I eventually settled on this much less severe, hugely oversized kerchief, and finally figured out how 1970s girls tie those dadblasted things to look like Rhoda (tie two ends tightly at the back, shift gently to side, keep in place with a bobby pin or two). See below: muuuuch better on the second try.

From Sharif he don't like it  to a staunch character S-T-A-U-N-C-H
With the headwrap locked down, I added my Esther-Williams style actual main bathing suit, a wrap around skirt I purposefully gathered the bottom of and tied at the hip, a black turtleneck, black tights, and, for the kicker, white sandals for about as-close a Grey Gardens look as I could pull together from my own closet:

Cheesecake shot of me which only serves to remind me to eat less cheesecake :p
Next, I sent out invitations via email with this image:
My favorite Windows-paint created format: ransom note chic.

And started thinking of how I wanted to do the table. The most important party planning to me involves what the table will look like and what we'll actually do at the party. I get excited to try and pull in creative ideas that will make it memorable (and give me a challenge in the meantime of how to pull it off). In this case, I knew I wanted stacks of newspaper, empty cat food cans, and a raccoon of some kind, along with a portrait of Edie and maybe some tiny American flags in homage to her third-act Fourth of July dance. I put in a call to my cat-owner friend Kelsey to save clean cat food cans she would otherwise recycle and put on my thinking cap for what else I could do.

VoilĂ  the finished product! I made a sign like the one of the two Edie had made for herself and her mother (her mom's says "The Great Singer Big Edie Bouvier Beale" and hers, as you see below, omits the "r" on "dancer" but touts her prowess at an old soft shoe or waltz), spread a parcel of ads I got in the mail earlier that week all across the table, printed off a life size raccoon on cardstock at Office Depot, and arranged the cans into a little pyramid about the faux critter's feet.

As for activities, I was stumped. I knew we were going to watch the movie, but in googling "Grey Gardens party", I couldn't find any suggested activities other than dressing up and watching the movie (both of which I had covered). So I went back to my teaching resource days and found a Bingo generator. The OTHER best part of the movie, besides Edie's clothes, is definitely how memorable a lot of the dialogue is. So I went through and copied down some of my favorite lines in the movie and made them into a series of unique bingo cards-- if you use a site like this, you can scramble the order of the spaces so each card is individual. Also, imagine if you haven't seen the movie before and you're reading through this card like, "Uh...is this what I'm in for?" I was really happy with the finished result!

As before any social event held at my house, the biggest nail-biting part of the party-throwing is not making the devilled eggs and the cake and cleaning the house (which are practically rote at this point for me), but worrying about whether or not anyone will show up! Real talk: about an hour before any party, I'm always stricken with a pang of self-doubt and an internal monologue of "Oh, God, why did I plan a party, what if like two people show up, I should never do anything" before Matthew eventually talks me down from the ledge (or I get cheered up by my outfit, lol). A few people sent their regrets, and 14 people RSVP'd over the mass email chain I'd sent out to lady bloggers of Nashville. "Hm," says I, "I figure that means I should plan for 10 and actually expect about 8." Well, color me surprised/shame on me for being pessimistic, but each and every of those fourteen people showed up! I should have known with the caliber of kiddies I was talking about that they would come out in force!

Group shot minus Sarah and Rory and Quincy

I stole an idea from a friend of mine's Halloween party (shout-out, Kate McC!) and passed around a selfie-stick with Matthew's phone on it to ensure lots of (albeit blurry) photos! Cast of characters included:

Eartha from Ranch Dressing With Eartha Kitsch and Rae from Say It Ain't So... Eartha knocked it out of the park in her movie-quality Big Edie costume and Rae was part of the pantsless swimsuit and tights club with yours truly:

Jamie and Kimmie from That Girl in the Wheelchair, showing off some patriotic pride with a tiny flag-- Kimmie also wins the prize for "most brooches":

1) Aubrey from Adventures in Aubreyland, Amanda from Junebugs and Georgia Peaches, Jenna from Kitty Cat Stevens, and another appearance from Jamie and Kimmie; 2) the aforementioned minus Jenna, Jamie, and Kimmie but PLUS Quincy from Qsdayream (you can't see her polkadot skirt but it was super cute). Check out Aubrey's spot on headwrap and Amanda's magnifying glass (nice touch!). Jenna came from another event, so we can't hold it against her she didn't want to show up to a non-Edie-Beale-themed-party in Edie Beale attire, lol.

Lauren from Lladybird.com and Devon from Miss Make, lookin' fabulous:

Rory and Sarah from sarahcomo.com (they should get a shout out for being so color coordinated/ adroit at taking selfie stick selfies):

And last but not least, Quincy gave Matthew her phone to take a few group shots, and ended up with Bub taking like 10 selfies after he took the desired group photo. He cracks me up.

Most everyone brought something to eat or drink, but a special shout out to Eartha, who brought this cake with a message. I about died. The quote is (duh) from the movie and perfect:

Verdict? We had a ball! At one point, I think every chair in the house was in the living room for the actual screening, but every one of the guests were real troupers and put up with the sea-of-people squeezed into my front room! The first three winners of Grey Gardens Bingo were Kimmie, Sarah, and Amanda, respectively, and there were some honorable mentions passed around along with certificates of achievement (who doesn't like to win?). We finished the movie and watched clips from Documentary Now!, where Fred Armisen and Bill Heder do a pretty accurate spoof of the Beale ladies (minus the New England accents! I don't know why they decided not to do them when they're such a big part of the movie!), and then just sat around and caught up. The cheerful, high decibel din of people having a good time is about the best you can ask for from a party, and overall, I thought it was a success! I'm so glad to know so many fun and interesting gals in the Nashville area and happy we could all get together even during this busy holiday season!

I bid my last guests good night around 11:30 and promptly went to bed, lol. But I still had cake and hummus to eat Sunday, and a clean house to enjoy, which is the SECOND best part about throwing a party. :)

The lady of the hour, Miss Beale
Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate! And we need to do it again soon! (hint hint, nudge, cough, *karaoke party Rae* cough).

How about you? Are you a Grey Gardens fan? What would you wear for an Edie inspired costume? Had any great themed parties to attend lately? Let's talk!

That's all for today... but shame on me, I'm going to try to be better about updating this space! Have a fantastic week and I'll talk to you soon. Til then!


  1. I had so much fun, lady! You throw a damn good party and I cannot wait for karaeoke fest! Also I finally got to meet Ms Kitsch after 100s of exchanged messages, emails and even snail mail!!!

    1. KARAAAAOOOKKKE...I am so ready. And I am glad you guys got to meet, we need to get more of us together at the same time more often! :)

  2. Looks super fun! Glad y'all had a good time.

    1. I just realized you're not on the (unwieldly, yet somehow incomplete) email list! :p We gotta get you out to the next one, lady, send me your address at shewasabird at yahoo dot com and we'll fix that! :D

  3. Big, big fun! You are sincerely the hostess with the mostest.



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