How’s tricks? The Gatsby Summer Afternoon was the bee’s knees this year!
The Gatsby Summer Afternoon is an event that I look forward to every year. It’s like stepping back in time to the Jazz Age and it’s just the most wonderful period event that I’ve been to. I love admiring all of the dames in vintage and handmade dresses and the dapper gents in their dandy duds. The music, the food, the picnics. We do it the best here in Northern California. No doubt about it.
For more about my dress and accouterments, check this post out.
Yep, this picnic is a big deal to a lot of us folks. We spend a lot of time researching and preparing this event. From our attire to our picnics. My husband and I buy early entry tickets so that we can drive on to the grounds in our modern car and set our picnic up a couple of hours before the event begins. They sold out of tickets again this year, so it we’ve been making a point to purchase ours as soon as they’re available.
Every year we’ve been stepping up our picnic. This year’s picnic is filled with vintage and handmade items. We bought a new pop-up gazebo tent last year and hung handmade bunting around it. I made that bunting (plus a lot more!) for our wedding (an Art Nouveau garden theme). I washed and ironed it, but should have brought another strand, as it didn’t quite go around our canopy. The chairs are from World Market as is our pineapple beverage container and cake tray. The stool (or hassock as I was told that it was) is from Morocco. The parasol is vintage 1920’s.
Most of our picnic comes from around our house. I don’t bring anything of immense familial value or anything that is irreplaceable, but I do like to have a snazzy and authentic picnic. I also want to mention that we’ve never had a problem with theft, nor have I heard of anyone else having that issue. Nor have we ever broken or lost anything.
My grandparents were quasi-diplomats who lived and traveled around the world and we inherited a lot of cool things as we now live in their house now that they have both passed. So yes, I walk around the house gathering items for our picnic. 🙂 The tablecloth and napkins have been at our last two picnics as well. They are hand cross-stitched linens made by nuns in Spain. The silver goblets also came from Spain as did the silver floor tray. My mom gave me the silver casserole (it’s a pyrex container) and I found a box of extra silver silverware in my grandma’s hutch (I wasn’t going to bring the “good” silver). I found the silver chip and dip at a yard sale for a couple of bucks and it was black. Now look at it! Let me tell you, I did A LOT of polishing.
The buffet plates are vintage as well (perhaps 20’s-40’s) and were a wedding gift to my husband and I. The dessert plates were my grandma’s as was the crystal vase and cookie bowl. The 50’s TV tray that the pineapple is on usually sits on our porch with a plant on it. The doilies were my grandma’s, too. The white floral serving dish is a gift from my mom. The basket on the top of the pile is a thrift store find and the other two are 50’s/60’s hampers of my grandparents’ that I recently unearthed. The glass bottles are from Ross and the crazy quilt was probably made in the 40’s/50’s. One time I brought some of the quilts made by my great-great aunts in Nova Scotia, but those are too precious and delicate to take out any more. I don’t think this quilt was made by them and is just one that my grandpa picked up somewhere, so I didn’t feel as bad as I would have if I had brought a 100 year old family heirloom (it’s also sturdier).
I am a table setting snob. I always have been. Blame it on my upbringing and the etiquette and manners classes of my youth. Plus, I had a proper rearing my mom and grandma on such things. Anyway…. I referred to my Art of the Table book to ensure I had the buffet setting correct and set the table up in my living room before hand to make sure. Of course, no one ever notices these things but me. No one seemed to notice our picnic either…. I guess when you’re next to a pagoda and surrounded by gorgeous picnics, you blend into the background.
I’ve done a bit of research on 1920’s picnic foods, and this is what I came up with this year (all from scratch of course!):
- Ham and Swiss sandwiches on honey yeast rolls (my husband’s grandma’s recipe)
- Potato salad (red potatoes, red onion, relish, mayo, mustard — yeah, you know the drill)
- Tropical fruit salad (pineapple, oranges, coconut, maraschino cherries – we stepped on the bananas that I was going to add last-minute, or they would have been included, too)
- Strawberry Coconut Cake (French vanilla coconut cake with strawberry compote filling, strawberry buttercream frosting and shredded coconut topping adorned with fresh strawberries)
- White Sangria (Sauvignon blanc, grand marnier, peaches, oranges, green apples, grapes)
- Lemonade (I made it tart, just like I like it!)
- Snickerdoodles (baked by my MIL)
The sangria is not too authentic for the US in the 20’s, but I imagined that we were bright young things in the 20’s who traveled to Spain and Morocco for our picnic. 🙂
I’ve become a vintage magazine collector and brought a 1920’s Delineator and Ladies Home Journal, plus this 1904 Home Needlework Magazine. The Art Nouveau mirror was a gift from my BFF and I made the pillows out of vintage fabric from my mom’s fabric stash. I also brought some embroidery to work on which I kept in the pine (maple?) cylindrical box (formerly my grandma’s sewing box) which you may notice in previous photos.
Yeah, I spent a lot of time planning to ensure that our picnic looked pretty authentic.
FYI: We took some photos at the ruins of the pool and pool house. I totally would not have done this if I hadn’t seen photos of people doing it last year. We got ushered out and watched people walk up there the rest of the day (we could see it from our picnic) and take photos, too, and get ushered out as well. 🙂 They’ll probably put a barrier next year. So, good bye to the Dark Shadows pool.
Some of the inappropriate dress of a few folks (i.e. Party City flapper, evening gowns, 1960’s dress, modern boho) got on my nerves as, to me, it takes you out of the era. I’ve heard that they were sticklers in the past and would turn people away at the gates and refund their money if they weren’t properly attired. That does not seem to be the case these days. The website tells you everything you need to know about what to wear and it’s easy to dress yourself and fit in. You don’t have to wear authentic vintage or sew your own dress. There’s many places to buy outfits or upcycle a thrifted one. There is also a Costume Closet at the event to dress people who come in not looking the part (which I think is only open at the beginning of the picnic). The carriage handlers were also in JEANS. MODERN JEANS. I realize they need to wear clothing to drive the horses, but up here in the Sierra foothills we have horse drawn carriages/stagecoaches and their drivers wear vintage dress when they handle them. Yeah…. I know…. I’m a nazi about this.
I did meet some wonderful gals who are costumers and I am now so very inspired to create the outfits of the past that I’ve always dreamed of making. I also just joined the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild and I look forward to attending events in the future. Plus, I think I’m going to make a plan to go to Costume College this year. 🙂
Overall, what a fantastic event as usual. We’ve already planned our event for next year which will be very different from this year’s picnic “theme” or any year previous. Plus, we also already have the stuff! And no, I’m going to tell you. It’ll be a secret until next September. I can’t wait. 🙂