The First Dinner Party in Our Dining Room & All My Tips!

June 18, 2020

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Last week, Idaho moved to stage 4 of the reopening which allows gatherings up to 99 people. After months and months of social distancing, my family of 21 got together for the first time this year! It was also the first dinner party in our new dining room! We embraced the opportunity and dreams came true. And I have to say: Our ideals around entertaining have changed in a post-quarantine world. We appreciate the togetherness even more, and a dinner party feels even more like a big deal.

I shared the play by play of getting ready for the dinner party on Sunday, and my DMs were flooded with questions about everything from hosting to serving to budget to setting the table, so I thought it might be helpful to round up our tips for throwing a big dinner party in 2020, partially because I want to remind myself how to duplicate such a great night (it was so great) and partially because I hope you get to use some of these — and that is to say: I hope you and your family are healthy and getting to gather SOON.

Send Invites

I purchased a dinner party template on Etsy, customized it and sent it to our family text thread. I strongly recommend making an invitation because it helps people take it seriously. We asked everyone to wear “Sunday Dress” because we wanted to go for a slightly more formal vibe (and nicer clothes *also* make people take it more seriously). I started thinking about the invitations I’ve received that have come with suggested attire and remembered how I started planning my outfit before I even decided I was going. Maybe it’s a little nudge in the direction of “Alright, I’m definitely going.”

I put all of this emphasis on getting people to come because there’s nothing more disappointing to me than planning a really fun and delicious dinner party and having people cancel. I think most of the time, we feel like it’s not a big deal. I guess I’m trying to make it into a big deal :)

Get Ready Early

I always get myself ready the morning of a dinner party — at the very least I do my hair. This frees up the rest of the day for party prep and ensures that I’m not throwing my hair up in a bun at the last minute or taking a quick shower while guests are pulling into the driveway. 30 minutes before guests are due to arrive, I change into my party clothes.

I like giving myself plenty of time to set the table, too! I enlisted the help of our two older daughters pulling all the dinnerware and utensils and glasses from the credenza in the dining room where we store all of the “dinner party ware” and although it took us an hour to set the table with helpful little hands, it was so fun to do it together.

When to Plate, Serve Family Style and Plan for a Buffet

While I was on house prep, Chris was on cooking (no surprise there) and made a whole schedule for the day, breaking down the meal prep hour by hour. He planned a buffet-style menu for our 21 guests. As a rule, Chris likes to plate the food for gatherings of less than 10 people. Ten to 15 people usually means we’ll be eating family-style. But 21 definitely calls for a buffet, and we were excited to put the food out on the new “fauxdenza” (still owe you a post on that!) that we installed in the dining room. With a group this large, the passing would get out of hand, and the food would be cold by the time it got to you.


Do As Many Dishes As You Can Before the Party Starts

I’ll sudsy-up all of the pans and utensils that Chris is cooking with, and make sure the dishwasher is empty. Not only will the kitchen look nice for company, but we won’t be starting at ground zero when cleanup time rolls around. My goal is always to have the prep plates and pans cleaned and put away before the party starts.

Go Low on the Flowers, High on the Candles

I bought inexpensive potted flowers at our grocery store and folded paper bags around them for centerpieces. They were stalky and cute and low enough that you could see everyone’s faces over them. I like tall candlesticks and tapers for big dinner parties to avoid the panic of napkins-in-votives (especially with little ones around the table).

Put On a Chill Playlist

When music is on in the background, the energy of the party is in place before anyone even gets there. There will never be an awkward silence–even for the early birds.  This night we went for one of Chris’s “slow jams playlist” and it created a warm, comforting ambience.

Shop and Cook Smart

To feed the masses on a budget, Chris made a mouth-watering beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, grilled carrots, and an abundant green salad with blue cheese crumbles. The entire grocery bill was under $150 (including the apps!) to feed all 21, and we had leftovers. (Entertaining hack: “Splurge” on a generous cut of meat and then fill out the menu with tasty twists on inexpensive sides that go a long way, like potatoes and root vegetables.) Pork tenderloin is even more friendly on the wallet!

Buy Yourself Some Time

In the breakfast nook area, I pulled the chairs out to the wall and set out appetizers. It was an easy way to maneuver around the table and sit and chat if you wanted. Charcuterie buys you one full hour. Cleverly disguised as the cushion for late arrivals and snacks to tide over hungry guests — putting out meats and cheeses and crackers and fruit and pickles and nuts (okay, now I’m hungry) actually gives you bonus time to finish dinner. The grill ran out of pellets, so Chris had to finish the tenderloin in the oven, so this extra time was clutch. Check out this old post on how to make the perfect charcuterie here.

Don’t stress too much about a signature cocktail/mocktail, but have one.

I didn’t take the mixologist Master Class and we don’t drink or serve alcohol, but a special drink served next to a glass of water will make the whole evening feel next level. While everyone was snacking on charcuterie, I poured Newman’s Own Lemonade and Martinelli’s Apple-Pomegranate Sparkling Cider into a fat pitcher with ice. It was tart and fizzy and everyone Mmm’ed their first sip, and I didn’t distill a thing. There were no syrups or garnishes in sight.

Prepare Some Table Talk

Chris and I had spent our date night (the night before the party) taking quizzes and reading up on our Enneagrams. I’m a 3 (The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious) and Chris is a 5 (The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated). This was a great conversation-starter (not that my outgoing family needed any help), and before it was time to clear the plates, we were “diagnosing” and reading about everyone’s personality types.

Invest in a Second Dishwasher, but think about saving the Cleanup until Morning

Several of you told us that we might appreciate two dishwashers, but, okay, we believe you. If you love to entertain, like we do, you’ll be loading and unloading the dishwasher a couple times after a party. This first big family party in our new dining room definitely brought into focus the need for a second dishwasher in our someday kitchen renovation. But clearing the table, with so many extra hands around, was easy. (We’ve heard the life hack of using a bar cart to wheel all of the dirty dishes into the kitchen, but to us this bonus piece of furniture doesn’t feel worth it, a tray worked great!) After putting the plates in the dishwasher for round 1, I saved the rest until morning. Chris likes the downtime after cooking all day, and I like to soak up the company. And I like my company not to worry about helping! I *like* cleaning, and is it weird if doing the dishes the morning after feels like a nice time to reminisce?

Document It

Chris and I hired a photographer because my family hadn’t all been together since Christmas, and even then — there weren’t mantle-worthy photos taken. Everyone was going to be dressed up, and it felt like a good time to document the year, how big the kids are getting, all of the individual families… No matter your group, I’m betting you haven’t been able to get together a lot this year. And the pandemic really helped us to appreciate the moments when we could make it happen. Take pictures, even if you have to set the timer on your phone. It’ll be a great night to look back on when you’re missing your people.

Stock a basket of S’mores stuff

Chris’s best-laid plan for grilled peaches and ice cream was a no-go since the grill was out of commission, but we pivoted quickly to dessert around the firepit with our S’mores basket. I can’t recommend this with more enthusiasm: In our pantry, we have a large flat basket of graham crackers, marshmallows, Ghirardelli chocolate squares, Reese’s Cups, and telescoping firepit prongs all in one spot that’s easy to grab with the sun starts going down. Everyone has their own take on the best S’mores “recipe” and the best technique. This snacktivity is a crowd-pleaser.


Having our first, big dinner party in our new house and in our new dining room under our belt felt like a dream come true and we learned so much, too. What’s working (that fauxdenza is a work horse! and the lighting is so soft and warm!) and what’s not (definitely could use some felt under the chairs–oops!). But if I could give one piece of advice it would be–it might not be perfect, it probably won’t be (hi, the grill stopped working!), but when the time is right where you live, don’t shoot for perfection, go for getting together.


Wall Color: Alabaster by Sherwin Williams
Trim Color: Accessible Beige by Sherwin Williams
Doors: Pella
Floors (Dark: Neuro, Light: Magnifica Calacatta Oro)
Pendant Lights
White Vase
Faux Stems
Fiddle Leaf
Wood Salad Bowl
Appetizer Plates

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What do you think?

  1. Patti says:

    Oh, that your dining table was still available! Does anyone know of anything similar?

  2. Sara says:

    Did you end up swapping out the slipcovered World Market chairs? I am thinking of purchasing and would love your opinion on them!

  3. WNC says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Yet, frightening.

  4. Molly says:

    I love everything about this!! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  5. Joanna says:

    What a great (fun, happy, useful, beautiful) post. This totally made me smile, and I think it’s because your joy gathering together was so apparent. Thanks :)

  6. Adele says:

    Such a beautiful blog post!!

  7. Sounds like so much fun! I love that you had the flowers low, there’s nothing worse than having to try to see someone from across the table from around a flower arrangement ????

  8. Julie S says:

    What a great story! I loved imagining it. Your dining room is lush <3 Re: enneagram I'm a 5 and totally working that perceptive, secretive, isolated thing!!! I don't know what my husband is but he's much more gregarious and assertive than I am, but also needs good doses of alone time to tinker mixed in. We do big parties once or twice a year and my method is buy most of it from Costco so I don't have to deplete myself with cooking stress, and can enjoy company when it arrives. I have almost as many food restrictions as Julia and it's just easier to make a little something for me to eat privately and dish up regular food to the masses.

  9. Sophia says:

    How was the silverware? Do the knives cut well? The ratings weren’t great but they’re so beautiful!

  10. Katherine Luner says:

    Please tell me where you find beef tenderloin that cheap because I can easy drop $200 on that to feed our extended family of 10 around the holidays… and that’s “cheap!”

  11. Ashley says:

    Ooh enneagram numbers is such an interesting topic! It’s funny seeing your types because I’m a 5 and my husbands a 3! I read somewhere that this was actually a common couple pairing because it’s a really good balance of complementary strengths and weaknesses. Not sure if that is true but I’ve found it to be accurate in my relationship, anyway.
    Your gathering looks like it was lovely. We were recently able to gather together again with some of my family and it was so wonderful to have a taste of normalcy again.

  12. Mimi says:

    Thank you for this post! Congratulations on being able to gather with your family. Questions-
    1) How many potatoes were used to feed 21 people mash potatoes? What kind does Chris like to use? Yukon, Russet, fingerling?
    2) In the photo, I guess, the bowl with the towel on top is the mash potatoes? Is that really the way you kept them warm? Did all the servings fit in that bowl or did you need to refill a couple times? How does one keep mash potatoes warm that are waiting in the kitchen to go to the serving bowl? I ask because I always struggle to have warm mash potatoes at Thanksgiving– they always get cold, so sad.
    3) How many pounds of meat did you buy for the 21 people?
    Okay this next part isn’t a question, but definitely wanted to share with you and perhaps you know this tip already — in case you don’t here it is:
    If you choose to use it, perhaps you could soak the silverware or hold off on buying that second dishwasher….

    • Chris says:

      I used a 10lb bag of russet potatoes and it ended up being the perfect amount. I make my potatoes very last, and cover them with foil to prevent too much heat loss or the top of them from drying out. It all fit in that one bowl (it’s very large).

      One thing I do is, I boil the potatoes first and, if there’s a bit of time before eating, I will drain the potatoes and set them aside while keeping the pot of potato water still on the stove on low heat to keep the water hot. Then, just before making the potatoes, I drop them in the hot water for 30 seconds to warm them up before I mash them. And I also heat up anything I add to the potatoes – I melt the butter (vegan butter in our case), I bring the stock to a boil before adding, I warm the garlic in a bit of olive oil – so everything that goes in is warm.

      We used about 7 pounds of meat for 21 people.

    • Stacy says:

      Hi Mimi – chiming in just in case you want further tips on the mashed potatoes :)

      I also always mash my potatoes last, but how do you feel about keeping them warm in a slow cooker? If you don’t like the aesthetics of that (especially for a fancy dinner party) do you have a dutch oven? I have a 7 quart cast iron dutch oven that I use to make my mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. It held more than enough for 20+ people last year, and the iron holds heat well enough that the potatoes getting cold was never an issue. The enameled dutch ovens are particularly beautiful, and lots of brands make them at different price points.

      Good luck on your potato adventures!

  13. Amanda Tonidandel says:

    Looks perfect!! ???? how did you create the Ikea credenza with black on the top? Sorry if I miss that part! ????

  14. SG says:

    Gosh I LOVE that you hired a photographer for this, that’s such a great idea! Having a pro to alleviate any additional feelings of obligation to you/your guests to document is so nice, AND the opportunity to get family photos and large group shots is so worth it.

  15. Helena says:

    I love the look of candles, but always worry someone might knock one over. Any tips?

  16. Courtney says:

    LOVED the statement, “I put all of this emphasis on getting people to come because there’s nothing more disappointing to me than planning a really fun and delicious dinner party and having people cancel.” As someone who loves to plan big gatherings, this rings so true. I get so frustrated with friends who cancel last minute all of the time. I put a lot of effort into hosting, and you just “weren’t feeling it” on going out? (insert frustrated sigh here) I love the idea of formalizing the invite to really drive home the point that you are putting effort into this and expect them to put some effort in as well! I will give the invite a try (once we can gather as well).

  17. Ellen says:

    Will you share Chris’s prep schedule that day too please? A man after my own heart

  18. Lindsey says:

    Oh no that gorgeous floor got scratched?! Bound to happen, but man that first scratch hurts!
    In my family, some of the introverts always jump to wash dishes. I guess it’s their way of taking a moment of quiet to themselves but it’s so nice because I both hate cleaning in the morning and hate missing the party to clean lol!

  19. Chris Loves Julia says:

    We adhered to all of the guidelines put out by our state and will continue to do so. There’s no face-rubbing here. We’re eager to see other states open up and will celebrate along with you when you can gather again with your loved ones.

  20. Jen says:

    Any tips on how you handle candlestick wax drips? I feel like that always ruins my table linens. Are there alternate ideas to avoid dripping candles so you can use them?

    PS. Everything looks beautiful (as always) and I fully support you sharing ALL the gatherings you do, with or without the rest of the world opening up. Every person has to manage their feelings and worries of this virus on their own and the best thing we can all do is RESPECT how others manage even if it’s not how we would do it!

  21. Tracy says:

    Thank you for sharing! This floor and room is so beautiful. Now that you’ve had a chance to take this room for a spin, I have a question about acoustics. This question actually stems from issues in my own dining room. We don’t have carpet or fabric drapes, and even with an area rug and fabric on our table, there are harsh acoustics when more than one conversation occurs at a time or someone has a sharp laugh, etc. Our room is much smaller than yours but whenever I see the photos of yours I wonder how it would play out during gatherings. Part of our home’s issue is actually because of the type of wall material but I would love to hear if acoustics were an issue (like the felt on chair legs :) ) and if so how you would improve upon it without compromising aesthetics? This is something I commonly notice in restaurants too.

    • Julia says:

      Oh good question! And one that we were really keen to see ourselves. The acoustics were actually really great. I do think that the large, 30″ pendants sort of serve as big sound clouds!

  22. JL says:

    Julia, what a lovely post. I’m so happy that you were able to spend this time with your family and I appreciate the sensitivity that you expressed; understanding that we’re all in different phases of reopening. I would be remiss not to say I believe that consumption of social media shares a responsibility on both sides. As readers, we have to discern when some topics are, understandably, hyper-sensitive for us. It’s okay to bookmark it and come back to it at a later date. For me, this post is a beautiful thing to aspire to, when the time is right.

    Back on topic – Since this first dinner gave you an opportunity to see what worked in the space, how you feel now about the flow from the kitchen to the dining room since moving the sofas? Also, you were so excited after seeing an upholstered chair in the dining room; as a compromise what about the idea of introducing at least some upholstered chairs to the table that compliment the leather ones? Are you open to a mix of chair types at a long table or do you prefer all of the chairs are the same?

    • Julia says:

      The flow was great! I’m glad we moved the sofa forward a bit. :) I’m always open to mixing up the chair situation in the dining room, and am currently on the hunt for some great captain’s chairs, but it’s not a high priority right now.

  23. Alexa says:

    What a beautiful setting for a dinner party. Not surprised that there are so many comments about whether it’s safe to have a gathering of this size. Unfortunately, decisions of Governors have little relation to what public health officials deem to be safe. Even locations that have few cases risk viral spread, so just because something is now “legal” doesn’t mean its a best practice. At the same time, I think we need to be kinder to others who are making different choices about what’s right for their family. We are all in this for the long haul (probably YEARS if we are pinning hopes on a vaccine) and I can understand why some people are chosing to take more risks, aiming to live as opposed to merely survive. I do hope that everyone had a wonderful time and stays healthy.

  24. Megan says:

    Beautiful! It is so lovely that you put on a such a wonderful gathering for your family.

  25. Kelly says:

    Everything looks so lovely!! I feel a little dumb asking this, but how did the place settings work? I always see these beautiful tables ready for a party with multiple layers of dishes stacked up at each place setting, but I don’t quite understand how it works for the actual flow of the dinner party. Did your guests serve salads into their bowls and then set it back down on a stack of plates to eat? I remember reading somewhere once that chargers should be removed before serving the main course and I thought that was such an odd thing to take time to do at a home dinner party. Did the kids have trouble navigating the multiple layers? I have always wondered about this trend and feel safe asking you guys to enlighten me! ????

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      Hi, Kelly! Some of us served ourselves salad in our bowls first, placing them back down on our dinner plates. Some of us put our bowls aside and plated our salads with our dinner. We left the chargers down the entire time, and since all of the food was on the sideboard, there was plenty of real estate on the table to put aside the bowls. Thanks for asking!

  26. Hera says:

    Nice dinner party, Julia. Everything looked beautiful. To the commenter who finds it irresponsible of Julia as an influencer to be encouraging people to gather, please re-read the post. In the first line of the post Julia said, ” Last week, Idaho moved to stage 4 of the reopening which allows gatherings up to 99 people.” Then, the last line of her post said, “but when the time is right where you live, don’t shoot for perfection, go for getting together.” That is a far cry from encouraging people to hurry up and gather in large groups willy-nilly. I think it’s nice she has that many family members and a space to accommodate them. This whole lockdown has not only made people irritable, but hyper critical of everybody. It’s a shame. I wonder if the commenter who said, “the message that you’re sending about gatherings does not seem very responsible, especially given that the overwhelming consensus among epidemiologists and public health experts is that they should be avoided,” piped up when all the large groups of rioters and protesters across the country were gathering together?

    Julia, I loved the table setting, charcuterie boards, and the tips for hosting a dinner party like this. Great job!

    • Danielle says:

      Idaho may be entering stage 4, but Seattle where some of their family came from certainly is not. I would disagree that pointing out potentially dangerous behavior is hyper critical. I would also argue that comparing a dinner party and protests against murder are incongruous.

      I too appreciated all the tips and photos! Focusing on spending time together instead of putting the focus on a perfect party is a great goal.

      • Chris Loves Julia says:

        My sister, who drove in from Seattle, is our brand manager and joined us not only for family time, but also for work. She and her partner quarantined for 14 days prior to their visit and will quarantine for another 14 days when they return home. They also drove here, with limited stops. We’re all doing our best.

    • Lisa says:

      I agree with you. And furthermore, everyone needs to quit criticizing influencers for everything they do. You can always find things to criticize about, but the key is to keep it to yourself and move on. Be kind.

    • Eunie says:

      Are you comparing dinner parties to a First Amendment right to protest? Please, don’t. (And if you consumed more than one source of news, you wouldn’t use riots and protests in the same breath.) Please leave your ideology off this blog- it does not enrich any discussion.

  27. Brittany says:

    Everything looks amazing! I love how you set up the table with the flowers and candlesticks. I always struggle with how to arrange them on a smaller scale (ie for regular 6ft rectangle table would you do 2 plants with the candlesticks in the middle or vise versa?) Have you guys done a post about tablescapes?

  28. julie mcfadden says:

    Im so glad you were able to get together with your family to use this beauty of a room. Could not be more gorgeous !

  29. Ashley W says:

    Hi Julia! Beautiful dinner party! So happy you were all able to get together; we are looking forward to that here eventually but our cases are unfortunately on the rise. Soon enough, though! May I ask how the silverware held up and did? I’ve had my eye on those for a while but can’t pull the trigger because of the low star rating. Curious if they seemed to hold up well for the first dinner party or if you felt like you had to be more careful with them? Thanks!

    • Aminah says:

      Yes I would love to know more about those, too! I have yet to find a gold silverware that doesn’t have reviews of people mentioning that the finish starts coming off after a short while. I don’t mind handwashing in order to keep my silverware nice but I would feel terribly disappointed if the finish came off after spending so much for them. Anyone have any experience with this?

      • Julia says:

        We’ve only used these TWICE so I’ll have to keep you posted on that. The first time I hand washed them and this time I put them in the dishwasher. But hand washing is recommended I think. I like filling the sink with shallow soapy water and swishing them around for a bit!

  30. Kara says:

    I find this post to be really upsetting. I know that Idaho may be in a different phase of reopening. But so many of us are still in a real fear of putting ourselves or our loved ones at risk. We have been unable to see our family, unable for my parents to see their 8-month-old grandson, unable to attend funerals of close loved ones, unable to vacation and unable to celebrate together as we always have. I look at the idea of sending out cute invitations, and I really cannot even envision when I will be able to invite my loved ones into my home again. I do enjoy looking at your site, generally as a way to escape from some of these hard things and get inspiration for our home. I would never expect you to be my guide for public health information or a model of what I should be doing. But I think you guys really missed the mark with this post. I am very happy for you that your family can safely gather together, but I would hope in the future you might think a bit more about your audience and what gatherings will really look like for many of us for the next year.

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      Hi, Kara. Our hearts go out to you and the many others in parts of the world where it’s not safe to gather. We’re wishing you good health and hoping a long-awaited family reunion is possible for you soon.

  31. Sharon says:

    I love everything about this post. I’m so happy you were able to host in your dining room, I appreciate your sweet and genuine gratitude for family, I love your fancy touches like invitations, fancy dress, and a photographer, and I love that you had – and used the word – snacktivity. You guys worked so hard on your dining room and I am so happy for you guys!

  32. Patricia says:

    We definitely need some “Chris Cooks” videos and posts from this! It looked like a warm and friendly family time and a yummy dinner.

    • Alex says:

      Agree, especially the beef tenderloin. I have been intimidated to make this but would love to try!

      • Mary says:

        Yes, the dinner looked yummy (and the whole dinner party seemed lovely). Mostly, I’m wanting to know where you can by decent tenderloin – enough to serve 20 – AND all the other food for $150! In Chicago I’d have to budget $200 for the meat alone ????. Loved how everything was simple, yet elegant!

  33. Meghan says:

    While I think it’s genuinely great that your family was able to get together, I find it irresponsible (in your role as an influencer) to be encouraging people to gather, whether in groups big or small. Though this will be read by some as a political issue, for me is a public health matter. Looking at the maps and numbers, Idaho has had a very small number of cases, so it seems like it would be relatively safe for your family to gather, even in larger numbers. But that is not the case for all or most of the country or the world, and your readers no doubt hail from many different states and countries. Gatherings like a dinner party (and even more so when they are indoors) are precisely the kind of event that spreads this virus. The virus is not gone, and will not be for quite a while, and though life certainly has to move on in some way, I think that you are sending the wrong message by normalizing and encouraging gatherings. Again, I’m not criticizing you for gathering–what you decide to do with your family in the context of your particular area’s outbreak (or lack thereof) is your decision. But what you publish on your blog, in your newsletter, and on Instagram does have an influence on others, and the message that you’re sending about gatherings does not seem very responsible, especially given that the overwhelming consensus among epidemiologists and public health experts is that they should be avoided.

    • Jill says:

      She stated that she is following the rules where she lives in the opening sentence. I hope I’m not judged for following the guidelines my Governor has ordered when I have friends over (gatherings of 10 or less in Minnesota) this weekend. I don’t think I would be able to handle the constant barrage of negativity that comes with being an influencer. I appreciated this post and seeing that incredible space come to life with loved ones was so fun!

    • Jessica says:

      The Marcums, like many others in the world, are now out of strict lockdown. No rules were broken and with Julia’s health they wouldn’t take risks.
      This is a disease that will be with us for years. We will likely have to lockdown many times, all at different stages around the world.
      Let them enjoy it and enjoy it yourself when you can.
      Loved seeing this from my current lockdown situation. Gives me hope for when I can see my own family and what we can do. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jennifer Johnson says:

      Julia made it very clear at the outset of her post that her state is allowing for groups of up to 99 given their current cases. I think the rest of us are smart enough to know what the requirements are for our states and protect our families and communities. Just because I see Julia setting a beautiful table and hosting a lovely gathering doesn’t mean that I’m going to do the same right now if it’s not responsible to do in the circumstances specific to my area. I’m capable of figuring that out for myself, regardless of what influencers are doing.

      With that being said, Julia I loved everything about this post! It was warm and lovely and satisfying to see after all your hard work on your recent home renovations!

    • Celia says:

      I usually don’t comment, but I wanted to just say I respectfully disagree with this. I don’t think CLJ is encouraging gatherings, as they write in the very opening paragraph that Idaho is in phase 4 reopening and their dinner party was well within their state’s public health policies. I think CLJ were very respectful and empathetic in acknowledging their situation might be unique. COVID has affected different areas of the world to such different degrees, that it would be a bare minimum expectation for readers to be cognizant, responsible, and follow their local area’s guidelines.

      I’m a front line healthcare worker based in my hospital’s respiratory isolation unit (“Covid unit”) so am well aware of the implications of this virus. My area is in phase 2 reopening, and is only permitting small gatherings at this time. I read this with hope and some escapism, it’s wonderful seeing people in places where life has returned to a small modicum of “normal”. Also beautiful photos and some great tips too.

    • Dian says:

      Yeah…I got a little uncomfortable reading this. I get that as a blogger Julia balances the life she wants to live but also sharing content that makes sense for readers. If she made this article about purely sharing photos of the party, I would say, lovely party, moving on. But she mixes in advice about throwing a party, so I read it as also practical content for readers. So while Idaho is permitting large gatherings and her area has very few cases, large indoor gatherings aren’t really safe right now for a lot of readers. As a reader, I’m always looking for useful tidbits so perhaps an article on outdoor gatherings would be more my jam right now.

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

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What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

It’s been over a year since we started designing our bathroom. We were working with Unique Kitchens and Baths for the cabinetry, and they came up with two different layouts. We selected one, tweaked it a bit and chose a lot of the finishes…annnnnd honestly we could never quite give the final “go ahead.” This […]

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Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations