Mad Love at Hotel Hanford


Tis the season of romance. Since I am about to pop, this year is especially crucial for me and my husband. We are loving this “babymoon” phase and trying to soak it all in. Keeping with the Valentines theme we thought it was the perfect time to host a dinner party. I thoroughly enjoy having people over to our house but since we are new to the area we wanted to explore some fun venues. I wanted to break the routine and find a way to make this little gathering feel unique. So the search began. I had noticed Hotel Hanford’s recent retro renovation and thought it might be just the place for a glamourous Valentine’s party. Little did I know they have the perfect dining area, which is attached to a lounge. It was just what I was looking for. Private. Fancy. And most importantly, tasty.

Soon my creative juices were flowing. I wanted to match the hotels retro feel so we went for a “Mad Love” theme. We asked our guests to wear cocktail attire in preparation for the occasion.  My goal with all of my events is to keep the decor under $100. With all of the DIY tutorials online it is relatively easy to create a flashy party on a budget. I got to work brainstorming the look of my party. My first step? Pinterest. You can see my Valentines board with inspiration here.

I found a few Mad Men posters and used them as inspiration for the invitations. I designed them on my computer using Adobe. You can also use the free version to design invites, found here. I printed them on 5×7 cards from my own computer. As I was running my party errands I found 50 cent glittery paper and glued the printouts on them to make more of a statement.. The invitations were sent and the party was on.

Next up, the “wow” factor. Over the years I have learned that you must have one focal point at each party. As I searched for inspiration I fell in love with the trendy shimmer and glam of sequins and streamers. It is everywhere, from floral arrangements to photo booths and even clothing. I searched for more tutorials and found several with streamers, but had a hard time finding the right one. Silly me, I forgot to look for a pre made background. As much as I love doing it myself – finding it in a package is even better. I found this 3 foot shimmery “door,” as the package called it, at Party City in Irvine. It was $8.50 and I bought three. I used two of them to create a backdrop for the ever popular photo booth.  You don’t need an expensive camera to take the pictures, just a point and shoot or even your camera phone will work if you’re in a bind.  They are an easy way to add a statement to any party, big or small, and it’s a great ice breaker to get your guests involved.  With that, my focal point was complete.

You can print off free photo booth props here. I simply hot glued the props to kabob skewers that I had on hand in my kitchen.

These 36 inch balloons are $5 at Party City and are a simple way to add a pop to any party.  I bought the third shimmery door in a different color to match the balloons and to give them a more dramatic look.  Since I wanted everything to scream glam, I had to find a way to make the balloons sparkle.  I bought inexpensive crepe paper streamers at Where’s the Party in Costa Mesa.  I cut the streamers in half and stapled them together with three inch pieces of the hanging door.  It was messy – and not a perfect project. Lots of staples – but it worked. My motto – parties don’t need to be perfect, just pretty. The day of the party I took my stapled creations to Party City and they gladly attached them to the giant balloons, also using a stapler. Love that tool.

I had already checked out my venue and knew that hanging above the table was a giant chandelier. My table definitely didn’t need any height. The table runner needed to be simple, yet sparkly. I purchased three (odd numbers are always best) gold papers from Michael’s to use as a runner. Picked up a dozen roses from Costco for $15 and trimmed them to fit in an old mason jar. I cut a piece of the gold paper off and put it in the jar to add a little shimmer and hide the stems. Flowers are ok for a few hours without water during your event.


I asked the chef to prepare the same dishes for all of our guests.  He was even willing to email me the menu before hand so I could recreate them to match the theme and put at each table setting.  With so many courses being served they were a key factor in building the anticipation for our guests.  Another hosting tip is don’t let your friends go home empty handed.  In addition to sending out the photos, I wanted them to take home a little something to remember the evening.  I found $2 take out boxes at Where’s the Party.  I wrapped and hot glued them with a little gold streamer from my door decor, then stuffed them full of my favorite candies.

(Beausoliel Oysters and Burrata-Citrus ‘Caprese’)

The best part about having a dinner party at a venue is that you don’t have to worry about the food. I knew Hotel Hanford had the perfect look for my event, but wasn’t expecting much out of “hotel food.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Savoy, the restaurant at Hotel Hanford is a stand alone, must try restaurant. The surprise of the evening was the absolutely delectable food. All eight of our guests were blown away. At the hotel they serve up all natural, mostly local food. The chef served us 7 different dishes. My husband’s favorite was the Seared Scallop with the crunchy topping. My favorite was the hand made Pappardelle with the perfect cheese and tasty quail egg. And of course, many of the boys loved the Duroc Pork ‘Duo.’ The meat literally melted in your mouth. Needless to say all of our guests are headed back to Savoy. Their Valentines menu looks incredible. It is sure to be the next foodie spot.

(Seared Scallop and Pappardelle)

(Duroc Pork ‘Duo’)

(Angel Food Cake and Lemon-Chocolate Crunch Tart)

To top it off I had my sweet husband plan a social mixer game. He came up with 15 newlywed questions. When we were first married a good friend gave us a great piece of advice about dinner parties, separate the couples. When we started the game all of the men rotated seats. It really kicked off the party and helped get the conversation going. It was an excellent way for us all to get a little peak into each couples “Mad Love.” Although it may feel strange to split up couples, it was definitely a success.

All in all, you could say the party was a “mad hit.”

If you’d like to host a party with Karly get in touch with her at Good Cheer.

To plan an event at Hotel Hanford contact Heather Morgan at

Be Sociable, Share!