Entertaining guru Natasha Lawler’s St. Patrick’s Day parties are so fabulous that she has friends fly across the country to be in attendance. We were honored to be a part of her Irish festivities a few years ago when Dogwood Hill artist Gina Langford, also a personal friend of Natasha’s, helped design the party’s invitations, signage, and menus. The invitations and coordinating items can be found on our website here.
Read on for the personal significance this holiday holds for the Lawler family and for all of the lovely green details that Natasha uses for her lucky party guests.
“My husband Nick is Irish Catholic from Boston and I am also Irish Catholic and went to Notre Dame, so Saint Patrick’s was always a big holiday for both of us. When we got married, we decided to make it an annual tradition. [This] was our seventh annual party! Our first time celebrating was actually when we lived in Hong Kong. So many of our friends there were Chinese or international and they were so generous in sharing all of their cultural traditions with us, and we wanted to reciprocate. So we landed on the idea of corned beef and cabbage which they had never even heard of!
Now that we live in the small town of Charlottesville, we love having a formal excuse to invite everyone we know in town to join us in traditional Irish fare and festivities. A few of my college friends from Notre Dame even make the trip from all over the country each year, so it’s a very full house. The tour de force of the evening is my corned beef, which I brine myself three weeks before Saint Patrick’s Day, turning it every day. [For the party] I did 60 pounds of beef, all from our local butcher JM Stock Provisions, and it took up my entire basement refrigerator.
My Irish cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen are also a menu item I do every year. I make the cookies and cupcakes well ahead and freeze them to frost the day before. The cupcakes have Guinness beer, and they are filled with an Irish whiskey ganache and then topped with a Bailey’s and cream cheese frosting. We are so committed to this holiday that we even got a keg, so we could serve Guinness with nitrogen on tap. It’s pretty funny because we live on Rugby Road, just up from all the University of Virginia fraternity houses, but I think our celebration is a little more formal than the average frat party!
[This] party was extremely special because my two friends from church Gina Langford and Calligrapher Jodi Macfarlan did all the invitations partnering with Dogwood Hill, as well as the menus and signage. Of all the years doing this party, [these] invitations were my favorite! They are both so talented, and really captured the beauty of all the symbols behind this celebration.
Each year I try to make things a little different and mix in a few fun surprises as a lot of the guests attend every year and I want to keep it exciting! I loved that we used a punchy chartreuse green which really livened up all the decor. Live music is always a component in one form or another. We have had bagpipers, Irish step dancers and various Irish musicians. We love this day and the Saint it honors so much we even named our second son Patrick!”
Invitations, cocktail napkin designs and framed crests: Dogwood Hill Artist Gina Langford with Custom Calligraphy by Jodi Macfarlan | Flowers: Tourtourelle | Food and Dessert: Natasha Lawler | Rentals: Festive Fare | Photography: Andrea Hubbell