Shirlene Elkins is the quintessential hostess, having planned parties in her career, as well as gatherings large and small for her friends and charities.
Before coming to Naples and putting her considerable talents to work for area charities, Elkins was the principal of a catering company in the Washington, D.C., area for 12 years. She was one of the first chairwomen in 2004 of the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
She knows that the details make an event special, even one as simple as a ladies’ birthday lunch.
Sea Salt restaurant was selected for a small gathering of 18 friends for Retta Singer’s birthday celebration. Elkins knew she could tailor a menu with her friend, Chef Fabrizio Aielli, as well as bring her own personal touches to the decor.
To make the table elegant, she used her blue, orange and gold Versace chargers, paired with blue water glasses and simple vases with single stems of orange and pink gerbera daisies of various heights.
On the gift and cake table, Elkins used large, multicolored paper lanterns to tie the side table with the central table, and include Singer’s favorite color, pink. Emily Duncan, the pastry chef at Ridgway Bar & Grill and Tony’s Off Third, created a multi-tiered cake decorated in Singer’s favorite hue.
Wineglass tags at each place setting were created by That’s Mine from a picture of Retta Singer taken in Mississippi (where she grew up) and personalized with each guest’s name.
The party plan was simple. Cocktails with pizza hors d’oeuvres to allow the guests, all from various areas of Singer’s life—neighbors, travel companions and friends of friends—to get to know each other. Before lunch, guests introduced themselves and told their story of how they knew the guest of honor. Then Singer opened her gifts and lunch was served.
The theme was simple, but warm and friendly. A small group stayed at the stylish bar at Sea Salt after lunch to continue the festivities.