Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Find: Happy Birthday Dolly!

Today is Dolly Parton's birthday. And if I could spend one day with a famous person, well, it would definitely be Dolly. I'm inspired by her rags-to-riches story, her acute business sense and her true entertainer's love for making people happy.

A couple of years ago, I threw a party I called Dolly-Rama to celebrate the release of Dolly's "Backwoods Barbie" album. I was just starting the editing process of my book The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details and was primed with ideas for throwing a get-together that would make my muse proud.

I wanted a distinctive tabletop, so I first tapped into the 1970s and found a heartwarming motif in Dolly’s song, “Coat of Many Colors.” My mom and I started out by gathering scraps of pastel gingham and butterfly prints, cutting them out in randomly sized squares and sewing them together for what resulted in our “Tablecloth of Many Colors,” paying homage to Dolly’s classic.

From there, everything else seemed to fall in place. Three vintage gold-trimmed pieces of china I bought for a few dollars at Lutecia Clementine’s in Independence, Missouri, easily mixed into my own white dining plates for a touch of Grandma chic.

I further expanded on the homespun tabletop with an old metal picnic basket I found at a thrift store in Memphis. I loaded it up with fried chicken and corn pone, which is something I’d never tasted before but found the recipe in the Dollywood cookbook. I found mix-and-match napkins for a few dollars at Housing Works in New York and at Kansas City’s River Market Antique Mall. Some already had butterflies on them, but for the one’s that didn’t, I ironed on appliqués of the fluttery creatures.

For unique decorations, I rummaged through my own collection of Dolly souvenirs that has consistently grown over the years. The large cutout standing behind the table came from one of Dolly's book promotion. I keep it stashed behind the headboard in my bedroom to make a surprise appearance when people gather in my home. The small cutout above the table is another promotion from the early ‘80s touting Dolly’s album, "Nine To Five…And Odd Jobs."

I also made a Dolly-Rama banner that I decorated with appliqué butterflies and stick-on rhinestones. I hung it from the ceiling above my buffet table. And for party favors, I made a playlist of my favorite Dolly songs, burned them to a CD, and offered them to departing guests.

We sang Dolly songs, drank “Jolenes” (a shaken concoction of RC Cola, Vodka and a splash of lemonade), and nibbled pink, butterfly-decorated cupcakes and sugar cookies until the wee hours of the morning. The only thing missing was our singing diva in the flesh. But I think she was there... at least in spirit.

Happy birthday, Dolly!

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous


  1. What a seriously fun party!! And isn't it awesome when things just seem to 'fall together'? And finally, the fact that Dolly is behind your headboard is cracking me UP!!

  2. Ok Stan I'm with Sonya, Dolly behind your headboard has given me some visuals that are cracking me up! Love the party and such a great theme Coat of Many Colors! OK, I'm still seeing Dolly peeking around that headboard of yours!

  3. Happy Birthday, Dolly! Who doesn't love a curvy Capricorn?

    Stan, that party must have been so much fun! What a treat for the eyes and tastebuds. I think you should do an elegant thrifter entertaining book next!


  4. How Fun! Dont yhou love it when stuff just works out like that! If they were in season you should have put magnolias all around the room! Fantstic party idea, and what a great album. When We finally meet, remind me to tell you about the "9 to 5 roof incident"... haha

  5. Stan! What a touching tribute! I am sure Miss Dolly would be thrilled to know she has a fan as elegant as you.

    I wish I could have had a seat at that party, it looks like it was divine fun and the talk of the year. I love the theme for your tablecloth, how creative, but that just goes to show why you are The Elegant Thrifter.

  6. Nice! One of my all time favorite movies is Nine to Five. The song is good too! What a fun party theme!

  7. That's the first time I've heard of such a party. I love your creative side!



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