Mama Smith’s Surprise Birthday Party: Southern Citrus

A Florida Affair

For this occasion, we had to pay homage to our Florida roots. What better way to do that than by throwing a Florida citrus party!? As you (hopefully!) already know, the name Mercer + Smith Events was inspired by our shared Southern heritage. Going back to our grandmother’s generations, and generations before theirs, our families enjoyed Old Florida as their home. As a refresher, “Mercer” is Calla’s Grandmom’s maiden name and “Smith” is Jackie’s Mama’s last name. Mama Smith is not only half of our namesake, she played a major role in our meeting when we were both attending Flagler College. Without her, it’s safe to say we would not be here chasing our dreams and planning parties together. When her milestone 85th birthday came along, we had to give her what she deserves – a Southern citrus-filled surprise party full of her closest family and friends.

Mama Smith has been a Gainesville resident since they built their house in 1972. Her yard is full of citrus trees along with tons of flowers including award-winning camellias that were grafted and grown by Papa Smith. I grew up there and refer to her house as my childhood home. Mama Smith’s yard is a special little heaven right in the heart of Gainesville. We wanted to incorporate as much of the flowers and citrus into this party as possible. From the invitations to the party favors, we made sure oranges were everywhere! (The camellia’s will have to make an appearance at our next party during the cold weather months when they’re in season.)

Floridian Florals

If you know Mama, you know she is colorful so we were all about vibrant hues for these arrangements. We personally selected each bloom like we do for each party for our clients. Mama’s surprise party flowers included soft yellow carnations, violet statice, and white brompton stock. We choose a stand-out flower for every party. This time we used the most beautiful pink peonies we’ve ever seen! For a special twist, we mixed in grapefruits as a base for the smaller arrangements. These little citrus arrangements accented the custom signage scattered around the party. For the larger flower arrangements, we used a mix of mason jars and antique glass bottles. These went perfectly with the Old Florida feel we were trying to attain for this party.

A Sweet Parting Gift

We also had more baby’s breath than we knew what to do with. It went EVERYWHERE – from the photo backdrop to the welcome sign to the basket full of party favors. Each guest took home a fresh orange wrapped in tissue paper with a hand-stamped tag all tied together with a pretty green and white baker’s twine. With 40 guests, we had a LOT of oranges to find for party favors! To have a more authentic Florida feel, the oranges were sourced from every produce stand located along my route from St. Augustine to Gainesville. The seemingly quick errand of “picking up oranges” turned into an amazing little tour of farm stands that I highly recommend to anyone traveling through North Central Florida to the East coast!

Photo Op Backdrop!

Let’s talk about this fabulous photo backdrop. We are currently in love with large balloon garlands. We’re always ready to jump at the opportunity to incorporate one into whatever party we’re working on. The only thing we don’t like about them is having to take them apart or leaving them behind with our client to enjoy after the party’s over! For this one, we chose a mix of clear, white pearl, and yellow balloons to keep it super fresh and bright. The yellow balloons were the perfect hue to mimic a Florida Lemon. Our large over sized balloons were a statement maker. A backdrop like this deserves to be a focal point of the party so we placed it right at the entrance to greet guests as they arrived.

This is one of our favorite events ever because it honored such a special person. Not only was it a beautiful party, the theme matched perfectly with our sunny guest of honor. The cherry on top (or orange, rather) is that it made Mama smile from ear to ear the entire day through.

Best response we’ve ever received after throwing a party:

“If I could have planned the perfect day, this would have been it.”

– Mama Smith