Spark Joy and Give Thanks: Our Annual Favorite Things Party

We’re already in the middle of February, and I can hardly believe it’s been six weeks since I wrote down goals for the year and started thinking about what I wanted 2019 to look like. I chose a word, and my word was DYNAMIC, which I still love because dynamic means change and change is always fun. There’s always something new to tackle. But change can also be scary because there’s lots of unexpected stuff that happens too. And in the midst of all that uncertainty, sometimes the only thing you can do is choose joy.

Joy is a bit of a buzz word these days.

We are seeing it everywhere. Netflix has a new show called Tidying Up where clients are encouraged to keep the things that spark joy and discard the things that don’t. (We’ve been trying this out in our house, and so far, I’m loving it!)

But I’m noticing the word is popping up in all kinds of unexpected places.

And I love it because let’s be honest—who doesn’t want more joy in their life?

One of the ways my friends and I celebrate joy is through our annual Favorite Things Party. While “gifts” are definitely my love language, it isn’t just the gifts that make the Favorite Things Party my favorite party of the year.

It’s the friendships and the memories we’re creating together. Three of my best friends and I got together last weekend for our party. We always plan it far in advance because if we didn’t, this little thing called life would hijack all our plans and make it nearly impossible to meet up at all. But despite sickness and scheduled sports, we forged ahead and made our night happen. And it was worth every minute.

This year, we stayed overnight at a boutique hotel less than an hour from our house. We had appetizers and then headed to a cooking class where we made homemade pasta and chocolate truffles and a salad filled with vegetables cut by mandoline (something we’re all scared to use), and then we all exchanged presents and stayed up too late. It was like a sleepover but without the ghost stories and the junk food and frozen bras.

I came home with all kinds of wonderful things: a silk pillowcase, new rainbow-colored resin earrings, some pink wool sneakers from Cole Hahn, a crepe pan and mix, a jar of Jif chocolate cheesecake spread, the perfect pink Mac lipstick, some awesome jammies from Anthropologie (which you’ll probably see me wearing around town), a Sugarboo book of quotes about being an Exquisite lady, a lovely box of chocolates, new pens, and some Caldrea countertop spray that smells Ahh-mazing. (And if you know me at all, you know countertops are the one thing in my house that I like to clean religiously.)

Here’s some photos from this year’s party:

This one is of us and our chef. He had an awesome Georgia accent, and I think we were his favorite students. (It was Date Night: Italy, and everyone else in the class was with their sweetheart. We made lots of “That’s what she said” jokes, but I’m not sure if anyone else but us found them funny.

This one is of us and our chef. He had an awesome Georgia accent, and I think we were his favorite students. (It was Date Night: Italy, and everyone else in the class was with their sweetheart. We made lots of “That’s what she said” jokes, but I’m not sure if anyone else but us found them funny.

Nicole, Allie, Ginny, and me. We realized tonight that this was our SIXTH year together celebrating our favorite things and our favorite people!

Nicole, Allie, Ginny, and me. We realized tonight that this was our SIXTH year together celebrating our favorite things and our favorite people!

Nicole and Allie—Here these two are making ravioli sheets. They’re pretty much professional chefs now.

Nicole and Allie—Here these two are making ravioli sheets. They’re pretty much professional chefs now.

Here I am getting my hands messy in the pasta dough while Ginny calmly drinks a tiny cup of coffee. Don’t worry—we put her to work later!

Here I am getting my hands messy in the pasta dough while Ginny calmly drinks a tiny cup of coffee. Don’t worry—we put her to work later!

And here’s the haul! In some ways, I love Favorite Things more than Christmas. I spend all year thinking about all the wonderful things I love and want to give away to my friends. Counting down the weeks until the next party. I’m already making my list. Until next year….

And here’s the haul! In some ways, I love Favorite Things more than Christmas. I spend all year thinking about all the wonderful things I love and want to give away to my friends. Counting down the weeks until the next party. I’m already making my list. Until next year….

I don’t have to look very far to find joy.

I have a friend who is an interior designer. She wants to create spaces that spark joy.

And I have another friend who stays home with her kids but she loves to create experiences that spark joy.

I know a musician who writes music to refresh your spirit and bring more joy.

Joy is everywhere.

But joy is not the same as happiness.

My friend, Melanie, says that the difference between happiness and joy is that joy hurts. She’s right. Sometimes joy does hurt. But my favorite is when my soul is filled with so much joy it’s fit to bursting because it’s so full of love and happiness and gratitude for the relationships and opportunities I’ve been given.

If you want more joy, practicing more gratitude is a great place to start. Think about the things you’re grateful for and then think about how can you leverage those things to create lasting memories. Today, I’m grateful for friendship, for even when I feel like time is flying and maybe I haven’t done all the things I wanted to this year, I’ve had these joyful moments that mattered with the people I love. We made time and space for each other in the middle of what would normally be a crazy time of year.

The lesson? To spark joy is a valid goal. And you don’t even have to tidy up to get that loving feeling. Maybe you don’t even have to plan a Favorite Things Party.

But I promise this is one party you’ll want to repeat year in and year out.

How will you create more joy this year?