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Lyfe Thinking Out Loud

Create Your Occasion

Somestimes, you just have to create your own occasion! This weekend, we traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for a fabulous formal cocktail party!

How often do you look at the nice clothes in your closet, the fancy china in your cabinet, and think to yourself: I should use this more often? 

Create your Occasion! Life is too short to pass by opportunities for connection and indulging in little luxuries. @Suzlyfe

When I was growing up, once a year, we would get out the fine china and eat a fancy meal (Christmas, usually).  When Alex and I got married, I remember picking out our fine china and insisting that it be dishwasher safe, to encourage us to use it. I had grandiose dreams of using our fine china once a month (I’ve since gotten more realistic). But I did insist that we use it for our Valentine’s Day meal, we use it at Thanksgiving, and we’ve used it here and there at other times over the years. 

I am a comfy person. My wardrobe consists of workout clothes, jeans, and thermals during the winter, and workout clothes, shorts, and t-shirts during the summer (with the odd maxi dress). I don’t wear much makeup. I have a closetful of nice clothes that I never wear–the remaining dregs of my “office dreams.” I always respect people who put effort into their appearance beyond mascara, but that hasn’t been me for a long time.

And yet, I can’t get rid of my pretty dresses. My blazers. My fancy shoes. There is a part of me that believes that one day I will use them again. Part of me that wants to get fancy (or, my version of fancy). To put on my own fine china. To make life a special occasion, somehow.

I loved what this weekend’s February Formal represented, what it accomplished:

All dressed up for the formal cocktail party! @suzlyfe

We got up early, got our run in, then packed up our car, picked up two cousins, and drove the 2+ hours to Madison for a party that easily could have been accomplished in casual style, with jeans and sweaters, with a few platters of food and with everyone bringing in a bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer. That could have revolved around a sporting event.

Instead, it was an event that necessitated action: put on your fancy dress and heels, your suit and jacket. Look others in the eyes and have a conversation. 

I often feel like I lock up within myself at parties. But I felt free, and it wasn’t just booze or anonymity, or the excellent company (which truly was excellent). Often, formal parties feel so stuffy and stilted that you almost feel like you can’t engage and expose yourself, nor do you want to; instead, this party nurtured connection based on its scale, and also the depth of detail our cousins went into. 

They created all of the food–from the roasted veggie skewers to the chocolate shortbread layer cake to the shrimp to the charcuterie plate. They hired a bartender (who happened to be someone they knew and had worked with during his schooling (not in mixology, but in science), but they created the drinks. 

They held a fancy cocktail party, with fancy drinkware, serving dishes, and crafted cocktails, in their cozy bungalow living room, with paper party plates. 

Formality, with a sense of humor and a touch of real life. Suspension of time with a healthy dose of reality.

The crafted cocktails at the February Formal cocktail party! The Vieux Carre was my favorite! @suzlyfe 

Did I mention that they, as a family, are as casual as Alex and I? That their “perfect vacation” is one where 75% of it is spent outdoors being active? 

You guys know that I’m all in favor of taking matters into your own hands. I’m a big believer that you have to empower yourself, you have to be in the driver’s seat. Sometimes, you have to create your occasion. 

I dare you to create your own occasion like @suzlyfe! #sweatpink Click To Tweet

Put on real clothes and eat off your fancy china for the night. Better yet, invite a few friends over, and ask that they do the same. If you aren’t the best cook, maybe ask that they bring a dish. Keep the TV off and find a way to actually connect with your friends, your neighbors, again. It doesn’t take much, it doesn’t have to cost much. But if you were to do it once, twice a year… 

What difference could creating your occasion make?

When was the last non-holiday or wedding time that you used your fine china, or got really dressed up?

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking out Loud!

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  • Reply Hollie

    This is a great post Suz! Sometimes we don’t need a special time to celebrate but it feels good to do so. My husband and I love trying to go out 1-2 times per month. It’s great to just get fancy and have a date night.

    February 21, 2017 at 5:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hear you there. We go out, and we do date night, but we need to put more thought into it.

      February 24, 2017 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    I also live in comfortable clothes and don’t get dressed up very often. Once in awhile its nice to get dressed up and do something different!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Three Running WishesMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 5:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It really is fun!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:49 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    Preaching to the choir here. I have so many lovely clothes but as I mentioned to Rock the other day, I end up working jobs that require athletic clothing. He says that’s a great thing. We have two sets of china and a ton of crystal and we make a point to host at least once a month. Sometimes it is fun fancy dinners or cocktail parties and sometimes it is just a family dinner. But either way we pull out all the good stuff and make a real shin dig out of it.
    Sarah recently posted…Sun’s Out, Run’s OutMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 5:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Two sets of china? Yeah, you gotta put that o use! I love that you do that!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm
  • Reply Madhuri

    Agreed1 Just decking up a bit can change our attitude for the day a lot. My work attire is pretty casual (#scientistlife). But, on days I spruce up, there’s an instant boost in self-confidence, which translates into productivity.
    Madhuri recently posted…Dear Half-Marathoner (#002)My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 6:12 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I totally agree! It is like the makeup bump!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm
  • Reply jennifer

    I love this one Susie! xoxo
    jennifer recently posted…Paleo Kung “Power” Chicken with Medjool DatesMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 6:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Jen!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm
  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    Yes, I definitely agree with you on this. Plus, it’s fun to do something against the usual! As someone who wears office clothes Monday-Friday, I’d definitely say I want to dress down by the weekends. Maybe I could go for a casual party haha!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Recent Netflix FindsMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 6:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It’s like alter ego day!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm
  • Reply Jessica Marie @ FlashFit Trainer

    Hey, you were in my state, cool! And with the unseasonably warm weather, it probably helped the whole vibe. Hubby and I used to have a wine and cheese party once a year in February because WI winters are such a drag, it was something to look forward to! I wrote a post about “saving things for later” on Kind Over Matter with a similar thread running through it about all the things that I “save for later” and never seem to actually use. EVERY day is worth celebrating and using the china!

    February 21, 2017 at 7:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yes! Omg you guys are of the same mind, and Now I am copying you. I love that idea for a post!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    Such good inspiration! I totally agree that life is too short to put off doing special things like this! You guys look gorgeous!
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…5 Healthy Swaps that Will Transform Your Eating {Video}My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 7:12 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thanks lovely! I bet you throw the best impromptu occassions!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Most of my wardrobe is comfy, and vacations usually involve the outdoors. It is fun to get dressed up from time to time and use the fancy stemware!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Lake Sammamish Half 2017 Week 7My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 7:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It’s like alter ego time!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    I am all about being comfy! I don’t even dress up too much for work–it’s definitely business casual. We take out the china for Christmas and Easter.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…If You Give a Runner a Genie…My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 7:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m the same way–but I don’t even have to wear “real clothes” to work!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Jamie

    oooohhhhh I love this idea. I’m doing this. Our china is currently in the attic, so it’s going to take some digging, but I’m buying fancy (non-Costco) wine and doing it up right. I might even wear heels!
    Jamie recently posted…Tricks of the (Special Needs) TradeMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 7:27 am
    • Reply suzlyfe


      February 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday

    I’m usually a comfy-plus-makeup person, but I do love me a special occasion. My birthday is usually celebrated at my parents’ house, with catered barbecue and lots of lying on the floor watching March Madness, but this year we’re renting a room from a fancy restaurant and having a nice dinner/cocktail hour. 😀
    Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…A Lot of Words on Finally Gaining WeightMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 7:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I want pictures! Slash I want to come.

      February 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    Oooooh, I LOVE THIS! Totally right up my alley. I have a pair of black leather strappy heels that I’ve only worn once, and a super cute bright red slinky dress to wear with it. I need to make an occasion, STAT!
    Suzy recently posted…Week in ReviewMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 7:48 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      um YEAH you do 😀

      February 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    We definitely do not use our china and fancy stuff enough mostly because it all has to be hand washed and then put away. I’m all for making your own special occasion nights-that’s what creates happiness and feelings of love
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Vegetable Enchilada Soup-Meatless MondayMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 8:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Get out that fancy stuff this weekend!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    Sounds like a blast. We didn’t get any china when we got married, although we did inherit a bunch from my inlaws that is in a box somewhere in our storage room.
    Michelle recently posted…He’s home!!My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 8:11 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Do you like it? or is it meh

      February 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm
  • Reply Gretchen

    I don’t even have good china haha!! All of our plates are from Walmart. I do get what you’re saying though and Dan and I love to get dressed up once in a while and taking on the town. Maybe I’ll plan a fancy night in sometime 🙂
    Gretchen recently posted…Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 11My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 8:14 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, Walmart can be fancy!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm
  • Reply Emily

    YES! I so agree that creating different happy occasions for the family is such a blessing; I have a few nice, fun dresses, and I do enjoy getting dressed in them to go out to dinner. It’s not my personality most of the time to be really fancy, but our family loves to do fancy/quiet dinners every so often. We always eat dinner together which is kind of like an occasion too!
    Emily recently posted…How To Deal With Comparison at The Gym (Kat’s Story)My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 8:59 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I am totally going to declare family dinners a thing for the rest of our marriage (which I hope is VERY long). We’ve already discussed ti!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm
  • Reply Marcia

    Do people even register for formal china anymore? The last several weddings I went to they did not, and I feel like that’s a shame. My china requires hand washing because I didn’t think it through, and yeah it tends to come out on Thanksgiving. But you’re right. It’s nice to “make an effort” sometimes. A handwritten note, taking the time to see/entertain friends, etc. All/lots of that stuff falls by the wayside and I wish it wouldn’t. It’s great to feel special because we are!

    February 21, 2017 at 9:11 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We totally did. But we didn’t do silver. Also, my aunts immediately asked about our “patterns”

      February 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm
  • Reply Ange // Cowgirl Runs

    I love the idea of creating your own occasion.
    I’ve started opening up my fancy wine “just because”. Why hang on to it for basically no reason? I’d much rather open it and enjoy it.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Weekend Recap – Garth BrooksMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 12:10 pm
  • Reply Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine

    Love it.
    We recently got all dressed up to go out on Valentine’s Day to…Waffle House. LOL.
    We’re mostly comfy, casual people too, but every now and then we try to go out somewhere actually fancy or treat ourselves to a $15 bottle of wine. Love this reminder!
    Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine recently posted…Mint Chocolate Energy BitesMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hear you there!$15 wine and nachos…in fancy clothes!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm
  • Reply Mary

    I like the idea of creating your own occasion. I wrote an article about creating your own fairytale and it got great reviews. I think we forget we are masters of our destiny. Last weekend the boyfriend and I went to LA to celebrate Valentine’s day. I felt like a kid playing hooky from school it felt dangerous and fun and exciting. Any excuse to dress up I’m usually going to take it. Your wedding china is beautiful. Sounds like you guys had a great time and looked great while doing it. I love dressing up with my significant other.

    February 21, 2017 at 1:55 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are right! It totally does feel dangerous! I love that! And thank you!!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm
  • Reply Cora

    Special occasions are really that… Special. Even if it is simply using the fine China one night, they take us out of our normal everyday “blazah” and – I think – are a way of reminding ourselves that we are worth a little special attention once and a while. It’s hard for me to get out to, or create social events, but even making myself a nicer dinner on a real plate with wine from a real wine glass can be enough to give me soul a little hug and sparkle
    Cora recently posted…Week In Review: Mood Struggles and Help From FamilyMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm
  • Reply GiGi Eats

    Wait? Nice clothes in my closet? Do you mean the Lululemon yoga pants as opposed to the Marshall’s ones? LOL
    GiGi Eats recently posted…What It’s Like To Move In Together…My Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 2:37 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, they count! I wore leggings with a sari…

      February 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm
  • Reply Kelli @ Hungry Hobby

    YES THIS IS SO AWESOME! I wish my hubby and I had dinner together more often with the TV off, it gives us time to connect when we do!
    Kelli @ Hungry Hobby recently posted…Easy Salmon TacosMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 2:50 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love it when Alex adn I do that. It feels so real!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    I’m a lot like you – if I can’t wear legging to an event or dinner, I’m out. BUT every once in a while I love having an excuse to dress up and throw down. Feeling fancy and decadent is a treat!
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Mediterranean Scallop Cauliflower Shell TacosMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 4:47 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Kind of like an alter ego!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply lindsay Cotter

    put on real clothes? What’s that like? Haha, kidding. Actually I’m not. We need to do this. Gasp! Guilty
    lindsay Cotter recently posted…Paleo Coconut Almond Butter Jelly Energy BarsMy Profile

    February 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, I didn’t say that you had to do it every day lol

      February 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply Mary Beth Jackson

    What a fun post! WE need a little dress up every once in awhile. The hubby and I went out last weekend , our Valentine dinner and he looked around and said, I could have worn jeans here. It’s Florida, we could have been in flip flops but I wanted to put on a nice dress and be festive. WE all need a little more festive 🙂
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…My 3 running wishes in case I meet a Genie!My Profile

    February 22, 2017 at 9:18 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yes! yes yes yes!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:23 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    Yessss! I am all about creating my own occasion! I will often make a cake for dessert for just us or invite my friends over for coffee and cake randomly (it’s not a celebration without cake, clearly) just because I feel like it. I often tell Jesse it’s because we should celebrate breathing for another day – because that’s totally an achievement 😛

    February 23, 2017 at 1:08 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I bet you create the best occasions. and yes, we should totally celebrate making it through the day!

      February 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    It’s pretty…very Victorian, so not really our “style” ya know?

    February 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I understand that. That is part of the reason we aren’t ending up with many of my family’s antiques. Gorgeous, but not our style

      February 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

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