Out with the cold and in with the warmth that spring ushers in, along with a philanthropical spirit in entertaining, according to our special occasion etiquette expert, Jay Remer.

There is nothing more anticipated, or welcome, than the first real spring fling of the year, is there? The winter palette of muted colors and heavy fabrics, of comfort food and gravy, and frigid temps and indoor entertaining all make way for an eruption of bright and cheery pastels, a cornucopia of fresh, bountiful fruits and vegetables, and the warm feeling of the sun’s glow on our faces. This year, more than ever, we need to muster up whatever courage it takes to swing into full party mode. After months of challenging news stories, we need to bust loose and celebrate life. Spring welcomes rebirths of all kinds, including hope, compassion, and civility.

When Henry Francis du Pont entertained, his priorities differed considerably from the norm and reflected more his own personal preferences. So, number one on his list was the flowers, which were abloom in his garden. From there, he then went on to select the pattern of china that would fit most elegantly with the floral centerpieces. Then, the menu, including wines, was his final consideration. He also recorded in a ledger who attended each of his many dinner parties, who they sat next to, and what the menu was so these details were never duplicated at future parties.

The privileged du Pont was lucky to have such choices. Today, we often prioritize things differently than in his time. I choose the menu first and then work out the tablewares and decorations after. The start of planning any great party is to have an occasion to host the event in the first place. There are many life events we enjoy celebrating annually, and since we all love any excuse to throw a party, why not come up with an entirely new idea this year?

One innovative idea is to pick your favorite small, local charity–one that is out of the mainstream but could benefit significantly from a fundraising party. To give it a brighter spotlight and raise awareness, consider putting it together with a sporting event–golf or croquet, anyone? If the charity supports an animal cause, why not have one of your pets host the event? I’ve hosted a number of these intimate fundraisers–each one with its own flavor. The result is a genuinely fun time and a feeling of satisfaction from having made a difference. Amidst all the frivolity that we enjoy injecting into our lives, we must remember that most people don’t live this experience, and we have a responsibility to acknowledge this… and assist whenever possible. I’ve always been one to seek out the weakest link and turn it into a pillar of strength. Entertaining can be a great catalyst in achieving this.

Another twist to a spring fling that can require more courage than comfort is hosting a party with guests who likely don’t know one another. There are always newcomers in town, and this is a great way to include them in the mix, even if you haven’t met them yet yourself. Spring, a time of rebirth, is perfect for building new relationships. You will be delighted and inspired by how well these events work at building a stronger community, too. Build a guest list that includes friends from different demographics. Networking has far-reaching positive results and what better way than a party to meet new people and make new connections.

Finally, for some of us, a party that incorporates our favorite things, from flowers to food, may be something we’ve been putting off long enough in deference to the latest trend, formal obligations, or special requests from others. Why not have it all your way for a new twist? Organizing such a party allows us to color outside the lines and indulge ourselves in honestly considering what our favorite things actually are. Who are our favorite friends? Pondering these favorites is guaranteed to brighten your day. Toss them all together and enjoy the magic.