Storied Celebrations: Indy 500
Welcome, we are so happy you’re here! It is with great joy that we, Ally and Lindsay, formally introduce you to our new collaboration series - “Storied Celebrations: Everyday entertaining rooted in the Circle City”. This refined yet approachable guide to entertaining in the Circle City will include tips and ideas for creating meaningful celebrations of your own. We encourage you to use many of the items already in your home to tell your story.
For those readers who may not be familiar with the Circle City reference, it is more than just a term of endearment for the city we call home. Indy is referred to as the "Circle City" because of the original design, created in 1821 by surveyor Alexander Ralston, who was strongly influenced by the design of the nation's capital. At the center of a Mile Square plat, Ralston placed a circle — originally called the "Governor's Circle" because the governor's mansion was intended to reside there. In 1902, when the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument was placed on the circle, it became known as Monument Circle and has become a symbol for the Hoosier capital. It’s truly the physical heart of our city.
Now that you are a bit more familiar with Indy, maybe we should introduce ourselves, too. I’m Lindsay, and this is my little piece of the Internet where I share pretty things I create, places I visit and people I’ve met along the way. You can read more about me here. Ally owns Willow and Star Flowers, a boutique floral design studio that prioritizes locally grown flowers. You can learn more about Ally here.
Our story starts with friendship and the comfort we found in the other understanding both the struggles and fulfillment that accompany owning your own (flower) business. As our friendship grew, our desire to create something together did, too. While we have brainstormed joint venture ideas in the past, a recent gesture inspired us to instead create something meaningful for ourselves, with the hope of that gesture inspiring others. Ally knew a difficult weekend was approaching for me and dropped off a beautiful, simple bouquet with a thoughtful note. The flowers traveled with me to every room in the days following and ultimately inspired me to create something beautiful around them, as seen below.
This is our story, but the stories we really want to share are rooted in nostalgia and credited to the characters in our lives who have inspired our love of design and storytelling such as grandmother's gardens, hometown antique shops, Memorial Days at the race and so much more. For us, places and traditions are just as much characters as people are.
To commemorate the month of May in Indianapolis, our first feature celebrates the Indianapolis 500 to inspire others to celebrate our city and pay homage to this historic event – the greatest spectacle in racing. Below you will find interchangeable ideas perfect for a tailgate or porch party while socially distancing! We approached these ideas through two lenses, Ally being an Indiana native with true history at the track and Lindsay being a transplant who really just enjoys the fanfare and energy of the city in May.
Who doesn't love a fun tailgate? I enjoy beer pong as much as the next race fan, but we decided to bring a little 500 style to this one.
Carb Day - The final practice session before the race, currently held on the Friday before race day, is accompanied by a pit stop contest, support race and concert. With the race moved to August, Carb Day looked a bit different this year so we decided to honor it the best way we knew how - by eating all the carbs. Yes, those are fries from the esteemed Mug-n-Bun drive-in and I don't think anyone would argue that Classic Lay's are another perfect tailgate carb. We printed vintage Indy 500 coverage off Google and made these grab-and-go fry cones. As a proud Cummins employee, I had to throw some #5 love in!
Turn a wire basket upside down to hold your fry cones!
Ally's beautiful, bright flowers compliment the colors of the IMS flag. Can you even handle that honeysuckle?? The Muzen wifi speaker is not only perfect for your race day playlist, but it's a real AM/FM radio! You can pick one up locally from Parkside Linen.
-Fried chicken is a must on Ally's track tailgate list and judging from the responses of her Instagram poll - yours, too. Snag these deli sheets and food boats - they come in several colors and are cute for any event!
-Uno is not only a fun way to keep the kids entertained, but the cards are also IMS colors.
-I use these tablecloths for Halloween and sometimes a modern approach for my Thanksgiving table, too. Don't be afraid to shop your closet!
-Whether you have authentic memorabilia or some you've printed - its an easy way to add charm and history. Not to mention, it's a great conversation starter! Thanks to Wes, Ally's husband, we did have authentic pieces that were the perfect touch. The race is as much about tradition as it is sporting so, including that type of detail is intentional design.
After this tailgate at the track (and a Speedway local mistaking us for setting up a flea market), we headed to Ally's beautiful home that just happens to be race colors! While we hope this inspired you to jazz up your next tailgate, we also wanted to share a #500athome option you can do in your own backyard. Warning: you will see photos of our (ok, Ally's) very cute shoot assistant, Tucker (and a wrinkled tablecloth because we aren't perfect and are just keeping it real, folks).
-I used my black and white Willow pattern, a distinctive and elaborate chinoiserie pattern that you have probably seen in blue. I typically pair these with our fine, gold wedding china so again, shop your home!
-I'm more than obsessed with Ally's Paper Mache trophies. I now feel like an imposter living in Indy without something this chic and "Indy". Added to wishlist!
-Ally's bright IMS themed primary color blooms are the perfect pop against the black and white.
-I layered three runners for visual contrast; two buffalo check runners (used for my Thanksgiving table) next to each other to create a wider effect, and the red runner on top that looks like actual bricks, people!! I already had all of those - your table will turn out much more interesting when you use your own interpretation on a theme instead of taking it literally. If we had used true black and white race check everywhere it would of looked like a kid's birthday party.
-As much as I love my fine china - I am a big fan of chic, disposable flatware. This modern, black matte set was one I found during a visit to At Home before COVID-19.
The celebratory drinking of the milk is a standout tradition thanks to three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer who regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in Victory Lane as a matter of habit after winning the 1936 race. While you probably don't want to enjoy a glass of hot milk on a sweltering Indiana day, it's a fun addition to the table and the Oreos are sure to please any age.
Ally's flowers are quite possibly your favorite detail of the day. I could not stop swooning over her monochromatic, compote arrangement. Did you notice the MILK glass vase with serious trophy vibes? So perfect and clever! We also used some spare bricks that were laying around as a nod to tradition of kissing the bricks. They brought fun texture to both the table and the tailgate - not to mention it adds height variation. Nobody likes a flat table.
A note from Ally: When choosing flowers, I encourage you to go with what is in season and locally grown. We grow many of our own flowers and buy from local farmers, but you don’t have to be a flower farmer to use local blooms. Check your landscaping for bushes, flowers, and plants you can clip from. Peonies are obvious showstoppers, but don’t be afraid to think beyond the obvious. In these arrangements I clipped a few branches from a nearby honeysuckle bush. I love the wispy leaves and the dainty blooms. Plus, its subtly sweet fragrance is delightful. If your landscaping doesn't offer enough variety, pick up a bouquet next time you’re at the farmers market.
I love a theme and the opportunity to support local when possible. Indy has SO many great local options for just about anything, but Rad Brewing Co (formally Flat12) has the perfect ice cold options for this IndyCar party: Jarett Andretti 18 (orange wheat ale) or James's Hinchcliffe's Hinchtown Hammerdown (pilsner).
Last, but not least - don't forget track essentials (thanks to my friend Michaela for the mask!) and if you are porch partying at home, send your guests off with something besides a hangover. Transfer your flowers to a red solo cup and send them on their way with a pretty reminder of a fun day!
Whether you use some of these ideas today, for the race in August or any day you feel like celebrating – we would love for you to share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #StoriedCelebrationsIndy.
Stay tuned for our next feature coming soon.
Cheers, Lindsay and Ally