As a proud Gullah Geechee woman, I love to share my culture through hosting parties with dishes and decor that celebrate my heritage. I chose one of my favorite cities, Charleston, to host a Gullah Breakfast with tastes and sights that honor Gullah Geechee people. If you are looking to host your own soiree in Charleston, here are a few details on my own event and tips for your next Southern event.
I chose The Camden Room at the Charleston Visitor Bureau, a historic and newly renovated c. 1840’s railroad building for hosting a Gullah Breakfast.
Do not hesitate to contact the Charleston Visitors Bureau; they are an excellent resource for local businesses, venues, restaurants, and shops.
I invited acclaimed chef, Rashaunda Grant of Carolina Cookery, to prepare a classic Gullah Church Breakfast known to many throughout the Gullah Geechee corridor. It’s the perfect taste of the Lowcountry – rich in West African influences and steeped in heritage. The menu was inspired by her heritage, experience, and love of cooking. The traditional comfort food must-haves include fried fish, grits, and biscuits. Sauces, Jams, and Jellies are food groups, so don’t forget the spreads from sweet to savory.
If you are preparing the menu, be sure to give yourself ample time to plan, order, shop, prep, and prepare the menu. An extra hand or two in the kitchen is never a bad idea. You can reach out to local culinary schools or enlist family members or friends. When planning your menu, always consider the dietary needs of all your guests and have extra options that suit any restrictions.
There is no need to look far for decor ideas in Charleston with its scenic views and coastal inspiration. Handmade elements can be warm, inviting, and eye-catching options for a tablescape. For a Gullah Breakfast, think about heritage-inspired indigo textiles, sweetgrass, oyster decor, Gullah art, and fresh palm leaves with a color palette inspired by the coast.
For a soft, calming palette perfect to start the day, I paired my signature blue and white indigo-inspired color palette with pale pink and natural elements like bamboo chairs. I incorporated blue and white tableware and indigo napkins with sweetgrass chargers accented with silver. Create a floral bouquet with handmade sweetgrass Palm Roses in place of fresh flowers that can be reused again and again. I displayed my bouquet in a silver hammered vase coordinated with the silver hammered utensils that added texture to the decor. Clear glassware is a great option that can be used in various table decor settings and themes, especially if you want to bring out the colors of your beverages.
Lighting, sights, smells, & sounds are all vastly important, so be sure to think about that when planning your event. I chose the Camden room because natural light poured in from the windows with beautiful natural woods and brick created the perfect destination for a morning soiree. To add but not hinder the delicious food smells, I added very lightly scented candles to the table to add a hint of aroma along with fresh rosemary and holly. Live music is lovely, but the same effect can be created on a smaller scale with a tailor made playlist from your phone.
Southern Hospitality Gift Box
For an added touch of Southern hospitality, provide your guests with a gift basket complete with locally sourced and Black-owned products; Gullah Geechee seasonings, Muscadine Wine, Black Art notecards, sweetgrass Palm Roses, books about Charleston, a hand fan. Include elements that were a part of the event, so they feel they can take a piece of the party home; scented candles, sweetgrass coasters, and flavors from the menu like seasonings and homemade jams. My guests received Tiny Tassel keychain, sweetgrass coaster from local artisans, Rodney Scott BBQ Seasoning & Sauce, Lillies of Charleston Hot Sauce, A Gullah Guide to Charleston by Alphonso Brown, Jonathan Green notecards, and Gullah art.
Before your next trip into Charleston, be sure to check out Explore Charleston for local shops and restaurants from incredible Black-owned entrepreneurs.
Some of my favorite local Black artisans sell at the Historic Charleston City Market, where they share their handmade artwork from paintings to sweetgrass baskets. In Downtown Charleston is Tiny Tassel, a colorful, fun shop for jewelry and accessories owned by Mimi Striplin. When looking for great wine, look no further than Leeah’s Old Village Wine Shop, and local ingredients can be found at Fresh Future Farm. My dear friend Chef Danetra of Swank Desserts offers delicious sweet treats.
I hope my Breakfast party and ideas help you plan your next Charleston soiree. Do you have a favorite party tip or gift idea? Share with me using the hashtag #blacksouthernbelle. And be sure to visit Charleston Visitors Bureau for your next party.