Merry May Day

Making a fresh flower wreath to wear as a spring crown. Happy May Day!
For some, the idea of throwing a spring-themed party prompts the distress call, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!"

Fortunately, we of Nibble Sip have partnered with TheMagicMixolotrix from New City Witches Cocktail Coven to help you conjure up a gathering worthy of gods and goddesses.

We transformed a small NYC studio into a Hebridean pagan paradise suited for a Beltane celebration, complete with a wicker man made of pretzels, a fanciful Maypole tidbit tray, colorful flower-shaped party plates, plenty of fresh flowers, and a resplendant springtime feast. Come see how we did it!

Our Fête of Fire and Flowers was inspired by The Wicker Man (1973 British mystery horror film), some old superstitions, and an insatiable desire to serve cute food and cocktails to our friends.

If you’ve seen The Wicker Man, you already know a little something about ancient Celtic fertility festivals, but you may not be familiar with the traditional activities associated with the first of May.

The earliest recorded May Day festivity is the ancient Roman Floralia, the festival of Flora, the goddess of flowers. Flora’s fête was a plebeian pleasure-seeking affair, replete with hares, beans, lupine flowers, and other Roman symbols of fertility.

Making a fresh flower crown.
We love fresh flowers!
Naturally, they became part of our celebration.
We always like to greet our guests with a punch
like this verdant, bubbly, fruity May Wine Punch.
In Germany and nearby Nordic countries, springtime fire rituals, songs, and maypole dances are celebrated on April 30’s Walpurgis Night (also known as "Night of the Witches").

Modern Estonians take Walpurgis fun one step further, dressing up in fanciful witch costumes and wandering through the streets in a carnival-like mood.

May Wine, a punch flavored with Gallium ordoratum (sweet woodruff), figures heavily in these celebrations.

In Great Britain, Beltane is closely related to May Day, celebrating the return of fair weather, spring renewal and new growth. Flowers, colorful ribbons, and painted shells are hung on a May Bush to encourage springtime growth. Special cakes figure heavily in the festivities, as do hares, fire-cleansing rituals and seasonal foods.

The Wicker Man's twisted tale of horror takes place in a fictional part of Scotland, but our party theme is more light than dark.

Instead of human sacrifice, we got a little crafty and made some floral crowns to bring out the spring deity of our guests.

We broke the ice with our guests with some fire by indulging in a brief candle-jumping ceremony.

In Celtic tradition, jumping over flames purifies your soul and frees your mind for creativity in the season to come. We think this is much better than igniting an unsuspecting virgin in the name of mere fertility.

Our food and drink ingredients were also heavily inspired by The Wicker Man’s island locale of Summerisle.

Whisky-cured salmon and garlic-lime shrimp are our offerings from the sea. Green Goddess dip with spring veggies and asparagus pastry puff "maypoles" set a suitably sacrificial theme.

whisky-cured salmon with rosemary crackers
Garlic-lime baked shrimp.
Some call it "rarebit", others call it "rabbit", but no one really agrees which is correct. We split the difference and dubbed our recipe "Scotch Harebit" — hearty porter beer and a splash of Islay scotch add a suitably Scottish note to this classic beer and cheese sauce. Our bunny toasts were made with a cookie cutter, toasted before the party, then topped with the warm sauce by our guests.

Scotch rarebit, called harebit. The cocktails contributed by New City Witches Cocktail Coven featured the dual aspects of the Beltane festival: floral flavors in the gin-based Green Man and spicy, fiery ones in the whiskey-based Wicker Man.

The Green Man cocktail
The Wicker Man cocktail

Any excuse will do to bake a batch of tiny, tiny cupcakes. These lemon-scented gems, adapted from Amy Sedaris’s basic cupcake recipe, were decorated with delicate edible butterflies, candied rose petals and candied violets.

lemon mini cupcake
We chose easy, proven recipes that can be made in advance. If you want to try a new recipe, please do a trial run before the big day. It’s like a mini-party!

Co-hosting is a practice we highly recommend. Divvy up the tasks beforehand, breeze through the prep, and reign over your entertaining domain like the divine beings you are.

Menu for A Fête of Fire and Flowers

pretzel wicker man
  • Nibbles
  • Crudités with Green Goddess Dip
  • Whisky-cured Salmon
  • Scotch Harebit with Bunny Toasts
  • Asparagus Puff-pastry "Maypoles"
  • Garlic-lime Baked Shrimp
  • Lemon Cupcakes
  • - plus assorted chips, nuts, and cheeses -
  • Sips
  • May Wine Punch
  • The Green Man (gin-based)
  • The Wicker Man (whisky-based)
  • Landlord’s Daughter (non-alcoholic)
  • - all drink recipes courtesy of
    New City Witches Cocktail Coven -
a festive spring feast for beltane
crudites with green goddess dip
And finally, we'd like to thank our beautiful guests for the pleasure of entertaining you with our little offerings of food, drink, and random merriments, and thanks also for arriving in fabulous attire, with a much-appreciated capacity for cocktail sampling, and with a general goodwill toward flower adornment. The best parties are the ones with the loveliest guests in attendance, and we achieved exactly that with your help.

Even though he will be miffed at the mention, we especially thank our dearest friend Ben for his photography, videograpy and cheese-grating skills, as well as for his tireless patience while we completely immersed him in pagan-themed cute-overload! xoxo