An Intimate Affair
For sisters Ashley Casoria and Lauren Camino, the idea to launch The Little Gatherings stemmed from a birthday beach party last fall that had all of their friends asking who they hired. Turns out, the duo has a knack for planning small picnics and soirees—which are especially appropriate during pandemic times.
“People aren’t able to celebrate big moments how they used to, so this has become a really unique alternative for them,” says Casoria. The sisters create gatherings as small as their popular “sweetest date night” for two, as well as events for groups of 10 to 30, offering delivery, setup, breakdown, and cleanup. They have even planned proposals, baby showers, and surprise birthdays. Recurring elements include live greenery, blanketed or cushioned seating, and bistro lights for nighttime events.
“We know that this Valentine’s, people will be looking for unique ideas that don’t necessarily involve sitting in a restaurant around a lot of people,” adds Casoria. Take their advice and book a romantic beach picnic or host a cozy movie night in your backyard. The duo will coordinate the food, sweets, and even a movie projector to make your evening truly special.
One with Nature
Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, make a day of it by heading to Park and Ocean at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park to soak up the sun. Perfect for active couples, Park and Ocean offers a plethora of outdoor activities, such as canoe and paddleboard rentals to explore a mile-long freshwater lagoon. There are also two trails for a leisurely jaunt to learn more about local plants and wildlife. You can plan your own romantic picnic in the park or post up at the beachside bar and eatery, which serves no-fuss foods like panko-crusted mahi tacos, brisket grilled cheese sandwiches, and spicy Southwest chicken egg rolls.
Sip and Mingle
Oenophiles and couples wanting to further their knowledge of wine can do so by paying the Small Wine Shop a visit. Owners Timothy Graham and Tracy Pell chose to open their store last summer in Flagler Village because they felt that the up-and-coming neighborhood fit the vibe of the specialty wines they sell.
“People come in all the time and don’t recognize any of our labels,” says Graham. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, excellent!’” The shop specializes in natural, organic, biodynamic, and low-intervention wines, with an eye toward supporting farmers and family businesses. Their inventory includes limited-quantity bottles and varies from what you’d find at a typical liquor store. Visitors can sample the day’s selections, and the shop also hosts two monthly wine clubs—Daytrippin’ and Wanderlust—to help customers become more worldly drinkers.
This Valentine’s Day Graham and Pell will host a five-course wine dinner in collaboration with chef Takeshi Kamioka of Kaminari Ramen. As of press time, ticket prices weren’t finalized; visit the Small Wine Shop website for more information.