• Nisha Willis

Shots 'n' Strokes: Blue Edition

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Yesterday, January 16th, the women of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. celebrated 100 years of Finer Womanhood. The sorority was founded on January 16, 1920 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by five collegiate ladies: Arizona Cleaver-Stemmons, Pearl Anna Neal, Myrtle Tyler-Faithful, Viola Tyler-Goings, and Fannie Pettie Watts. These exceptional women sought to create an organization of women dedicated to empowering people from all walks of life. Through international programs such as Z-Hope (Zeta Helping Other People Excel), the women of Zeta have served their communities, inspiring others to excel through mind, body, and spirit. We are the first black Greek letter organization to be constitutionally bound to a brother fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., who celebrated 106 years of excellence the week before. The sorority boasts notable, successful members such as comedian and former international president Sheryl Underwood, musicians Sarah Vaughan, Syleena Johnson, Towanda Braxton, and Dionne Warwick, author Zora Neal Hurston, and politician Julia Carson.

On April 10th, 2016, I was inducted into this amazing sorority, and with centennial rolling around the corner from the new year, a few of my sisters and I wanted to commemorate and celebrate our journey to and through Zeta land. To do so, we decided to host a sip and paint at home to acknowledge fellowship and rejoice in 100 years of scholarship, service, sisterly love and finer womanhood. Such an event is an easy and fun way to showcase yourself artistically with family, friends, or friendly strangers. Whether you intend to celebrate or socialize, I’m giving you everything you need to know to host your very own sip and paint event.


Half of the battle of hosting an event like this is deciding what your party will be sipping. The alcohol options are important in setting the overall tone for your event. Just how fine do you want to be? Are you keeping it classy, or generating a turn-up? Your choice of spirits will let your company know what energy to bring into your space and pour out onto a canvas.

Head down to your local grocery or liquor store and pick up a few bottles to share with your guests. For a classier experience, try a bottle of your favorite white or sweet red wine that will be pleasing to various pallets. Stella Rosa has some great flavor options, from black to peach, with a sweet and sparkling taste. It is sure to be a hit amongst a room full of creatives.

Looking for something a little stronger? Transform your sips to shots and grab a bottle of your favorite liquor. For a lively party feel, try tequila or vodka shots. Be sure to grab a few limes or fruit juice for those individuals that require a chaser. Want a more laid-back vibe? Pick up a bottle of whiskey. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is as smooth as the song implies and may prove to be a popular choice amongst brown drinkers.

For themed events, consider concocting a signature cocktail, or try an easy recipe like this one:

Classic Hunch Punch

4 parts vodka or tequila

2 parts Hawaiian Punch

2 parts Sprite

1-part orange juice

1-part pineapple juice



In a large container, mix juice, and liquor and soda. Serve cold. *optional* In a separate small container, soak pineapples and oranges in vodka to tequila for 4 to 24 hours. Add fruit and remaining liquor to punch mixture or as garnish.

Are your guest non-drinkers or under the legal drinking age? Grab a bottle of sparkling cider to keep everyone excited and involved! Check out Amazon’s best sellers list and have your non-alcoholic sip component shipped straight to your door.

To make your event enjoyable for all your guests while keeping cash in your pocket, make your event a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) gathering so everyone can sip what they enjoy.


After tackling the deed of choosing the perfect sipping options, you must prepare for the creativity that will ensue. For a more professional experience, invest in some easels and canvases. Amazon carries several size options for those who enjoy the convenience of delivery. These items can also be found at your local Wal-Mart or crafts store.

Brushes are a must! Spring for a few variety packs for different line sizes and strokes. Acrylic paint is great on canvas, dries quickly, and is easy to work with. You can find your favorite acrylic paint colors at your local crafts store or order a set here from Amazon Prime. Be sure to set out water for cleaning brushes between colors, and line stainable surfaces with newspaper or plastic.

Not everyone is Picasso, so there may be guests like myself who have a hard time deciding what to paint. Try choosing a central theme like sunsets, goals, or love for your party to focus their work. You may also consider using a sample painting for everyone to recreate. This takes the pressure off your painters, allowing them more opportunity to enjoy the sipping portion of the gathering.

Set the mood…

The atmosphere is crucial. You want your guests to have a clear understanding of the vibe of your event. This ambiance will subconsciously fuel your party’s creativity and influence the outcomes of their artwork, so be sure to consider what you want your painters to feel. Light some candles or incense to give the room a pleasant, familiar scent. Make a playlist of music or sounds fitting your theme. Are you planning to paint beach scenery? Fill the room with pineapple or other citrus scents and play ocean noises or island music in the background. Aiming for Black empowerment? Try burning jasmine or white sage incense while blasting conscious hip-hop or neo-soul. Whatever your theme, be sure to complement it with the right atmosphere to get those creative juices flowing.


Enjoy the fruits of your labor with your invited company. Sip, relax, and release your energy out onto the canvas before you. Socialize and laugh with the creative minds around you and celebrate the opportunity to create comfortably.

My sisters and I used our love for Zeta as a central theme for our sip-and-paint gathering. Since this is a monumental year for us and our organization, we decided to be a bit adventurous for our party. Wine was a bit too fine, and we were in the mood for a turn-up. I had recently bought a slew of bottles on a cruise to and from Cozumel in December, so I offered my sisters an open bar with an array of liquor from authentic Mexican tequila to smooth whiskey. We renamed our event “Shots ‘n’ strokes” and planned to take a shot of each of the bottles I had provided. After the first tequila shot, however, we craved the safety of fruity and familiar. Luckily, in preparation for our brother’s Founders’ Day on January 9th, my Sigma boyfriend made Blu Juice (a sigma staple) and that became our ‘sip’ of choice. We found it quite befitting for the blue artwork that was to come.

I lit a balsam fir scented candle to remind us of the copious amounts of time we’ve spent outside in service to our community. We laid plastic grocery bags over the carpet to catch paint spills and equipped ourselves with various brushes, and water to clean them. I suppose my sisters were in a “for the culture” mood and wanted some “bop” in their work, so we started our night with Da Baby blasting from the television speakers. As the inebriation set in, however, our music selections quickly changed to the melodic sounds of Ella Mai, SZA and H.E.R. Anything for the culture.

When shopping for paint earlier in the day, we made it our mission to ensure that royal blue, white, and black made their way into our cart, because you can’t paint in Zeta without the proper blue. We managed to grab a pack of various colors just in case. I’m not sure we thought our projects through sufficiently in the planning stages because halfway into our pieces, we realized those 3 colors just weren’t enough. We spent almost an hour and a lot of paint attempting to mix the right combination of colors to make brown, and to no avail. The struggle was enjoyable but time-consuming, so we had to finish our projects at a later session in the week. Both sessions resulted in these beautiful pieces and precious bonding time. In the future, though, we’ll be sure to buy all of the colors that come in a 10 pack of Crayola markers to consolidate sessions and save paint.

Thinking of planning your own sip and paint event? Share your experience and pictures with us in the comment section.

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