With so many teeny tiny details to think about - planning a fun and lively dinner party can be pretty intimidating for new brides. Whether just welcoming the beginning of spring or celebrating Easter, there’s nothing better than visiting with your fiance, family and friends. If it is 2 or 12 it doesn’t matter - the best parties, at least in my experience, are the simple ones you actually enjoy.
Thankfully Tristen Needham from Design Studio South joined me with Pottery Barn, Colonial House of Flowers, Camp Makery and Rach Lea Photography to lay down the must have elements with the most impact. Skip the stress. You can have a last minute affair that’s inexpensive, chic, elegant, and polished in a flash. I’m talking completely sweatfree without sacrificing style for savings. Trust me - you’re going to want to keep this list handy.
Same Color Fresh Flowers:
Arrangements with flowers all the same color are impossible to get wrong. Think different flowers in a monochromatic tone for luxurious, impressive and totally easy. Or, the blooms can quickly be grouped by themselves in baskets and containers.Clip and pop into a creative container like this Beachcomber Wood Handled Basket for a look that is hassle free, yet beautiful. Shop at your neighborhood flower shop, snip a few petals from your garden. Ranunculus, tulips, and peonies are easy to find. The more the merrier!
Tip: Add greens for a natural, organic look.
I usually have them by the box full. Candles are an absolute must in all shapes in sizes - tapers, hand poured, votives. I usually stick with neutrals like white. Sprinkled throughout throughout a space is hard to beat when it comes to lighting up a festive party and setting the mood on the fly.
Easiest way to an impromptu dinner? A drink dispenser full of a signature cocktail poured by the guests themselves. It’s fun. It’s practical. Or leave open wine bottles about the table. Let them fill their glasses while you mingle with guests. It will go a long way in saving you trips to the kitchen during the party. Sliced vegetables displayed in front of the beverages or submersed in the water adds sophistication.
Tip: Always have the makings of a signature cocktail on hand. Mine includes flowers and berries but the one From the Kitchen of Azure made today is a great take on a grown up punch that people really love.
Blooming Blush Cocktail
1 bottle red wine (I like Cameron Hughes)
1 bottle margarita mix
2 quarts ginger ale
Directions: Mix equal parts of the first three ingredients together. Chill. Squeeze have the lime over the punch just before serving. The remaining lime can be sliced to float in the dispenser or as a glass garnish.
Since spring is in the air, bring out cordials or waters that are bright and light.
Drab? Not on your life. White dishes are the basis of great tables. You can layer on napkins, place cards, a menu, a flower or even a cutting from your backyard.
Entertaining is not a serious business. Your supplies should reflect that cheerful feeling so that guests know they’re in for laughter, smiles and good times. I love keeping pretty place card holders with friends names, festive napkins, and cute straws on hand. And have been known to use lively clippings from nearby containers to add a bit of caprice to the meal, the table, the bar, the plate well, the list is endless. Add a ring of olive branch from a near by potted plant to your glass like I did here and you will always have a overflowing-with-happy setting.
The best part about having 2 - 3 seasonal favorites on deck if kept properly they can jazz up anything on the buffet. My personal go-to for spring is something light, fun, fresh, and playful. This Habanero Peach Sauce here is my favorite because with it’s real peach mix has a floral, tropical sweet heat that can be added to pork, grilled chicken, fish, salsa, salad, cream cheese and even dessert. You want the noshes to evoke a mood so have a few relishes in the cupboard to reflect that - you’ll have a warm, friendly dinner everybody will love.
I have Brownie Brittle and pralines by the bag at all times. Add warm caramel sauce, fresh berries or whipped cream to the top and treat is instantly elevated to a beautiful, sweet course to fit any style traditional, casual and funky or formal.
An Unexpected Detail:
Add a quick pinch of charm and a ton of character by incorporating a surprise. So yes, you can go from common to extraordinary in the twinkle of a minute by adding something as unpredictable as plastic eggs. See how it’s totally possible to get an elegant look with simple things (or wishing you had a huge budget for fancy stylist). This is a critical element that makes guests feel relaxed and special.
Spring is the perfect season to get together with friends and family, and hopefully these tips will make it fun, intimate, warm, chaos-free and enjoyable - without breaking the bank and on the double! With these elements you’ll be stress free - your guests will be thrilled they are invited and enjoy spending more time with you.
Photographer: Rach Lea Photography
Styling: Design Studio South
Small Bites: Brownie Brittle
Pralines: From the Kitchen of Azure Rountree
Calligraphy: Low Country Paper Co
Flower Selection: Mark Jackson, Cutflower Atlanta
Floral Supplies: Syndicate Sales
How do you entertain on a whim? Share your ideas with us on our Facebook page!