I love to entertain and have zero-cool about it. I always have way too much food and can't hold myself back from making last minute get togethers into styled soirees.
What I have learnt however over the years, is that my grandiose aesthetic vision doesn't always align with my limited budget (And by that, I mean it never does!) So whilst it's wonderful seeing my calligraphy at home in beautifully styled events for brands, I've had to learn little tricks to make my events feel luxurious without breaking the budget. This little set of tips and tricks will hopefully have you set for all your Summer entertaining!
01 | Set the Tone with the Invitation
Let's be honest. Text message & facebook invitations are efficient and make RSVP'ing incredibly fast. But they lack lustre and make an event you've put so much effort into making special seem easy to politely decline at the last minute. (Not that I'm on board with that behaviour at all!) So I've got a few simple suggestions about how to make sending invitations easy but special. You can draw / paint / illustrate an invitation in a Whitelines notebook (Available from Officworks) and use the Whitelines app to instantly create a digital version of it that can be texted to friends. Or, you can design an invitation on Canva or Paperless Post and text / email it out.
02 | Crisp Linens
Ever wandered into a homewares store and been stumped by the fact a plain, rectangular linen table cloth costs $100 or more? I have. I have multiple times. And generally on the day of needing said table cloth.
After years of studying Fashion & Textile design, I put my knowledge to good use and bought a beautiful quality skein of linen from Etsy and sewed the edges myself. And if you were to do the same and take it to a dressmakers / alterations shop, you too could have a crisp linen tablecloth for a fraction of the price (and potentially better quality depending on what you source!) Raw edges also work well for a rustic, minimal table! I also made square linen napkins this way and love how linen napkins create softness for every individual place setting when paired with a single bloom or stem.
03 | Bloom in Bulk
Flowers are a must at any event I host. I love how they look, smell and add instant softness to a tablescape. Having said that, they can add astronomical cost to an event. So I am not shy of a 5am flower market run to purchase something seasonal and have made friends with my local florist (for the days I can't bring myself to roll out of bed). In my opinion, a seasonal single stem on mass is not only more cost effective but visually stunning.
This Tiffany & Co. event inspired my love of single stem flowers on bulk as apart from the peonies, tulips & orchids, the other blooms can often be found growing wild or bought relatively inexpensively. And your table doesn't have to be as full as this.
04 | Prop Up Your Event
Flowers aren't the only items that can beautifully dress your table. If you have a beautiful crisp white linen table cloth, there is nothing to stop you from using candles and lemons or fruit (tastefully styled) or bunches of herbs wrapped in twine to dress your table. Sometimes simple is best.
05 | Don't Be Stiff About Your Serving-ware
Some of my favourite meals have been over mismatched cutlery and serving ware. I have always bought whatever dining ware I fell in love with on my travels, whether it came in a single, a pair or a set of 8. With cut glass tumblers from Vinnies mixed with one-off ceramic bowls and plates from global artisans, the table never looks like it has been ordered from a catalogue but it somehow works. Bringing a table together with items you love infuses 'you' into the event and suffuses love and individuality into your table setting.
06 | Get Personal
I write place cards and menus for a living. But I rarely approach my own events with the same professionalism and organisation that I do client events. The key is to couple your unique serving-ware with something that will make your guests feel special. (And if you don't feel confident doing this, you can always get someone like myself to add this touch!) For example - Rip a thick art card into even strips, punch a hole at one end, attach twine and wrap around a single stem (that matches the flowers / blooms you have in the middle of the table). Write each guests names on top and pop in the centre of their plate over a linen napkin (tied with a knot at the top).
07 | The Food & Wine Aren't Secondary
For food lovers, this statement may seem ridiculous. But I'm not talking about the quality of the food and wine - of course both should be delicious! I'm talking about their role on the table as visual props (before they're devoured!) Whilst delicious food that works well together is always my main focus, I also consider the mix of colour & texture contributed by the food & wine choices. Simple things like adding a spruce of green mint to the top of a berry pavlova can make the simplest of tables seem decadent and rich. Or melting chocolate down and creating shards of it with rose petals & pistachios can instantly add texture and colour. Consider ripping, rolling, cutting and shredding the food options into various different sizes and shapes to make the food as interesting as possible. And remember filling the platters to capacity is not necessary. Creating breathing space by including glasses and serving ware of different shapes and heights allows the tablescape to appear considered and tastefully styled!