JH: Can you briefly describe how you set the table? Is there a main centerpiece or several smaller pieces? Are there any items you should always include besides dishware and silverware?
MD: For a lunch I did for you, knowing that you love ceramics, I put together a collection of handmade, vintage stoneware vessels and plates. I found these at various thrift stores around town. Random pieces are all ok, and tend to look more artful than matching ones, as long as you stick to your theme.
Then I took a little trip to the flower market and gathered up some gorgeous flowers, bought summer fruit at Trader Joe’s, and combined everything. If you are new to flower arranging, I recommend printing a couple of inspo pages from Pinterest for what you’d like your flowers to look like and taking those with you. The vendors at the market are always happy to help pull your look together.
Our color story was blush and rose gold, so I tried to incorporate that into our glasses, silverware, menus etc. Then I had some fun with finding the complimentary colors in the stoneware to give it a painterly vibe. Quick tip: pick up a pocket color wheel at your local art supply store to if you need help with the palette.
JH: Are there any specific types of flowers to avoid?
MD: I tend to avoid using lilies, just because the pollen tends to rub off on everything and can be hard to get out!
JH: What’s your favorite go-to flower or combo?
MD: I love peonies, and this was the right time of year for them, so we lucked out! But I love using Queen Anne’s lace, sweet peas, anything reminiscent of a rambling English garden. I prefer things to look a little wild and loose – don’t be afraid to let something spill over the side!
JH: Do you have any tips on creating a menu/ do’s and don’t’s?
MD: Think about the time of year and use it to your advantage – eat what’s in season and make sure there’s at least one great salad.
JH: If someone doesn’t have a large outdoor table, can they rent furniture?
MD: I would recommend buying a folding table – I have two at home that I keep in the garage and haul out for parties. It’s more cost-effective than renting and they take up very little space.
JH: Are you seeing any interesting trends this Summer? Whether it’s color schemes, patterns, cool specialty drinks, furniture, décor etc.
MD: This is a huge one for me, MAKE AN EFFORT!! if you’ve invited people over, throw on a great summer outfit, clean those baseboards! Introduce everyone and hand them a drink in a fancy glass!
JH: Are there any faux pas you’ve seen or experienced while hosting a lunch party?
MD: I think it’s a tragedy to make a huge effort with food, preparations, etc. and then use paper plates. Always use real, washable ones – they don’t have to match! mix it up! you’ll find no one cares, and everyone would rather have a real plate – even for picnics, you can get great melamine versions. Same goes for silverware. Zero-waste!
JH: What kind of music or playlist is your go-to for a lunch party?
MD: Try listening to some Charles Trenet – especially while you’re cooking and setting the table – he will get you and your guests into an optimistic mood!