Setting the Stage

Let the type of party you throw dictate your design approach—from swanky soirees to the non-stop neighbourhood drop-in celebration.


By Jen Evans
Photos by Sian Richards

Event 1: Cocktail party

TREND: Mixed Metallics

Offset rich, indigo blue fabrics with sparkly silver, gold and brass tableware for a look that’s sumptuous and festive.

  • Keep flower arrangements simple. Buy blooms of only one type and place them en masse in a pretty vase. Also, choose non-fragrant flowers so they don’t interfere with the food.
  • Cocktail napkins, minimal cutlery and small plates are all you need for this style of party. Combine hand-thrown ceramic plates with stoneware serving dishes and oven-safe vessels for a table setting that is pretty and practical.

Event 2: Buffet

TREND: Earthy Elegance
  • Make grabbing cutlery easy by wrapping it in individual napkins.
  • Label the dishes so any helping hands will know where to put things.
  • Lay out all of your dishes and their matching serving pieces ahead of time.
  • Use oven-to-table cookware so there are fewer dishes to do at the end of the night.
  • Dish out condiments or small bites like nuts or olives just before guests arrive. It’s one less thing to think about when the party kicks into high gear.
  • Write a work-back schedule from when dishes go in (and out of) the oven to when your guests arrive.

Event 3: All-Day Drop-In

TREND: Modern Vintage

For this marathon of parties, be prepared to use every serving plate, glass and fork in your arsenal. Add elegance to your table setting by mixing everyday white plates with antique family heirlooms.

  • Pile cutlery onto a centrally placed platter and replenish as needed.
  • Don’t forget the kids. Include food they love (like popcorn) and put out games ahead of time.
  • Place bottle openers and corkscrews in plain sight and allow guests to serve themselves.