Entertain AT HOME like a "Pro"


Well it certainly appears that we will be "staying home" quite a bit longer.

Being in the event industry day to day production seems to be on hold for quite a while. Luckily it is warming up here in New York and we can take advantage of the outdoors more.

This "new normal" seems to be here for a while. The larger parties won't be happening, but that doesn't mean you can't "set the mood" for your own family and entertain at home a little bit. I am really hoping we will be able to open up soon to a few close friends and have at least a little more family for dinner or a handful of friends...I think that could happen soon. Fingers crossed!!@#


I have literally been entertaining since I was a teenager. I guess it is just in my DNA. So staying home right now and coming up with a tablescape or a menu isn't that new to me. My Dad had a store in Memphis that was a lot like a Bed Bath & Beyond and I also used to go to the markets with him so I have been pretty familiar with tabletop merchandise, dishes and also having had a catering business many years ago I have a few tips under my belt for you to entertain at home like a pro.


This was a small dinner I had for a couple of friends. I actually ordered Memphis BBQ from Corky's, one of my favorite BBQ of all times. I order online and it ships overnight and even if I am not ordering "dinner" I keep their BBQ sauce on hand all the time!


You don't necessarily have to cook to be a great hostess.

With the event industry on hold for a while many of the best caterers are doing weekly and holiday deliveries. This is unprecedented for them- usually they only cater for larger parties but their delicious food is available for delivery in your own home right now. Check them all out. Marcia Selden Catering, Lawrence Craig, Crave by On the Marc, Elegant Affairs and Creative Edge all have various "to go" options right now.



Having been and event planner for the last dozen years and in the hospitality industry for over 25- I have been so fortunate to work with some of the best of the best in the industry from near and far. So until we go back to "regular" events I'll be sharing with you some tips for ENTERTAINING AT HOME like the PROS do!


With the sun shining and summer on the way here is the first of my outdoor entertaining and I'll be bringing you lots of other ideas and tips so that you can create beautiful celebrations at home. It seems that we will be in our "new norm" for a while so there will be birthday's, holidays and more celebrations to come AT HOME....whether a weekend BBQ or a special celebration I have got some ideas and tips for where to buy, where to order and how to make it happen.


Over 25 years ago really good friend of mine was living in a tiny little NYC apartment and when I would go over and hang out with her, she would light a great candle, have a small vase of grocery store flowers and crack open a bottle of wine. We probablly had a cube of cheese and a cracker or 2. We always had some great tunes in the background....as she said "I'm makin' by 2 x 2 box as comfortable as I can".

This could not have resonated with me more at this time as we all stay home.



Set the mood, set the table, make it good, do your best and make it happen!


I promise - I have never ever heard anyone say "I don't like this" with a candle lit, a pretty flower and music playing." You don't have to like to or be good at cooking, there are plenty of tricks around that. You don't have to be a floral designer to put some sunflowers in a bucket...it's not brain surgery. The smallest details wll make it so beautiful and memorable AND set the mood just right that you can relax and enjoy.


I was supposed to be planning an event around this time ( before virus) that would have had a light and airy bohemian theme. I had already started scouring for items needed and had a few on hand so I decided my first summer BBQ would take on that look.



I had already decided that I was going to treat myself when I found out that Belle Fleur was including my favorite flower, peonies in their "Box of Blooms" for their weekly shipping. Many of the best florist are doing blooms by the box shipped straight to you from the growers. This set the tone for my Bohemian picnic setting.


I had bought some dishes in a thrift store I have been saving for my daughter and I thought these rose pattern dishes were perfect for the place setting with the gorgeous Kim Seybert Napkins, Placemats and napkin rings. They are so chic and elegant!




I accented the look with a recent purchase of stemware and tumblers from World Market. They have some really affordable items that are very stylish. The tumblers come in assorted colors and look great with so many things. I also think they would be fantastic as mini vases for the flowers. I have so many things that look good with gold but did not want to invest in an entire set of stemware so I picked up a small set of gold flatware that is quite nice and a good weight. It is great having the option to change up my table and this stemware is great weight and quality for the price!





I purchased these vases last year but I see that they are still available at West Elm. Sometimes I use them together or alone. Depending on the flowers they take on a different look each time.


GET THE WHOLE LOOK!

Tumblers and Silverware from World Market.

Chargers, napkins and napkin rings from Kim Seybert.

Vases from West Elm.

Flowers from Belle Fleur direct.

The dishes are from a thrift store as I mentioned but I found a great and affordable alternate at Target for you.



The food was simple and not fussy at all.

We started with a delicious Watermelon Rose Paloma cocktail.

I made from a Half Baked Harvest recipe.



We had some grilled items and I made a watermelon salad. The salad is so simple.



I just cubed watermelon, sprinkled some feta cheese on top and sprinkled with fresh basil. You could also use mint. Sprinkle some chopped kalamata olives on top.


I made a very simple dressing-


Squeeze one lime and add the zest to 1/4 cup olive oil. A tablespoon of champagne vinegar, a drizzle of honey and 1/2 tsp of chili powder and salt. ( I prefer to leave the salt out of the dressing and sprinkle maldon salt on top of all the ingredients when fully done before serving.) Shake all the ingredients together and lightly drizzle on top of fruit and cheese.


Well next weekend is Memorial Day- I can't believe the start of summer is actually here. Whether in quarantine or not, I hope this leaves you with a little inspiration, insight and some new ideas for entertaining AT HOME.

As one of my colleagues recently said...quality over quantity is what counts and I have followed that advice for a long time.

Make your weekend beautiful and full of quality.


I'll be back some with some more ideas for summer entertaining inspired by the professional parties I have been so fortunate to be a part of. See you soon.


Happy Summer Entertaining!






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Carolyn Bender 
info@cbealifestyle.com

914-722-9094