Interior Designers Spill Their Must-Do Tips For Spring Entertaining

There are dinner parties...and then there are dinner parties. We're talking table decorations of epic proportions — think towering hot-air-balloon centerpieces and real moss tablecloths. Of course, it's no surprise that the annual Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Gala benefit, hosted by Veranda magazine last Wednesday in NYC, definitely took haute dining to a new level. The event featured 45 "High Society"-themed tables decorated by interior designers — and the final productions were as over the top as you can imagine.
And while we don't all aspire to create five-foot tall peacock feather centerpieces for our own rooftop barbecues, we did chat with the designers on their must dos and don'ts for creating the perfect soirée — no matter your budget.
1 of 7
"Don't be afraid to mix colors or texture. You can always use moss from a garden supply store as a runner and bandannas as napkins instead of formal napkins. Light-colored glasses of various colors also brings in spring. And, finally — a potted rosemary plant is a fun gift for your guests, especially if they cook."

— Dolores Suarez and Caroline Grant of Dekar Designs

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
2 of 7
"If you’re doing your flowers yourself, I always think it’s safest and best to do all of the same flower in an arrangement — just keep it simple, and I always bring in a fun cocktail napkin for color. Varying vases are really interesting... And, instead of using napkin rings, it’s great to just hang the napkin over the back of the chair."  

— Sam Allen, Sam Allen Interiors

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
3 of 7
"The centerpiece shouldn't be too tall so everyone can talk across the table, it makes for a more fun party, loud, boisterous conversation. Also, real candlelight is so important, and pink is always very flattering color."

— Elizabeth Pyne with McMillen, Interior Design and Decoration. Table designed with Lauren Frasco.

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
4 of 7
"Create a fun place card for your guests. Last night, I made 'Champagne bottle place cards' by soaking the original label off and pasting new labels onto the bottles with guest names. Invite guests to your party with all their senses...I am loving Odin Number 9 right now. My rule for any party at home is "one scent per event" to not overwhelm guests. 

"If a host takes the time to thread a 'story' throughout the evening, from serving a signature cocktail to creating a well-thought-out music play list to sending guests away with a small token to remember the evening, [that makes a great dinner party]. In my experience, guests feed off the host's energy, so it should feel light and not forced. Have fun at your own party!"

— Hilary Pereira, Hilary Pereira Event Design

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
5 of 7
"[Stay away from] any strong-smelling flowers, especially Hyacinth. If you want to do an inexpensive spring table, use daffodils, go to Pear River Market, and use spray paint and branches from the backyard."

— Michael Devine, Michael Devine Hand Printed Fabrics

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
6 of 7
"It should feel warm; candlelight is key; low and high; and if you’re going to do a large arrangement on the table, keep it higher and transparent...especially with the round table. so I can talk to the person across from me. It’s always about feeling warm, because this could be in my house or it could be here. Especially at these events, you can go crazy and fantastic, but you want to be able to see the people and have a conversation.

— Byron C. James, House Of Oasis

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
7 of 7
"I think it’s not about the money; it’s about capturing the essence and spirit, whether it’s a birthday or a holiday. And you can do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive, using mixing bowls with apples and oranges. Have things that are fun and witty."

— Andrea Stark, Andrea Stark Home Collection

Photo: Courtesy of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House