How to Host a Stay-at-Home Celebration, From the Archives of House Beautiful

Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
·3 mins read
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis

From House Beautiful

No matter the season or the occasion, creating a beautiful table setting is always an important part of entertaining—even if that means not being able to invite guests over to enjoy it all in person. Sure, in the midst of COVID-19, we can’t exactly host a traditional dinner party with friends and family and Instagram content aplenty (#tablesettingideas), but there's no shame in setting the table just for family—or even yourself! As it turns out, House Beautiful has been preparing for this moment of stay-at-home celebrations for quite some time. Proof? Our June 1975 issue features an article titled “Stay-at-Home Celebrations,” which remains strikingly relevant for 45 years later. As they say, history repeats itself, and these tablescapes are surely worth repeating and taking inspiration from.

Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis

Celebrating at home means that you are the creative visionary behind your table setting, so why not repurpose pieces from throughout your house to make your tablescape more personalized? That’s exactly what this vintage House Beautiful article suggests: “Focus first on a bird cage, a most unusual centerpiece from Contempo, filled to the brim with fresh garden flowers—roses, tulips, poppies and daisies—arranged by George Cothran Flowers and woven in and out with ribbons.”

To continue this vibrant, nature-inspired theme, the spread features Mottahedeh’s “Butterfly” plate; although this set is no longer available, similar styles can be found in the Blue Butterfly Salad/Dessert Plate by Grace’s Teaware, a range of butterfly-clad pieces by John Derian (coasters, treys, plates, paperweights, and more), and Vista Alegre’s Butterfly Parade by Christian Lacroix Bread & Butter Plate.

Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis

A key component of any table setting is the flowers, but if you don’t have a fresh bouquet or a scenic garden filled with enchanting flowers at your leisure, former House Beautiful editor Molly Siple includes in her article a tablecloth that is swathed in a geranium design. “Bring your geraniums inside from a day in the summer sun to flourish on this table, deckside in Fashion Designer Evelyn de Jange’s Long Island house decorated by Michael de Santis,” writes Siple. “The “Geranium” table fabric and “Trianon” napkins, both from Franciscan, create patterned backups for plaid red plates and a covered server from The Pottery Barn, smooth “Una” stainless flatware at Design Research and bright green glasses by Blenko.”

If you really want to extend this floral theme beyond just the tablecloth, use matching napkins and place a planter (preferably with the same flower seen in the table fabric) at the center of the table, an environmentally friendly way to bring real flowers to your party without having to see them perish shortly thereafter. Might we suggest the Grecian Bust Pot from Anthropologie, which puts a new, earthy spin on an ancient-looking piece of decor.

Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis

Sure, the aforementioned idea of using a bird cage as a centerpiece might be too jarring and outlandish for some table settings, but another potential centerpiece is something that might just be sitting in your fridge at this very moment, waiting to be eaten (or thrown out, if you don’t get to it in time): Strawberries. “Fragrant and fresh, strawberries (meadow and cultivated) grow wild on a table in a closed-in terrace at the Galleria. For a brunch for four, Champagne and strawberries are served up in Seneca’s goblets atop Wedgwood’s “Wild Strawberry” plates and Bloomcraft’s cultivated variety on the table fabric,” writes Siple. It seems like we’ve been missing out by not putting strawberries in our Champagne, but it’s not too late to start! And, those charming Wedgwood plates? They’re still available to purchase (and they cost only $22 per plate), so we know what we’ll be using for our next stay-at-home celebration. Bon appétit!

Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis
Photo credit: Mary Elizabeth Andriotis

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