Let’s skip the part where we wax poetically about how Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer—yes, we’ll miss the beach too—and focus on the positive: it’s the perfect weekend to throw a party. For a few reasons: There’s the ample length of time, the lovely early September weather, and the overall mood: everyone wants to be out and about, because. . . it’s Labor Day.
With that in mind, Vogue tapped the creative and curious minds of our favorite entertainers, tastemakers, and interior designers and asked them to create their dream dinner party tables—and impart their best hosting tips. (You can’t go wrong with a lot of flowers, and don’t underestimate UberEats.)
Prepare to be inspired, below.
Robin Standefer, Stephen Alesch
(Founders of Roman & Williams)
(Founder of Emily Thompson Flowers)
Their perfect summer table, explained: “On our tablescape is a combination of items inspired by the meadow and garden and summer. The table is undressed and bare oak, no table cloth is fresh and spare, and bare wood is beautiful and clean in the summer. I love this tablescape because it works for day or night, city or country.”
Go-to table styling trick: “When in doubt, add more flowers and candles meandering down the table. Nature has no faults, and you can always show your guests that you love them with a wild array of flowers and lights.”
Favorite summer meal to serve: “Fresh tomato salad from the garden with fennel pollen, and Stephen’s epic fish soup with everything fresh from Montauk—a crab broth and red curry base, chock-full of crabs and clams and mussels and every herb imaginable.”
Handy hosting advice: “From an etiquette master, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Morocco—be sure that the final touches, the last and most precious details, are done by your hand alone, and in the best dress you can muster even though you’ve been hectic preparing all day. That moment of joy with your table before your guests arrive will transform you.”
Where they’re entertaining: Montauk and New York City.
(Founder of Land of Belle)
Her perfect summer table, explained: “I wanted to create a light-hearted and festive lunch table in the Hamptons that would also evoke a sense of summer by the sea in France,” she says. “I chose locally grown white cosmos and tangerine dahlias for flowers on the table, along with sea shells collected on Georgica Beach to celebrate the height of summer in Long Island, and a cup of fresh mint because there's nothing like catching that scent in the air when the breeze rolls in.”
Go-to table styling trick: “Layer in mixed prints of harmonious colors and use tumblers for charming, low arrangements scattered across the table.”
Favorite summer meal to serve: “A fresh salad of buffalo mozzarella, peaches, figs, basil, and avocado finished with Mano Dori, my absolute favorite balsamic vinegar.”
Handy hosting advice: “The soundtrack sets the mood. And, your guests will only be as relaxed as you are.”
Where she’s entertaining: Georgica Pond, East Hampton.
(Interior designer, founder of Studio McKinley)
His perfect summer tablescape, explained: "Heath ceramics have a beautiful weight and texture, there is also an understated quality that I love," he says. "The vintage tumblers and glasses with woven covers add texture a soulful presence to the table."
Go-to table styling trick: “The addition of foliage is the easiest way to enliven a tablescape. I incorporate greens and flowers of various sizes to create visual and physical texture. Continuity is also crucial for a great tablescape and easy to do by creating a small trail of foliage down the table, or adding a runner. Beautiful table linens and interesting glasses are a no-brainer.”
Favorite summer meal to serve: “My go-to dish is Spaghetti Chitarra with a lemon zest, Calabrian chili, and parmigiano reggiano sauce. The fresh lemon combined with the peppers create a light and spicy sauce.”
Handy hosting advice: “Hosting a party should always feel comfortable—it’s important to remember you are not a restaurant! Your guests should feel right at home. The best dinners I have ever hosted were welcoming and warm. So dim the lights, and make sure there is plenty of food.”
Where he’s entertaining: The McKinley Bungalow in Montauk, New York.
Her perfect summer table, explained: “I wanted the design for this dinner to reflect the setting and for it to feel like a very light and whimsical celebration. We decided that lemons would be the focal point so I had lemon-themed placemats custom made and we placed white china on top so as not to take away from the pattern. We could have used any dish and the table still would have looked festive, but I wanted the lemons to be the star. We also pinned real lemons with paper leaves that acted as place cards with each guest name adorned on one,” she says. “Then we placed a menu to finish the look. I always love to do a menu so the guests know what their choices are, especially when they are in a new country with such fabulous food!”
Go-to table styling trick: “I love to fill a table with lots of candles and add just a small amount of florals. Candles can create any mood at an event—romantic, festive, moody, or sexy. They can transform a space into anything a party needs. Balloons can also set a tone. Balloons surrounding a simple table can instantly turn a quiet party into an upbeat celebration.”
Favorite summer meal to serve: “I like to bring in summer fruits, either in a cold soup or salad. I love a fresh white and yellow peach salad with a dollop of burrata and a touch of mint.”
Handy hosting advice: “Make it short, fun, and heartfelt.”
Where she’s entertaining: Wherever her clients (like the Kardashians) need her. In this case, Lake Como, Italy.
(Founder, Year & Day)
Her perfect summer table, explained: “In this season you see a lot of patriotic tablescapes, and this table winks to that theme with a modern interpretation of classic shades,” Duryea says. Here, she reinterprets red, white, and blue with Year and Day’s signature palette: “Midnight (a deep Navy blue), Daybreak (a soft blush pink), and Moon (a lovely off-white) with a pop of gold in our matte-gold flatware,” she explains.
Go-to table styling trick: “I like to bring my collections that I keep in other rooms of the house to the table to spark conversation or to celebrate a specific occasion or guest. For example, I have a collection of hand-painted Limoges boxes passed down from my mother. When I’m hosting her, I like to arrange them on the tablescape.”
Favorite summer meal to serve: “I always say you don’t have to be a cook to be a host!” Duryea says. “I order from a favorite restaurant using UberEats and serve family style on my favorite serving pieces. Right now I’m loving Vietnamese from Charile Phan’s Out The Door; the Cellophane Noodles with Crab and Fried Chicken are crowd-pleasers..
Handy hosting advice: “My husband and I keep a house playlist that we’re continually refreshing by adding and retiring songs. Our recent favorites are songs from the Big Little Lies soundtrack, which is my go-to playlist for hosting this summer.”
Where she’s entertaining: Her home in Pacific Heights, San Francisco.
**Her perfect summer table, explained: **"For me, the tablescape is a blank canvas on which I can experiment; I endeavor never to repeat a concept. For this particular table, my interest was tying together three of my perennial neutrals: blue and white, bamboo, and my signature pattern. It felt like the perfect color palette for late summer."
Go-to table styling trick: “Lots of interesting layering! The tablecloth is the foundation of the table; make it bold. Atop it: chargers, dinner plates, napkins, napkin rings, enough flatware for the meal, and hand-painted menus. In the middle of the table, centerpieces double as conversation pieces—sculpture, ornamental treats, pictures in frames, or flowers from my garden, organized at different heights, but never too tall to obstruct conversation.”
Favorite summer meal to serve: “Lobster pizza. Why choose between two great things when you can have both?”
Handy hosting advice: “Practice each recipe before you serve it. Make sure you know what you're cooking to avoid serving your guests a dud.”
Where she’s entertaining: Her family home in Westchester, New York.
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Originally Appeared on Vogue