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Our Guide To Making Your Holiday Entertaining Shine

By The Editors | November 13, 2019 | Lifestyle


In addition to incorporating family heirlooms, Casie Fischer enlisted the work of area vendors to capture the local aesthetic.

Art of Tradition

Any event designer will tell you that the one element of a party nearly impossible to create from nothing is a sense of place. It is the character that a well-appointed home, venue, or in this case, a 900-year-old Scottish castle, inherently offers. When Casie Fischer of Thistle Wynd Productions first decided to style a dinner party at Wardhill Castle in Aberdeenshire, she knew she had found sacred ground. The castle is owned and inhabited by the Leslie family, of which actress Rose Leslie—who played Jon Snow’s first love, Ygritte, in HBO’s Game of Thrones—is a member. “We wanted it to feel elevated and luxurious, but also comfortable and homey, since we were in someone’s personal home,” explains Fischer, who teamed up with local planner Donna Taylor on the project. All of the glassware, serveware, candlesticks and “the big beautiful silver urn in the middle of the table” actually belong to the Leslie family. Fischer mixed these heirlooms with Houston-based House of Hough linens, live local foliage, and handwritten menus and place cards. Pairing old and new is a signature of Fischer’s events, especially her weddings, as she often works family heirlooms or vintage pieces into a client’s wardrobe, bouquet or table setting. The rich, traditional jewel tones of Scottish kilts served as inspiration for the saturated color palette, further pushing forward that sense of its centuries-old surroundings.


Less is more in the case of this pared-down styled shoot by floral designer Elizabeth Miller.

Farm to Tablescape

“In food, you have the farm-to-table movement, but I think you can see the same trend within the events industry,” says floral designer Elizabeth Miller of The Petaler. She’s speaking in reference to a styled shoot she produced at Blackwood Farm in Hempstead. “There are fig trees throughout the property,” describes Miller of Blackwood, “[and] beautiful gardens, where they grow berries, squashes, tomatoes and all kinds of fruit.” A bare-bones on-site event venue set the scene for the eight-person tablescape, which was inspired by the farm itself, in particular, the “symbiotic relationship between the farm and entertaining,” she explains. “We didn’t have to bring in anything exotic or over the top because it just all came straight from the field.” The event’s moody palette was informed by blackberries she plucked from the grounds, which were tied around each napkin and arranged in vases as centerpieces. The decor was purposely left simple and minimalistic, with place cards made of handmade paper, gray linens and a few candles, to reflect the primitive nature of its surrounds. “Minimal design can be just as beautiful as opulence,” Miller concludes.


A Fare Extraordinaire worked a little boho magic for an on-trend dinner on the lawn at the Houston home of calligrapher Meg Grant.

Take it Outside

In other parts of the country, in late fall and winter as temperatures drop, events are moved indoors. But here in Texas, you can have a delightfully stylish, and comfortable, alfresco dinner party smack-dab in the middle of November. Exhibit A: this boho-chic soiree in Houston calligrapher Meg Grant’s backyard. “For the tablescape, the key is always texture, layering all the elements together to give the event depth and sophistication,” says Grant. And layer she did, with the help of local catering and event planning company A Fare Extraordinaire. “She wanted it to feel informal and intimate, but still polished and put together,” says lead designer Christina Kassi. For the table, crates and extra-wide wooden toppers were brought in and adorned with ivory linens and out-of-the-box fall florals (think spray roses, ranunculus, kiwi fruit, pampas grass and dahlias) by Maxit Flower Design. An earthy palette of warm neutrals and jewel tones came alive with vintage glassware, handpainted blush and gold china, wooden chargers and gold flatware. In keeping with the boho vibe, traditional seating was snubbed in favor of stacked blankets and white fur pillows. Though the event was casual, plenty of serving staff were at the ready, passing autumnal dishes like carrot ginger soup, braised beef short ribs, seasonal flatbread and more, as well as the night’s specialty cocktail, blood orange margaritas.

Photography by: From top: Firefly & Embers Photography; Christine Gosch; Ashleigh Amoroso