5 Tips for Creating a Themed Gathering
Host the party of your dreams. Eva Kosmas Flores of Adventures In Cooking shares her 5 best tips for creating a themed gathering.
Eva Kosmas Flores here. I just wrapped up co-hosting my 10th Secret Supper with Danielle, Mona, & Jaret and this past one was my favorite supper yet! It took place at Hama Hama oyster farm on the Hood Canal in Washington, and was the perfect medley of sunshine, ocean breezes, fresh ingredients, sea air, and local seafood.
Since this supper was out on the Hood Canal, we decided to tie in the location to the menu and the table settings. We sourced some beautiful pieces for serving and for the table from Crate and Barrel, which you can take a peek at in the images accompanying this post. Lovely, right? Here are my tips for creating a themed gathering of your own.
1. Decide on the location: The location of your gathering is going to have a huge impact on the menu, florals, place settings, and overall vibe of the event. When youâ€™re trying to decide on where to host it, make sure to consider drive time to the location, the number of people that can feasibly be hosted there, what furniture (i.e. tables + chairs) you’ll need to bring in versus whatâ€™s already there, the lighting situationâ€”If itâ€™s outdoors and you plan on being out past dark, how will you keep folks from being in the pitch black?â€”the weather, and of course the view.
2. Create a menu that compliments the location: Think about what food occurs naturally near your chosen location or what complements the aesthetic. If itâ€™s in the woods, things like mushrooms, venison, and berries work well. If youâ€™re at the coast, focus on seafood. If youâ€™re in an old beautiful barn, focus on farm-to-table produce and homestyle dishes. If youâ€™re on the rooftop of a building downtown, a more modern molecular gastronomy-based menu would be a good fit. You see where Iâ€™m going with this…
3. Choose place settings that tie into the surrounding textures and colors: When youâ€™re setting the table, you need to envision what it is going to look like when several of those place settings are laid out in a row on a table in the environment. Try to imagine what the color scheme of the plates, bowls, glasses, and silverware will look like in your chosen location, and then imagine what each dish will look like served on the dinnerware. If you have a juicy stew for the main, for example, it might be better to serve it in a bowl and use the plate for the salad course instead. If youâ€™re hosting the gathering near the sea, try tying in the surrounding colors like greys, blues, and light tans. If youâ€™re setting up in the forest, try incorporating wood serving bowls and utensils, and so on.
4. Incorporate organic materials into the decorations: Always keep your eyes peeled at the gathering location for natural materials that you can tie into the decor. Things like wild flowers, evergreen cuttings, pebbles, driftwood, and shells make for beautiful and simple tabletop garnishes. For our Secret Supper at Hama Hama oyster farm, we laid a sun-bleached oyster shell on the menu atop each place setting at the table. This served as a fun take-home for the guests to remember the supper by and also added a beautiful decorative touch that tied in the culture of the location to the tabletop. Danielle Firle of Tendue and Gwen Severson of Botanically Inspired also foraged small driftwood logs from the beach and used floral glue to affix flowers and shells to the logs for centerpieces, tying in the tabletop decor to the local surroundings yet again.
5. Make sure the guests are aware of the theme as needed: If the theme of the gathering requires any special attire such as costumes or snow-ready garments, the guests should be made aware of these requirements well ahead of time so that they can plan accordingly. When we hosted our Wintertide Secret Supper in the snow, we made sure our guests are aware of this beforehand, so that they came wearing snowshoes and their warmest coziest clothing. If the gathering takes place at a winery and you will be serving and tasting a lot of wine, itâ€™s a good idea to let guests know ahead of time so that they can coordinate transportation back home. Always anticipate any possible difficulties with your gatheringâ€™s theme on the guestsâ€™ end and make sure they are made aware of the potential conflict well ahead of time so that they can accommodate it.