Whether it’s a special luncheon with friends, a casual tailgate gathering or an elegant evening soirée, when it comes to throwing a party with gorgeous tablescapes, creative cocktails, inspired local cuisine and unique personal touches, Birmingham locals know how to host a stylish gathering. We’ve brought together some of the city’s most creative event and style experts, and asked them to throw a party for themselves so we could learn from the best. It was surprisingly easy, not to mention beautiful, delicious and fun!
From the invitation and party favor to the cocktail garnish and place card, here’s how Birmingham’s creatives treat themselves to a fetching fete!
We found the ideal setting for our soirée at the picturesque home of one of our style experts, where her sprawling back yard is situated beside an old farm house and surrounded with a lovely white picket fence.
Jagger the dog has found his ideal spot in the shade under the antique dining table.
A bar tray features a custom drink card and beverage napkin, elements of the paper suite designed by Mary Baugh and Caroline Borders of Mariee Ami. These ultra stylish Fez Cut gold DOF tumblers enhance the beauty of the colorful cocktails.
“We love the watercolor concept intertwined with the seasonal elements. A lot of our clients want that, too,” says Mary of Mariee Ami, as she shares the Harvest Party paper suite, which includes party favor gift tags, place cards, invitation and matching envelope, menu and drink cards for the bar.
“I took a little bit from our specialty garden shop, and we don’t normally do cut flowers, but I wanted to do something different,” says Lydia Pursell of Leaf & Petal regarding her stunning centerpiece. “There’s this wonderful local lady who has this gorgeous dahlia farm, and so once I saw the colors we were using, I thought, ‘Let’s do something a little different.’ So, I met with her this morning, and we cut some beautiful dahlias that went really well with our Harvest Party theme.”
“I wanted to do something different and fresh, but also very easy. I mean, this arrangement took all of 15 minutes to put together,” says Lydia. “If you don’t have time to do some elaborate arrangement, get some great cut flowers and then add in some pretty greenery that you can pick up at a nursery.”
The cut flowers are in simple jars placed in this antique trough. Then, Lydia placed the pretty crawling plant and small sage green plant into Ziploc bags, and hid the rest with moss. Voila! A stunning centerpiece!
“I love the long, linear presentation of the flowers on the table, because you can see over it, and it is maybe only six inches wide, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space,” says Lydia. “And you still get that enjoyment of having it spread across the table, where people at each seat will get their own little piece of this arrangement.”
“Once we knew we were coming here for dinner, we chose the Gien’s Rambouillet hand-painted dog plates,” says Patricia Murray of Table Matters, “because our hostess has all of these hunting dogs running around, and the barn is very rustic and charming.”
“I love to juxtapose things, so we put these playful dog plates with the formal mahogany chairs from our host’s dining room and threw this Busatti linen tablecloth in a nice soft neutral at an angle on the table for a striking, casual look,” says Patricia.
The adorable, hand-painted French salad plates by Gien sit atop Match pewter dinner plates. And the William Yeoward crystal water goblets add a touch of classic charm.
“I love the wooden handle mixed with the beautiful calligraphy on geo-stone place cards that Mariee Ami made,” says Patricia.
This cocktail tray also features a custom drink tag for a delicious craft cocktail made by FoodBar‘s resident mixologist, Kristin Fillingham. “The color is just really vibrant with its deep purple and reds,” says Kristin of the Au Contraire cocktail.
The Au Contraire includes Small’s gin, beet and black peppercorn shrub, Aperol, Berentzen, muddled sage, simple syrup and fresh lime juice, garnished with fresh sage and a twist of lime.
Kristin made homemade candied apples for a fun, fall-themed bar snack. The fresh rosemary sits atop a handmade dish by Ian Craven, who presses all of his porcelain molds with antique lace. And the tray liner of watercolor feathers and fall accents is part of Mariee Ami‘s custom Harvest Party paper suite.
Kristin’s Not Far From the Tree cocktail contains, you guessed it, apples!
The Not Far From the Tree cocktail includes bourbon, fresh-squeezed apple, rosemary syrup and fresh lemon juice, and it’s garnished with a fresh rosemary sprig and a twist of lemon.
“The golden beets just taste like the best carrot you’ve ever had in your life. They are super sweet,” says Chef George McMillan of FoodBar. “And the salata is a firm, salty, ricotta cheese, so it gives a nice, savory kick to the dish. And then the dates add a bit of Mother Nature’s sweetness, not overly sweet, but it adds a nice depth to the overall dish. And we finish it with pomegranate seeds, French breakfast radishes and a little lemon agrumato, which is an extra virgin olive oil pressed with lemons. The colors and flavors of the dish are a real great representation of the season.”
Chef George’s beautiful fall appetizer looks gorgeous juxtaposed against the rustic feather place mat and Alain Saint Joanis True Box Wood flatware.
“I like not doing the typical wine and water glass,” says Patricia of Table Matters. “I think it’s fun to just grab a tortoise bar glass and throw it on with the whole suite.”
Chef George’s second appetizer is visually striking — and mouthwatering — on this Match pewter plate.
“Our house-cured and -smoked fennel-pork sausage is paired with confit finger potatoes cooked in a little duck fat, pickled okra, pickled red onion, and we pull it all together with a grainy mustard pan sauce and beet foam,” says Chef George. “It’s got lots of great flavors all the way through and textures, as well. You get the crunch from the confit potato browned in a little butter, the snap of the crisp sausage casing, as well as the juicy tenderness of the meat, and the pickled vegetables with the onion and the okra add a bright element that cuts through all of those rich flavors and brings it all together.”
“The cowhide pillows and the blanket just give it this inviting, come-have-fun-with-your-friends feel,” says Patricia of Table Matters.
These talented ladies enjoy the fruits of their design labor and Chef George’s delectable eats!
The craft cocktails from mixologist Kristin and appetizers from Chef George are a hit.
There’s nothing like coming together to enjoy each other’s company with fabulous decor, cuisine and cocktails.
Jagger is on the lookout for any stray bits of delicious food!
Mary of Mariee Ami pulled together this deliciously cute party favor, a caramel apple crusted in crushed pecans and chocolate. She wrapped it with a bow and a custom gift tag in our Harvest Party theme!
We wish you a happy fall and hope that your autumn soirées and Thanksgiving feasts are filled with delicious food, tasty drinks and creative decor, but, more importantly, with the laughter and company of your loved ones!
Thank you to Beth Hontzas for the drop-dead gorgeous photography of our Harvest Party!
Thank you to the talented entertaining experts, event planners, creative stylists and culinary minds that made this fall fete possible! Pictured here, from left to right: Caroline Borders, calligrapher at Mariee Ami; Mary Virginia Baugh, art director and lead designer at Mariee Ami; Patricia Murray, owner of Table Matters; Leah Ogard, sales assistant at Table Matters; George McMillan, executive chef at FoodBar; Lydia Pursell, stylist and owner of Leaf & Petal; Emma Reich, event planner at Mariee Ami; Neillie Kirk Butler, executive planner at Mariee Ami; Lauren Helmer, Birmingham city editor of StyleBlueprint; and Kristin Fillingham, mixologist at FoodBar
- Beth Hontzas: Photography
- FoodBar: Food and cocktails, food and cocktail styling
- Leaf & Petal: antique table, mahogany dining chairs, antique trough, creation of dahlia centerpiece
- Mariee Ami: Harvest Party paper suite, including party favor gift tags, place cards, invitation and matching envelope, menu, beverage napkins, beverage tray liner and craft cocktail name cards; geo-stone place cards; “thankful” party favor
- Table Matters: Fez Cut gold DOF tumblers, Gien’s Rambouillet hand-painted dog plates, Match pewter dinner plates, feather place mats, napkins, cocktail trays, William Yeoward crystal water goblet, tortoise bar glass, Busatti linen tablecloth, Scents and Feel blanket, Alain Saint Joanis True Box Wood flatware, Ian Craven side plates