Hosting Ideas

How to Host a Dreamy Fall Gathering

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Wanting to take advantage of the still-warm days of early fall, Jenna Saraco (far left) and Nicole Steriovski, the duo behind Local Creative, decided to host a harvest dinner at the picturesque Macari Vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork. We’re big fans of this up-and-coming Brooklyn design collective (they champion local artisans!), so we were thrilled to join in and savor that stunning sunset, their rustic menu, and those perfect wine pairings. It was an evening we won’t soon forget. Read on for Jenna and Nicole’s inspiration for the event and to score some of their top entertaining takeaways.

Guests feast on assorted cheeses—two soft and one hard is a party-pleasing combo—fresh fruit, crusty bread, and drizzles of honey from the Macari estate.

Guests feast on assorted cheeses—two soft and one hard is a party-pleasing combo—fresh fruit, crusty bread, and drizzles of honey from the Macari estate.

First things first, how do you nail down your guest list?
“We always try to pull together a table of like-minded people—people who will be able to trade stories and share experiences. It’s our biggest hope that guests who didn’t know each other before will connect and go on to forge their own relationships.”—Jenna

When dreaming up your tablescape design, where did you turn for inspiration?
“We wanted to play up the gorgeous vineyard setting, working with the existing palette, so we stuck with burgundies, reds, and greens.”—Nicole

Big, lush gatherings of dahlias, blackberries, and greenery are set off by a sprinkling of small bud vases holding just a few stems.

Big, lush gatherings of dahlias, blackberries, and greenery are set off by a sprinkling of small bud vases holding just a few stems.

What were you thinking about when it came to the flowers?
“To reflect the setting, we wanted them to feel loose, organic, and wild, so our friends at Fox Fodder Farm, who created the arrangements, used mostly mixed foliage, along with a few dahlia blooms and clusters of blackberries for unexpected added texture.”—Jenna

Do you have any advice for someone who doesn’t want a professional arrangement?
“Flowers enhance any table setting—they’re the finishing touch—but they don’t have to be complicated. Popping a few single stems in a variety of vessels for a hit of color is an easy DIY arrangement.”—Jenna

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Handwritten menus detailing the delicious dishes prepared by chef Edward Macari (grandson of the vineyard’s original owner, Joseph Macari, Sr.) are accompanied by a sprig of local lavender.

Handwritten menus detailing the delicious dishes prepared by chef Edward Macari (grandson of the vineyard’s original owner, Joseph Macari, Sr.) are accompanied by a sprig of local lavender.

Fostering a community of people who want to make a difference is so important to us.

— Nicole Steriovski
A macramé table runner and simple place settings create the perfect neutral but textured backdrop for the flowers and each family-style course. First up? Mixed greens from the vineyard’s own greenhouse tossed in an earthy wood bowl.

A macramé table runner and simple place settings create the perfect neutral but textured backdrop for the flowers and each family-style course. First up? Mixed greens from the vineyard’s own greenhouse tossed in an earthy wood bowl.

How did you play up the season in this party?
“For fall, we’re obsessed with the richness and texture of kilims. And we love the thought of juxtaposing typically indoor pieces with a casual, outdoor setting, so we brought in a macramé runner for the table that has the feel of a rug.”—Jenna

What’s your favorite serving style for a casual dinner party?
“Go family-style for a warm, homey feel. It sounds cheesy, but ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ as the big dishes are set out is part of the fun. Plus, everyone starts chatting as they’re passing around dishes and helping serve each other.” —Nicole

An in-season inclusion, fresh squash soup warmed everybody up and set the stage for the next course, sage and brown butter tortellini.

An in-season inclusion, fresh squash soup warmed everybody up and set the stage for the next course, sage and brown butter tortellini.

Is there anything all hosts should keep in mind, no matter the style of their party?
“The details—that’s what people remember! For our harvest dinner, we topped each menu with a small strand of local lavender, fresh from the market, as a fragrant little touch. Those little accents are also major conversation starters.”—Jenna

What’s your favorite part of hosting a dinner?
“Honestly, sitting down and sharing a meal. I love lively family-style dinners where all your hard work culminates in this moment of great food and wine and conversation—plus, a beautiful sunset doesn’t hurt.”—Nicole

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The best part of any party is seeing everything finally come together.

— Nicole Steriovski

Related: How to Have the Perfect Date Night at Home >

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