Family Gatherings

Four customizable set-ups for fun
Ainsley and Riley serving their hors d’oeuvre


With Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Mardi Gras and Easter, we all have family and friends getting together to celebrate. Because these gatherings are multi-generational, mixing children, young adults and grandparents, you have to ready for anything! Whether you’re at the beach, in the country or in the mountains, the key to successful entertaining is to let everyone have a fun job, whether it’s setting the table, doing the flowers, crafting a special cocktail or mocktail, cooking an hors d’oeuvre, a main dish or a dessert.

This family outing was near Magnolia, Mississippi, and there’s always an event planned in between meals whether it’s a baseball game, ping pong, pool, hot tub, four wheeler excursions, hikes, scavenger hunts, bonfires, indoor games or more.

I created tablescapes in different areas – one outside in a rustic setting, a set-up for cocktails, tangerines in a boat accented by a rosemary topiary and a dining room setting for six people – just to give you a few ideas. I went to Pier 1 to get a few things, like napkin rings and more napkins, and used my centerpieces that I create with Luis Colmenares (available at To keep things simple, I used fake flowers and greenery in the palm frond holders.

My niece Ainsley and her boyfriend Riley created an hors d’oeuvre with asparagus and bacon and served it for the cocktail hour. The children ate pizza and tangerines and got ready to fix s’mores after dinner. The grandparents set up card games and a new marble game that everyone learned and played.

Décor changes for the different holidays, but the dynamics stay the same. Strong families keep in touch, and the most important rule is never to talk about politics!

Rustic table with a tapestry cloth near the camellia garden

Rosemary topiary with tangerines in a boat

Dining room setting

Cocktail setup