Stephanie Booth Shafran on Designing the Perfect Distant Dinner Party


Author of the new book—You’re Invited, Classic Elegant Entertaining—Stephanie Booth Shafran shares tips for designing dinner parties with social distance top-of-mind.

Stephanie Booth Shafran in her home. Photo by The Ingalls

Known for hosting some of the loveliest and most thoughtful parties in L.A., Stephanie Booth Shafran makes entertaining at home look effortless. In her first book—You’re Invited, Classic Elegant Entertaining—she takes readers inside her stunning home designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber, and exhibits how to design eight different parties. From a house warming to a pool party and a holiday brunch, she includes all the essential elements to achieve the same level of elegance. Here, the author and style guru shares with us tips for party planning in response to the pandemic.

“The outdoors is the new everything. It’s all about being outside with family or friends—whether it be your garden, your loggia or your terrace—think of it as your stage. Living in California, I have always entertained outdoors. Allow nature and what’s surrounding you to inspire you and the evening!

-Keep it intimate. Invite friends you feel comfortable with and who feel comfortable with each other.

-Use your entire outdoor space for the party. Define one area for cocktails and a different area for dinner outside, so you mix up the setting.

A pool party setting. Photos by The Ingalls.

-Create a palette for the party—match the food, flowers and accessories to the fabrics and the season, so there is a really cohesive look.

-Go seasonal with flowers as there are so many available for summer! I love and often use all-white Lisianthus. I also love Snapdragons, Garden Roses and Hydrangeas in summer.

-Incorporate what you already have at home with existing vases and items you’ve collected.

A holiday brunch at home. Photos by The Ingalls.

-At the bar, have a variety of glassware at the ready. Lowball, Martini, wine and Champagne glasses. This may be a rare evening out for your guests, let them enjoy!

-Use your garden to inspire a cocktail. A kitchen garden can be a great source for this- fresh mint for your guests’ drink!

-Offer a special drink—this could be something your family invented during this time. My girls created one my family loves, Rose blended with ice.

-For appetizers, serve individual small plates so there is no sharing.

-Layer the table with textiles and pieces that reflect the colors of the garden and your surroundings.

-Add unexpected pops of color (and joy!) with your glassware and dishes.

-Make your menu choices beautiful and exciting. For the most part people have been eating at home so use this opportunity to make friends smile with food!

-Space out the seating. For an outdoors table that usually seats eight people keep it at a max of six.

-Use an abundance of one type of flower. Encourage guests to take a bouquet home.

-Ask guests to arrive with a creative mask. Use it as a conversation starter!

-It’s not about being fancy; it’s about being thoughtful and creative!”

An outdoor gallery setting at home. Photos by The Ingalls.

For more inspiration from Stephanie, follow her HERE on Instagram.

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