Party Favors

Preston Bailey offers tips for summer wining and dining

Choosing a floral theme for a summer party can be challenging, but don’t be daunted. “Flowers are beautiful. There’s very little you can do to ruin them,” explains the event designer of New York-based, self-named Preston Bailey Entertainment and Set Design. Bailey recently created floral masterpieces for Oprah Winfrey’s 50th birthday bash.

But scale is never a challenge. Whether it’s an outdoor barbecue or an indoor soiree, Bailey offers tips for successful entertaining:

Be consistent. “Choose a color scheme and just run with it,” he says. Bailey’s favorite flower is the orchid. Sensual and mysterious, it comes in many varieties and hues. “One can tell a complete story [with orchids],” he says.

Select a showstopper. Choose a single element such as a stunning arrangement, a piece of art, a beautiful bowl of fruit, or even rocks or seashells. Bailey likes to break the formal rules of arrangement and incorporates everything from simple leaves to tall branches in his designs. “Once you have all the things in place, you can play with it,” he says. In floral arrangements, leaves should never touch water, he cautions, or they will fester. Bailey also recommends repetitive colors or shapes. “I love doing things symmetrically,” he says. “Symmetry looks cleaner.”

Use what you have. “Go into the kitchen or pantry and see what you have,” Bailey says, then add some flowers or candles to it. “I really encourage people to play and have a lot of fun. There’s no right way to do it.”

For more information and advice, see Preston Bailey’s Design for Entertaining: Inspiration for Creating the Party of your Dreams (Bullfinch; $45.00).

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