Entertaining, Holiday, Seasonal


14 Steps for Hosting a Sizzling Valentine Party

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

The heat is on! Having been selected one of ” The Salonniere 100: The Nation’s 100 Best Party Hosts in the Country” (oh, my…) I’m often asked to describe my  favorite  party in recent years. The nod certainly goes to a valentine gathering just last winter in Newport that my husband and I hosted in the midst of a jaw dropping blizzard.

Why that special holiday?A group of  dear friends from out of town provided a good excuse to celebrate this “love-ly” night which coincidentally fell on a Saturday. And appreciating that few are immune to cupid’s arrow, I was further inspired by the fact that there is always a light-hearted spirit when anticipating a party devoted to matters of the heart. By choice, our planning, details and execution  took on the feel of a tongue-in-cheek senior prom effort – friends came by to help (everything from swagging the red parachute silk across the salon ceiling to remembering to tape up the “XOXO” on the powder room door), soup was served and we laughed the afternoon away. No need for floral designers or party planners this time, which made it less a serious party with the focus sharply on  creativity and wit. We’re not talking fusty or stuffy here! Even the menu was decidedly low key; comfort food for sure….short ribs over creamy, parmesan-laced polenta and tarte tatin for dessert.

Here we go…14 steps for hosting a valentine party that’s long on sizzle and short on cost

Consider a  red carpet– it’s both a “star” touch as well as a gracious safety gesture given the snow conditions ( thank goodness for Home Depot.)

Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Add a sense of anticipation for what lies ahead, giving guests a series of subtle stages to their entrance…the front steps, entry hall, salon!

Valentine Dinner Web RES-24
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

One of my favorite “go to” décor pieces, lanterns always provide a touch of sophistication, and especially here, a romantic mood.

Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Bring in those cherubs (holdovers from our Christmas décor). It’s Valentine’s!

Valentine Dinner Web RES-20
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Use wit and whimsy to eye-popping effect—tent the ceiling…

Valentine Dinner Web RES-30
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

feathered hearts, anyone??

Valentine Dinner Web RES-39
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Don’t forget a light-hearted banner, proclaiming the event (strung from  fat and full red brocade bows, again, part of our earlier Christmas décor.)

Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Think outside the box—it doesn’t always have to be about flowers (sounds pretty funny coming from this garden aficionado, but flower prices do skyrocket around Valentine’s Day.) I chose beech tree prunings, sprayed red, of course!

Valentine Dinner Web RES-38
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Hang glass votives from the branches to add an elegant source of subtle  candlelight that will be out of guests’ eyes.

Valentine Dinner Web RES-7
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Keep table settings simple on a long narrow table that runs the length of the room; with the focus on the ceiling, backs of chairs and sprays of beech branches, simple red pillar candles in different heights were  just what the scene called for.

Valentine Dinner Web RES-15
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Don’t forget that place cards are always an opportunity for playful creativity (straight- from-the-dime-store foam hearts with bamboo skewers glued to the back, and propped in a water glass.)

Valentine Dinner Web RES-55
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Dress up the backs of chairs when they will be lined up and getting so much attention at a long table (we had fun creating this design, tied to look like a lady’s “shrug”).

Valentine Dinner Web RES-19
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography
Valentine Dinner Web RES-8
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Designate the loo with theme-appropriate décor.

Valentine Dinner Web RES-14
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Finished, and waiting for guests to arrive.

Valentine Dinner Web RES-51
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

Light the candles and let the festivities begin…

If you enjoy this article, please share it!
Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

16 thoughts on “14 Steps for Hosting a Sizzling Valentine Party

  1. Thank you for the lovely inspiration and suggestions on making Valentines Hosting extra special. I particularly like the use of red candles in the outdoor lanterns, the “shrug” enhanced chairs and the generous swath of red above the dining area!
    Wishing you a wonderful Valentines, Helen O

    1. I’m with you, and I forgot to mention that the lanterns are red metal, a great additional touch (but I think the “shrugs” are my favorite…a little fashion moment.)

  2. Just in time! My daughter’s Birthday is Valentine’s Day. Each year I’ve given her unique Valentine’s decor gifts. Now I have a much better idea of what to do with everything!
    Can’t thank you enough!
    Edward

    1. Mine, too! You all need to plan another trip up here; how long has it been?
      Sending you and Gus valentine wishes, xo FLB

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *