Entertaining, Living with Style, The Newport Diary

An Invitation to Newport Summer Fêtes: 12 Entertaining Details

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Nick Mele

There’s no end to opportunities to party the night away during Newport in the summer. The biggest challenge — keeping up your stamina (sometimes a decision to take a night, or two,  off just has to be made).

Having been on both sides of the party game — a chair for a fundraiser one night, a guest at another the next night…and in between planning our own parties, I love admiring and analyzing what makes a good event.  After the key “musts” (setting, entertainment, food) the rest is all about the details. And the first and best place to start is with a theme. ENJOY!!

Entertaining Detail #1
Location, location, location — it will always add to a party’s success. Looking over the deep grass terrace of a large private home and up the coastline of Newport is a sure winner.


Entertaining Detail #2
For a mid-century decor note, consider suspended glass ball lights that definitely give a contemporary feel (as do the chairs) at the Redwood Library’s summer fundraiser.

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #3
Choose a theme that allows guests to “think outside of the box” — such as a cigar box purse, seen here at “Old Havana Nights” for the Aquidneck Land Trust.

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #4
Include professional dancers who not only entertain, but keep the energy factor up! Other contributions? Giving group lessons as well as coercing attendees onto the dance floor.

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #5
Light up the night with the theme’s title showcased on the main tent; this detail also provides color on an otherwise plain white tent.

IMG_20160723_220124 - Copy

Entertaining Detail #6
When guests dress for the occasion, their accessories enhance the overall decorations.


Entertaining Detail #7
Clever lighting designs are a great way to disguise the vast interior of a large tent; ie. inspired by the centerpiece’s tropical leaves.

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #8
Dress to the theme — even if it’s a scarf wrapped around the head, Cuban style.

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #9
For a veranda in Havana…chairs are a big part of the overall look of an event; take advantage of their many styles for reinforcing that theme.

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #10
When your table is a mix of guests who don’t know each other, be sure to have placecards. I suggest adding their full name, in large type, to the back of each card as a “tickler” for others when they are talking across the table to an unknown someone.


Entertaining Detail #11
The simplest (and least costly) of centerpieces can also be the most effective. Caribbean plant material and tropical fruits say it all about “Old Havana Nights.”

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Photographed by Jessica Pohl

Entertaining Detail #12
When budget permits, individual tents for dinner, dancing and into-the-night-conver sations are a distinct luxury.


Thank you, Francesca Campo, for many of these great styling details.

Featured Image Credit, Nick Mele Photography.

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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".

2 thoughts on “An Invitation to Newport Summer Fêtes: 12 Entertaining Details

  1. Thank you Bettie for this wonderful email. My daughter and her friends are giving a Moon Over Miami gala in Excelsior/Shorewood, Minnesota this weekend serving mojitos, ensalada (salad), lechon asado (roasted pork with garlic), arroz con pollo (chicken with yellow rice), plantains (sweet bananas), flan (custard) and espresso. If you’d like I’ll send pictures following the gala.
    All the best
    Anna Louise Fulks
    Coral Gables, Florida

    1. What a wonderful coincidence, Mary Louise…and exactly the same menu we had, which was yummy.YES, please send me images! Best, Bettie

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