Autumn, Design & Décor, Entertaining, Living with Style

A Woody Tailgate Picnic Party

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In this gorgeous fall weather, I’d been out collecting pumpkins and gourds from local farms, a seasonal exercise I love as much as picking out Christmas trees from the same farms, where they are cut on the spot. Loving what I found this year, and always looking for a good excuse for a party, it occurred to me to consider a twist on the old “decorating the tree” idea… how about dressing the front door and steps and pairing that with a tailgate picnic party, right there in the front courtyard?

Having received so many comments on the Woody blog this past summer, I’d kept this fun kind of car in mind for another post. Then lo and behold, I remembered that a dear friend, Steve Seiter, has a very handsome one in his stable of classic cars (lucky man- he just happens to own Park Place, a classic car storage and maintenance facility…or as this Newporter likes to call it, “a marina for cars”).


Feast your eyes on his 1941 Pontiac Custom Torpedo station wagon, one of perhaps only 12 in the USA. And do you know why we refer to them as “station wagons”?  In the late 1920s, the first taxis were created using a custom-made wooden body, outfitted with seats and interiors, placed atop a metal wagon with wheels. They first served as conveyances for home-bound commuters at train stations. On this Pontiac, the wood body was built by Hercules and is in mint condition, making it a very valuable automobile; so valuable that it couldn’t be out in the rain, which is how the day dawned. But Mother Nature didn’t disappoint and by the time of the shoot, before guests arrived, blue skies were overhead. Between the star car, the yummy fall menu and the show-off pumpkins and gourds we had a jolly good time. Join us!

The framing of the wood body is ash, while mahogany is seen in the exterior inserts and inside door panels.


Even the headliner is a work of art!


The dashboard, curiously, was actually originally made of metal painted to look like wood.


Picking and gathering on the farms included two baskets of Osage oranges, the funkiest inedible fruit you’ve never heard of…but their chartreuse color is a great addition to any fall arrangement, or party.



Pumpkin -Butternut Squash Bisque
Crusted Duck Pot Pie
Assorted Sausages and Mustards with Sauerkraut
Artisanal Cheeses with Fig Jam
“Chewy Ginger Molasses” Cookies







Stay tuned for my post on outdoor fall decorating. Coming soon!


Hope you’re enjoying fall!

All Images Courtesy of Maaike Bernstrom Photography.

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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".

6 thoughts on “A Woody Tailgate Picnic Party

  1. What a perfect picnic setting – a fabulous woody and a wonderful menu! Thanks for sharing.

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