When it comes to hosting an at-home soirée, we always remember to pick up some fresh flowers for the table—it’s a way to instantly make your place look prettier. Today, we’re chatting with Boston-based floral expert, Kaylyn Hewitt, about how she does easy summer entertaining. After switching careers and starting her own floral design business, TrueVine, she’s had a ton of success with event planning and editorial shoots and has been featured on some of our favorite sites. Read on below to see her go-to dishes to serve, floral tips, tips for entertaining on a budget and more!
Describe your overall entertaining philosophy in three words?
Simple, inviting and warm.
How often do you entertain and what are your favorite types of gatherings to host?
I love a good no-pressure pot luck. It gives everyone the opportunity to feel included and make something that is near and dear to them. Usually a story comes with the dish and those are always fun to hear. I say no pressure, because I never want guests to feel like they have to go all out to bring something. Sometimes the most simple dishes (or drinks) are best to share around the table.
What’s your favorite thing about Fall entertaining?
There’s a sense of warmth and comfort that comes with the fall season. It could be the chill in the air or the kinds of food we eat, but I think it has something to do with time around the table. The hustle and bustle of summer slows down and I find myself spending more time eating with people I love. I love that about fall entertaining.
What five things do you always have on hand in case of unexpected guests or visitors?
Cheese from Trader Joe’s (the truffle cheddar will change your life), usually some sort of salad fixings, wine, flowers (of course) and some sort of baked treat.
Do you have a go-to cocktail?
I don’t! Only because Colby is a cocktail master and he loves coming up with drinks for guests. It’s sort of his party trick, so I let him go for it. If I ask him to make something for dinner, it usually has tequila, some sort of citrus, is pink-ish and maybe has some sort of floral-y element. I always feel so known when he makes something.
Favorite Fall dishes to serve?
Oh my goodness, soups. There’s a soup for every week of the season. I’m a vegetarian from Texas, so sometimes I crave the meatiest chili that Pinterest can find. I found a vegetarian chili that I LOVE and it satisfies all my Texas chili cravings. Anything to be had at Thanksgiving is also a fall favorite. Dressing (the Southern equivalent to stuffing), cranberry sauce and pecan pies are some of my absolute favorites.
What’s your favorite kind of floral centerpiece for a dinner party?
I did not see this question coming and I am not emotionally prepared to answer! I have so much love for flowers. If I am being completely honest and vulnerable here, yes, I would probably go overboard and make a centerpiece that I spent way too much time on. However, I think bud vases are best for dinner parties. They don’t take too much time, they won’t stress you out and they are just the right amount of floral for the table.
Tips for keeping your flowers alive post-party:
Change the water and make sure there are no leaves in the water. They’ll last for days!
What’s on your dinner party playlist?
Stevie Wonder, The Girl from Ipanema (classic) and “The Holiday” soundtrack.
Your go-to hostess outfit?
What it always is: jorts and a tee. What I want it to be: a sundress that I had time to throw on before you got here.
Best tip for making your guests feel welcome and relaxed?
I learned this the hard way. The best way to make your guests feel welcomed and relaxed is for YOU to be relaxed. I’ve definitely greeted guests stressed out about something in the kitchen and that’s not the way to start the evening.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to people hosting their first party or dinner?
It doesn’t have to be perfect. The best thing about that night will be how you spent it—with people you love and good conversation.
Do you have any advice for people who entertain in small spaces?
Yes! I entertain in a small space. I live in Boston at the moment, and this city apartment is not huge. We’ve had up to 20 people over for dinner before, and while it can be crowded, it is always fun. We keep a couple of folding tables and tablecloths on hand. We also do a lot of wine and cheese or appetizer nights, so we don’t have to worry about seating.
Any easy summer-entertaining tips for people on a budget?
Let people pitch in. Don’t feel obligated to cook the whole meal yourself. If a friend asks to bring something, let her!
What was your biggest entertaining fail?
This is such a hilarious story, but I’m afraid my storytelling won’t do it justice. I had just read Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread & Wine. I was feeling so inspired and challenged to be hospitable and spend time around the table, so I invited a big group of friends over for dinner. Somewhere between the street corn and the enchiladas everything went wrong. The smoke alarms were going off, it was 1,000 degrees in my apartment and my guests had just arrived. I was a stressed and sweaty mess (like, I look crazed) and everything seemed to be going wrong. Finally, dinner was ready, we were all sitting down, and I realized that I didn’t have enough forks for everyone. This meal needed forks. Luckily, I have the most gracious and understanding friends and we just laughed our way through the whole meal—fork shifts and all.