Debi Lilly Can Even Style Mother Nature.

Lucky US. We often hear from our clients that we’re so lucky to be surrounded by delicious food every day at Entertaining Company.  It’s true.  We are!

What really charms us, however, is that we are constantly surrounded by so many amazing and talented event specialists in our fair city. There is always someone amazing to learn from or be inspired by.

And so we’ve decided to use One World Portfolio to shine a bright light on some of the event specialists who are impressing us right now.

This month, Debi Lilly tells us about her favorite styling tips for outdoor entertaining.

Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event

EC: What are you forecasting as the most popular outdoor party “theme” for the summer of 2013?

DL: Great Gatsby Garden Parties are white hot – we have already thrown two – and the movie isn’t even out until May 10th.

EC: Any trending color or fabric combinations?

DL: Vintage, vintage – did I mention vintage?  Soft, sorbet colored gauzy beaded laces, metallic embroidery, cotton candy colored florals, summery gingham, just to name a few favorites.

EC: Any trending outdoor lighting solutions?

DL: Nothing says “party” like stringing lights overhead across your patio, garden, or porch.  Grab and go bistro or globe lights (old fashioned strung bulbs) are inexpensive ($12 for 25 lights on a string!) and add instant enchanted garden when criss crossed across your backyard.

EC: What’s the most clever outdoor entertaining idea that you’ve seen – or more likely – come up with this year!?

DL: My favorite stylist secret – move your upholstered sofa, chairs, overstuffed pillows and coffee table right outside into the garden.  Its adds ambiance and charm within minutes, and creates a sudden conversation focal point for guests during the party.

EC: What’s your favorite way to serve food outdoors?

DL: My party tip is to set a self serve, colorful bar with a pair of oversize apothecary drinking jars.   Fill each with summertime cocktails, like Champagne, St Germain, Rosemary and Raspberries in one, and Tequila, Beer, Limeade, Ginger Beer, and sliced key limes in the second.

Set a savory buffet with oversize wheels of Brie, Pecorino, and Goat Cheese, glass jars of spiced jams and honeys (I love Inna Jams, sold at A Perfect Event), tapenades, charcuterie, grilled shrimp, sausages and vegetables, berries, figs, grapes, bread sticks, toasts,  and more.  It creates an edible centerpiece guests love to taste, and looks just as lovely all the while.

A Paris Patisserie makes a beautiful petite sweets bar, using tiny bite size desserts that can take a little heat and humidity, like berry lollipops, whoopie pies, cupcakes, brownies, lemon squares, macarons.  Pass sorbet sparklers for a fun, interactive dessert – a scoop of sorbet in a small juice glass, with prosecco poured on top.

EC: What are your favorite fixes for classic outdoor entertaining conundrums?

How do you prepare, or outfit, your guests who are wearing high heels when you’re throwing a party in the sand or grass?

DL: I love to share the party location on the invitation – with a nod to attire – ie: Garden Party shoes required – or Wear your best beach dancing shoes!

Rain or Shine?  What’s the best way to prepare for weather that may not cooperate?

DL: Always, always have a plan b – if foul weather comes – work out a plan in advance to move inside, and fill the house with flowers, sunshiney music (Colbie Caillat, Eric Hutchinson) happiness instead.

The combination of heat/sun can yield unexpected results.  Any recommended troubleshooting??

DL: Nothing, and I repeat, nothing, for party decor or menus is happy in heat and sun.  Make sure to plan the event flow, with tables, flowers, bar and buffets in constant shade.  If needed, rent oversize patio umbrellas to create instant shade for the party.  These add function and fashion – creating beautiful garden romance throughout the space.