This year has been a very busy and eventful one, to say the least. We've all experienced a veritable roller coaster of emotions, and for many of us, our backbone through these highs and lows has been our family and friends. Now, with the holiday season upon us, it's finally time to celebrate them, to show gratitude for their constant support and affection. One of our favorite ways is to host a celebration in their honor. Enter Friendsgiving, a stylish spin on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner party to commemorate the special people in our lives.
To show us how to plan a memorable Friendsgiving fête, we turned to L.A.'s most stylish hostess and homewares designer, Heather Taylor of Heather Taylor Home. With the launch of her new linen rental business, Taylor invited some of her closest friends (who are also incredibly talented female entrepreneurs) for an intimate gathering at her West Hollywood home, and deliciously catered by Annie Campbell. From the tablescape to the menu, Taylor shares her top tips for crafting an unforgettable Friendsgiving.
MY DOMAINE: What are your top tips for hosting a special Friendsgiving event?
HEATHER TAYLOR: Make a plan. There's a lot of cooking involved in this particular meal, and if you're going to take it on yourself, make sure to create a schedule for the week and day of. Other Thanksgiving tips include going easy on the appetizers—the meal is pretty major. I'm a big fan of assigned seating! It avoids that confusing moment when everyone is trying to find their seat and asking you where they should go. Make it easy for yourself and your guests, and sort this out beforehand.
MD: Hosting a party for your friends can be stressful. What's your advice for creating a smooth night?
HT: My number one tip is don't stress out! It's just dinner with friends, and guests can feel when you have been stressing all day. The key is to make sure that one course isn't cooked. For example, instead of making an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert from scratch, maybe put together a killer cheese and charcuterie board for the appetizer. Or for dessert, I love serving really good ice cream with smoked sea salt caramel sauce with sliced fruit.
Working too hard and cooking all day can take away from the fun. I also love offering guests a house cocktail upon arrival. It sets a really festive mood. Lastly, lighting and music: I'm a big fan of low lights and a really good soundtrack.
MD: You had personalized menus made for the dinner. Why did you choose to do this?
HT: It's such a nice detail, don't you think? Setting the table is all about layers, and custom menus or place cards are the perfect finishing touch in my opinion. I work with this incredible Echo Park–based artist named Erica Tighe of Be a Heart She's the best. I told her about the menu and what kind of vibe I wanted, and she always translates it into something genius. I suggested we include fall motifs pulled from the menu like pomegranates and squash, and she created something so pretty that I have it up on my fridge.
MD: Why did you decide to have your event catered?
MD: Tell us about your foray into homewares/linen.
HT: I've been knitting and weaving for years and have long been collecting handmade textiles. I also love entertaining and setting a beautiful table, but I couldn't find linens I loved without traveling to some far-flung locale. This was my original motivation for launching Heather Taylor Home.
The first inkling of inspiration for the line came in 2006 while eating breakfast in Greece. The table was covered in a white crocheted lace tablecloth, which felt like the perfect mix of elegance and ease. I've been chasing that feeling ever since and aim to create it with HTH.
MD: How did the rental arm of HTH come about?
HT: When I was planning my own wedding five years ago, I couldn't find rental linens that fit my needs. I came across some beautiful options, but nothing that worked with the elegant yet relaxed look I wanted for my wedding. The flowers, plates, and menus all hit the right note, but I kept coming up short on the napkin and runner search. This was before I started Heather Taylor Home.
I ended up going to a fabric store and having runners made the week before my big day. It was a totally imperfect solution, but at the time it was the best option around. This past spring, one of my best friends was planning her wedding in Ojai and she kindly asked me to do the linens. I flashed back to my wedding planning linen debacle and a light bulb went off—Let's offer our linens for rent!
MD: When you're entertaining outside, what are some extra styling tips you can add to make it comfortable?
HT: Make sure your guests are warm enough. I usually have a basket of scarves and blankets in case people get chilly. Most importantly, citronella candles are a must. The party is over the moment people start getting bitten by mosquitos.
MD: What are your favorite flowers/greenery for the table?
HT: I always gravitate toward the classically pretty flowers like peonies, dahlias, and garden roses. I love them in very casual, monochromatic arrangements in really cool vessels, like vintage brass or ceramics. When it comes to flowers, I usually go for the showstoppers. My friends Holly and Becky of Hollyflora have the most beautiful flower shop and have taught me everything I know about putting together the best arrangements (they also did the flowers for this dinner).
MD: What makes the perfect tablescape? What goes into your personal planning/preparation?
HT: I like to find a jumping-off point and build around that. For example, maybe it's fall dinner and there are a lot of persimmons and pomegranates and squash on our menu. In that case, I love to play up the autumnal nature of the meal and do really warm and cozy fall linens (like our Gold Napkins or Plum Napkins).
Then, if the linens are on the heavier side, I like to balance it out with cool, clean plates like Heath (in the company's perfect white, called Linen). Or if the linens are more subtle, I like to have fun with the plates and go for something a little more exciting like vintage china. It’s all about finding the balance. My foolproof tips are stagger your flowers, always have candles (unscented) on the table, and when in doubt, less is more (fewer glasses, less silverware).
MD: What colors work well together? Do you stick to a certain scheme?
HT: I love contrasting colors like mixing corals and blues, or pinks and greens (our Bougainvillea Tablecloth is the perfect example of this). I also love mixing warm colors (like gold and marigold) with cool whites, like we did for this dinner.
MD: What makes the perfect Friendsgiving? what are the traditional aspects you should keep, and what should you ditch?
HT: The perfect Friendsgiving is about being with the people you love. All the linens and flowers and candles are icing on the cake.
Planning a special dinner party or event soon? Rent Heather Taylor Home linens for a stylish tablescape everyone will want to Instagram.