12 Valentine's Day Entertaining Tips From a Party Pro

When we think of romantic entertaining spaces, there's one name that comes to mind: Preston Bailey. The acclaimed event designer and wedding planner (whose clients include Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, and Catherine Zeta-Jones) is celebrated for his lush, theatrical environments that can only be described as dream-like. In hopes of avoiding the red-rose bouquet rut this Valentine's Day, we asked the share his tips for romantic entertaining. With ideas for flowers, lighting, decor, and food and drinks, this list is bound to inspire a picture-perfect holiday.


pb1 Have a bowl of gardenias in the bathroom. This will be a welcome scent and surprise to guests in an unexpected location. One of the most romantic flowers besides roses are orchids. If you are one to be a bit playful, give her a wrist corsage of an orchid.  This would remind her of the romance from prom night. Ah, nostalgia! White Orchid and Rose Corsage, $42, Flower Shopping
pb2 ? Nothing says romance like candle light. Here is a simple trick: buy 30 votives, turn off all your lights, and have a romantic candle-lit dinner. The soft glow of the candles will dazzle you. ? Another lighting tip is to change your light bulbs to a romantic color. Colored light bulbs are easily available in a lighting or hardware store and can instantly change the mood and tone of an environment. Modern Glass Votive, $1, World Market
pb3 ? Surprise your guests at the entrance. Greet your love ones with a wonderful and selection of chocolates on a silver tray the moment they walk in. ? Scent is very important. You might want to get a bottle of her favorite perfume and spray the room before she arrives. Long Antique-finish Mirror Tray, $80, Zara Home
pb4 ? The one fruit that says "romance" is grapes. Just ask Cleopatra and Marc Antony! Have an oversize bowl of a selection of grapes as your centerpiece. ? If you are serving a three-course dinner, invent a special menu card. For each course, make up some silly romantic sentence to name the dish. Pinch Large Bowl, $15, CB2
What romantic decorating ideas do you have to share? Let us know in the comments. For more Valentine's Day inspiration and some amazing giveaways, visit our Valentine's Day headquarters!   _header Photographs: Courtesy of Preston Bailey -- By Julia Millay Walsh