One of the drawbacks of living in New York is that summertime parties are typically an indoor occasion. Thus, every year I celebrate my birthday at an NYC bar with a rooftop in hopes of somehow creating an urban outdoor entertaining experience.
Thanks to OFF! and TV Host and lifestyle and entertaining expert Katie Brown I learned a thing or two about outdoor entertaining and thanks to the Urban Garden at the James Hotel (27 Grand St; between 6th and Thompson; NYC) I also learned how to do it right here in Manhattan. In May OFF! and Katie Brown hosted a dinner party at the Urban Garden for a select group of bloggers to teach us all how to be the “Hostess with Mostess” this summer.
First, OFF! presented their newest products (pictured above): the newest version of OFF!‘s Deep Woods Dry insect repellent, a new version of their repellent in a Clip-On dispenser, a Citronella Bucket: a bug repelling candle in a fetching black and white geometric bucket and also Bug Control, a backyard/outdoor space pre-treater. All of these products can be used for one very important outdoor entertaining concern: bug control.
Then Katie Brown welcomed the group to the dinner. As her website describes her, Katie Brown loves “to cook, nest and grow,” as she does on the sixth season of her TV series, KATIE BROWN WORKSHOP, which is currently airing on public television and Create TV, and in her five books on entertaining including the new Katie Brown’s Outdoor Entertaining.
Next it was on to a dinner of delicious dishes courtesy of the Garden at David Burke Kitchen at the James Hotel NYC. The menu (pictured above) included such decadent fare as pretzel crusted crab cakes, short ribs and macaroni and cheese. Wine was poured right and left and the platters of food were overwhelmingly generous.
During dinner I chatted with other bloggers about everyone’s plans for the coming summer months. I also chatted with Katie about raising kids in the city, a common theme I’ve experienced at a lot of events lately. Everyone always wants to know how my sister and I “turned out so well” after growing up in Manhattan. Two words: strict parents.
Just when I began to grow full and get tipsy and the conversation began leveling off, Katie, the seasoned hostess, ensured the party kept its spirits high by inviting us all to make our own flower arrangements, just like the ones she made for the dinner party table (as seen in my pictures above).
That’s me in the background of the above picture. I seem to be eyeing my neighbor’s arrangement…
Throughout the evening and the flower arrangement workshop Katie offered such helpful entertaining tips as:
- always have flowers spread around the party to enhance the ambiance of a summer get-together
- set up a self-serve drink station so guests can mingle as they make their drinks (one suggestion: serve drinks in Mason jars by using cupcake liners as lids in place of the standard tin top and sticking a straw through the paper)
- give guests a take home gift to remind them of the party’s fun times (one suggestion: if you have a garden party, sent guests home with seeds to start their own garden)
The stunning arrangement above is my finished floral design. I’m a natural, no? Frankly, the materials Katie provided would make anyone a natural as all of the bloggers excellent arrangements showed. Further proof that designing a beautiful dinner party is really something any of us can master no matter where you reside.
Have a wonderful summer everyone!
For more on OFF! please visit their website here.
To read more about Katie Brown, go to her website.
And to dine at the Garden at David Burke Kitchen call 212-201-9119 for reservations.