November 26, 2018

Entertaining Secrets from the Pros + a Gift

When I received an invite from friend Michael Devine, asking if I would be his guest at his speaking engagement, it was an instant yes!

Michael Devine
-Hand painted bespoke Textile Designer
-Hand painted dinnerware
-Home Accessory designer
-Interior designer
-Entertainer Extraordinaire

A memorable weekend in upstate New York, years ago, was spent at the home of Eddie Ross and Jaithan Kochar. As we were decorating for the party they clued me in on who was coming, who I might enjoy in particular,  and a few, maybe not as much. At the top of the list was Michael Devine and his partner Thomas Burak, himself a renown Interior Designer. They had it right, an instant click, I FELL IN LOVE WITH THEM!

The next day I was invited to their country home for lunch. This pavilion had a tented interior fabric, Michael's of course. Great cooks the luncheon was beautifully presented and delicious. I felt like a princess. Michael "poo poos" that, to me however it remains a magical day in my memories.
-Rome born, world renown interior Designer
-House Beautiful's,  A List Masterclass
-Renown Entertainer
-Product Developer
-Textile Designer
- Home and Fashion Designer

Isn't she gorgeous! Living in Chicago, she seemed so friendly and approachable
From MICHAEL .......
- Set the table & elsewhere with a single color flower en masse
-Never allow guests to clean unless it's an "All Participate" party
-Never try a new recipe
-Vintage Damask napkins are plentiful and inexpensive. Dye them a fun color
-January is a great month to entertain
-Ignore the trend of placing napkins under plates, dangerous!
-Make certain your place settings are correct, often magazines are incorrect, for instance the teaspoon only comes out with the coffee service
-Host a garden party

-Feed all the senses
-Creates a play list starting slow & building. Favorites include Rap, Earth Wind & Fire, and  Ella Fitzgerald.....always unexpected
-Never sets a buffet, not in her Italian heritage
-Loves to provide gifts at her place settings, Books and Salt Cellars are favorites
-Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday parties are ideal, no one stays too long
-At desert, every man moves 3 seats to the right to mix up the conversations
-The best parties have a mix of people; the graffiti artist next to the banker.......
-Play a game, placing questions in a bowl that passes around the table. Examples include; how did you meet your significant other, tell us about your first kiss.......
-Host parties frequently, even pizza, wine & candlelight makes for a great time
-Edits her rooms seasonally. Removes all accessories, and ads back a select few and seasonal favorites.

Alessandra's party hosted at a private Chicago Club. See the figures? She always adds a touch of whimsy!
                                                   BEST DINNERWARE

Nantucket Basket by Wedgewood

Vienne by Baccarat
 Tahiti by Buccellati

                                               BEST SOAP FOR THE  POWDER ROOM

Of course.......

Other thoughts in their conversations........

*Try a Progressive Dinner, each house representing a different country (love this!)

*As a guest, know when to leave

*If hosting a large party, and instead of a buffet, set up tables thru-out the house, even the master bedroom.  (I went to such a party once and was seated in the Master, it was interesting & intimate.)

*Place cards are always appreciated by your guests

Speaking of which is this enchanting company........every seating at the event had a packet of place cards. I fell in love, yes, again, and contacted this small family business to see if they would like to participate in this post.


Being a small family based business myself, I discovered that 'Mr P's' was likewise. Meet Karen Suen-Cooper and Martin Cooper. Graduates of the Parsons School of Design they each entered the world of design via Burberry & luxury brand Kieselstein-Cord, now residing in NYC
Seeking respite in their Hudson River Valley 1790's farmhouse, where they love to entertain in their black-lacquer dining room. 
They co-founded Mr. P's to facilitate the "goodness of gathering-joy" derived from the shared ritual of the meal.
What better way to make your guests center stage than to make a place for every name?
Karen and Martin invented the illustrated place card with a curio image becoming the theatre of the dining table and sparking conversation. The option of digital calligraphy on the back completes the set.

I invite you to enjoy their website Mr. P's place cards.
View the many options and come back to comment on your favorite. Randomly one person will receive a set of your choice.
Place an order and receive a 10% discount with the code WELCOME 2018

ps.....those lovely little stands are available too!

                                              Enjoy the entertaining season!



  1. This is one of my favorite posts of yours--and that's saying something! Love the thoughtful hints on entertaining, especially the suggestions about the month of January. As for the placecards, I'm mad for them! I'm going to take advantage of their custom design service for my next party.
    Happy Holidays, Debra, and thanks for sharing these lovely ideas!

  2. Happy Holidays Debra,

    Thank you for sharing these fabulous tips! I love the idea of a party that has tables in every room! That sounds so cool.

    As for these place cards, they are beautiful! I love them all. I cannot wait to explore their web site further.

    Have a great week Debra!

  3. This sounds like a dream day with favorite designers! So many great entertaining tips for holiday entertaining. Love the idea of gifts at each place setting, especially the book idea :). Happy Wednesday, sweet friend!


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