I love a reason to celebrate, and my birthday falls in June, which is usually a month of perfect summer weather that’s neither too hot nor too humid. This year, with the pandemic not quite over, our garden was the perfect venue. When we started considering a celebration in the spring, it was not clear if travel would be an option this summer. In lieu of the birthday trip I had my heart set on, my husband, Mike, graciously suggested he host a party for me instead.
Luckily for Mike, he knew I would take the design reigns and create an environment that supported our theme. He understands the important details—festive music, delicious food, fun drinks, and lovely invitations to the people I hold near. However, the one element I could not give up was the visual presentation.
A couple of years ago, we went on a Moroccan holiday, and it completely transformed us. One of my favorite places we visited in Marrakesh was the Majorelle Gardens adjacent to Yves Saint Laurent’s former home. They are lush and otherworldly and inspired our party theme. I created a setting brimming with dynamic colors in the prettiest bold hues, patterns that bring movement and life to the space, and fashion that shows personality, style, and relevance to the theme. I wanted all those pieces to make their appearances at the gathering where friends and family would congregate to share a happy celebration.
Design is an integral part of my existence, and whether it’s for a home or a party, I love creating an experience that affects people and forms memories. For this party that would be held outdoors, weather permitting, I applied principles similar to those I use in a room.
Multiple Seating Areas.
Our outdoor furniture can withstand the elements and sits on the patio for everyday living. If the weather on party day is scheduled for gorgeousness, pull some of your indoor favorites outside. In this case, I added a pair of wicker peacock chairs to create a Marrakesh-inspired place where a pair could enjoy a cocktail and conversation. Here, I am catching up with my friend, Cathy, who came for the weekend to Des Moines from North Carolina. The chairs flank a blue-and-white ceramic stool and sit atop a colorful hooked rug I bought in Morocco. Add a fun pouf, and I’m a happy girl. These patterned beauties are also extra spots to perch.
It’s hard to go anywhere without taking a picture. I thought our guests might be dressed in wonderfully colorful dresses and caftans, so I wanted to provide a place that would frame them beautifully. Here, an old iron trellis created by my friends at Wildflower events was adorned with lights, flowers, and lanterns.
It’s common to have a signature cocktail or favor, but for this evening, I added a signature pattern to add visual stimulation. An oversize ikat textile in delicious purple, yellow, and magenta was used for all the tablecloths. Since there were multiple tables—one for dining, one for drinks, and a couple for the buffets—the color and pattern saturated our garden with joy.
There’s just nothing so beautiful as an arrangement of flowers in June. Every vessel provides an opportunity for creativity, and I always look forward to what my dear friend Maya at Wildflower creates for parties. Since it was my birthday, she incorporated all my favorites: hydrangeas, peonies, and some tropical flamingo flowers that nod to the Majorelle Gardens.
People sometimes shy away from themed parties thinking that they might feel childish. But a theme adds a purpose and consistency to a party. Just think in simple terms and focus on places where you can naturally support the style of the party. At the drinks table, votive holders, both textured and smooth, flicker light in colorful magenta and blue. Tallboy glasses surprise with a shocking chartreuse pattern. Supplement with little bowls in patterns that emulate ikat or large candle holders that are pierced with a design with Moorish sensibilities.
Baskets are wonderful additions to a decorative scheme because they add volume. For my party, I didn’t want everyday baskets in natural tones but ones that were bright and bold. These lidded Moroccan bread baskets in pink and green are pieces I brought back from the souks of Marrakesh.
This year, the excitement of a birthday party has the same cachet as ones that have children beaming with excitement weeks in advance. But this birthday was about life and love and all being together in a beautiful setting. It was a magical evening for me and for the people whom I cherish, and I can’t wait for a reason to host a party again.