To love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth. So this year on Valentine's Day, celebrate those you hold dear by honoring them with a soiree that is so romantic and glamorous it will make their hearts jump.
Sensational stations: I'm crazy about formal dinner parties because I adore beautifully set tables and lingering at the table for hours, enjoying the company of good friends. But if you'd like to invite more friends to your Valentine's Day party than your table can hold, or if you'd like guests to mix and mingle throughout the event, create several serving stations throughout your home.
For instance, I like to greet guests at the door with a cocktail, so I place a butler's cart in my foyer to hold drink fixings and stemware. Why not do the same thing at your party? Top a cart or small table with a silver or crystal punch bowl filled with ice and bubbly, like champagne or prosecco. Place a silver tray next to your stylish ice bucket to hold champagne flutes.
Serve savory appetizers on your dining-room table. On the coffee table in your living room, create a tempting display with dessert servers in all heights, each one filled with decadent sweets. Use a side table or desk in your family room to hold red wine, imported cheeses and slices of artisan breads.
Do it up big: Valentine's isn't complete without fresh flowers. So create a show-stopping bouquet for your entry table, dining-room table or buffet. Fill a black iron urn with flowers like white stargazer lilies, hydrangeas, red berries, red roses and winter greens. Then fill silver cups with compact bouquets of red rose buds, and tuck them into displays throughout your home.
Bring out your nicest silver and crystal serving pieces and dishes to create food presentations that are second to none. On your dining-room table or at each food station, harness the power of risers to elevate your tasty treats to new levels. For a fetching dessert presentation, place a coconut-dusted white meringue cake atop a glass cake plate. Next to it, display vanilla cupcakes and white chocolate-covered cookies on different-sized tall glass risers covered with cloches. Or fill a trio of apothecary jars with candies like white gumdrops, red-hots or conversation hearts.
Finish off your party decor by bringing in loads of sparkling accents and candlelight. Festoon your front porch with lanterns outfitted with battery-operated pillar candles. Sprinkle votives throughout all your food displays. Add silver candelabras and mercury-glass candlesticks to your tables. Use silver gazing balls to give displays added shimmer and shine.
Utilize your outdoor space: When you throw a party, it seems like there's never enough room in the refrigerator to hold all the food and beverages. So a few years ago, I solved this dilemma by putting chilled foods on my screened porch when I entertained during the winter, arranging them beautifully so they looked lovely while they waited to be used.
If you live in a cold climate, utilize your outdoor space during your Valentine's Day party, creating a functional and stylish display just outside the window that guests will enjoy looking at. Give your porch a quick cleanup, then cover your outdoor table with a white linen cloth. Then make the table display a thing of art, topping it with a large cachepot filled with bottles of bubbly, beer, water or soda. Put desserts that require refrigeration on cake plates and risers, protecting them with glass cloches. For added fun, illuminate your chilly display with strands of white lights, or use a large lantern, filled with a battery-operated candle, as your centerpiece.
Mary Carol Garrity is the proprietor of three successful home-furnishings stores and is the author of several best-selling books on home decorating. Write her at email@example.com.