Thursday, July 23, 2009

Entertaining Tips from Janet Simon

New Jersey designer Janet Simon knows a lot about entertaining and sets a table with perfect aplomb. Since yesterday's post was about Wedgwood, I thought it appropriate to ask Janet for some tips on entertaining. She kindly shared with me photos of a garden luncheon that she hosted for four of her closest friends in the garden at her home, Hidden Pond Farm.

Janet said "In early June the parterre garden at Hidden Pond Farm is an outdoor room of boxwood hedges and topiary iceberg roses. The brick and slate roofed garden house is covered with climbing iceberg roses and sloping brick walls while surrounding the remainder of the garden is in full bloom with white flowering clematis vines. Four brick columns with limestone capitals support the wooden pergola. This space is the inspiration for my classical themed luncheon."

For the beautifully appointed table, Janet used a round table covered in a heavy linen summer leaf green cloth with white linen monogrammed napkins (HPF for Hidden Pond Farm). In the center of the table was a French wooden lattice white washed urn, and an 1830 English creamware compote was filled with white garden roses and dark green hydrangea leaves. Italian pottery buffet plates and hand blown goblets rounded out the look. Janet added green chintz pillows to the wrought iron chairs.

The menu included a platter of prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato with bunches of fresh basil and light oil vinaigrette. The lattice creamware bowl was filled with raspberries and fresh mint while whipped cream with lemon zest accompanied the berries. Janet also served handmade painted sugar cookies of white roses and trellis boxes monogrammed with HPF. Talk about attention to detail! The signature drink was iced tea with orange juice garnished with mint and orange slices.

When asked for a few tips on entertaining, Janet gave me the following:

1) Keep it simple. You want the luncheon to be relaxing so you can enjoy your guests' company and have a nice time.

2) Start with a natural theme. Don't over think it. The best way is to select a theme that works with your space. Choose elements about your garden or outdoor space that can be incorporated into the luncheon.

3) Repeat an element. Find an element that you can use to bring it all together. Maybe it's an architectural aspect of the garden, maybe it's the flowers. Whatever you decide, repeat that element in creative ways.

4) Don't get caught up with over-complicating the food. The food you serve should be an opportunity to have fun and should be easy to prepare. Try serving food that everyone enjoys but have fresh ingredients in abundance. If you don't have your own garden, visit your local farmers market and select items that are in season. The freshness, and the fragrance, of the local food and herbs will add character to your luncheon.

5) Have a signature drink. Maybe it's champagne; maybe it's pink lemonade; whatever your drink is, show it and serve it with pride. A cold, refreshing drink is the best way to complement the environment.

Visit Janet's website for more photos of her parties at Hidden Pond Farm.


  1. I just love how she juxtaposed fresh shades of green with black garden furniture and the red brick of the house.

  2. Love Janet's first tip - There is nothing worst than not enjoying your party because you're worried about food or drinks or anyting!

    Just keep it simple and relax!

  3. Courtney- I know, it looks great. I love the garden furniture.

  4. Erik- I'm going to keep reminding myself of that next time I entertain.

  5. This is just perfection! And her hints are great... just commonsense entertaining.

  6. Meg- So true. Why make things complicated when you don't have to!

  7. I love the pale green and white. It is so crisp. Great tips!

  8. Simple & Classic! The focus should be on the guests & wonderful, lively conversation. Thanks so much for introducing me to Janet Simon. Always great to visit with you.