Bryan Rafanelli’s Fresh Ideas for Spring Entertaining

The event designer offers up his tips for party planning this season, with ideas for decor, catering, and more.

By Michele Laufik April 18, 2018, 7:31 AM EDT

To produce an airy feel, Rafanelli says to keep the tableware white or light colored, which will help draw attention to the florals and plants.

Photo: Courtesy of Bryan Rafanelli

With warmer weather in the upcoming forecast across much of North America, more benefits, fund-raisers, and parties are popping up on the social calendar. To make the most of hosting during the spring season, event planner and designer Bryan Rafanelli shared with us some entertaining tips—from food to florals to decor—along with tried-and-true advice and fresh ideas.

Book a Greenhouse
To celebrate the season’s new blooms, Rafanelli recommends using a garden nursery with greenhouses when hosting a dinner party. “Create a spring haven inside a greenhouse with crisp seasonal florals and plants for a lush environment that envelops your guests in warmth,“ he says. “Set the scene with an abundance of bulb flowers down the center of the table, sprinkled with candlelight. Don’t be afraid to use fresh fruits and spring vegetables as decor, too. Serve signature fresh cocktails garnished with bright and happy edible flowers. Send guests home with bags of your favorite floral seeds to inspire new beginnings.”

In terms of sourcing flowers for an event, he also urges hosts to use local vendors to ensure the blooms are always fresh. Plus, to produce an airy feel, keep the tableware white or light colored, which will help draw attention to the florals and plants.

Get Starry Eyed
For a twist of a full moon fete, Rafanelli suggests asking guests to attend an event as their favorite astrological character, such as the ram, bull, lion, or even Aquarius water. The idea is inspired by the iconic surrealist balls that French socialite Marie-Helene de Rothschild was famous for. “Serve exotic tiki concoctions with fanciful garnishes. Decorate with colorful and painted tropical flora; dip palms in color and glitter and use tons and tons of candlelight.”

But when it comes to designing event menus, he says to keep things simple. “One of the great things about entertaining in the spring is that you can always add fresh greenery as a garnish to any dish to create a wow factor.”

Play Ball
With baseball season in full swing, Rafanelli suggests ordering custom jerseys for a sports-theme party or asking your guests to rep their favorite team’s gear. “You can serve ballpark food and beverages in baseball-painted mason jars. Create centerpieces with glass vases filled with crackerjacks, peanuts, and baseballs.”

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