Did you know that when I was writing Inspired Gatherings I told my husband ‘this could be the cover shot’ at least a dozen times?
I did. He laughs about it now because as we looked through the pages- there were probably 5 or 6 photos I thought that about.
Interesting enough- the one that did is one of my favorite shoots in the book. And it was one that I worked on somewhat last minute. I didn’t have a plan to shoot anything specific that weekend, but was inspired when I found that antique table and I had a lemon cake in the house- and a few containers of blooms and so- decided to jump in and style it and see what happened.
Which you know … sometimes those types of photo shoots are THE BEST. They are really inspired by being inspired. They are this and that and just in the moment with what you are working with. And I have found that is one of the key things when styling something and shooting photos. It isn’t the best laid out and well planned stylings that are always the ones that create the most magic.
So today we are breaking down the cover photo and I am sharing a few tips that are perfect for holiday entertaining.
The back 40.
The path on the way to the barn that is covered in blackberries and surrounded by lots of trees. It became THE spot that I was able to cart that little table to by myself. (it is oak and heavier than it looks) and when I set it down to rest for a moment- I knew it was a perfect spot. Or I was tired. Maybe both. haha. But it actually has stayed there so I am thinking it was a perfect spot. 🙂
After I set it down, I looked towards the barn and started getting some ideas. The twinkle lights in the background. The chandelier through the open doors to the barn. The apple tree just next to the table and those towering old growth cedar trees creating a cozy backdrop just beyond. I kind of got that ‘spark’ that comes when I see something I want to grab a photo of. And so, a few thrift store chairs & elements moved on up and I started to play a bit.
Entertaining Tip: hink Outside the box & outside for holiday entertaining. Dining in the fresh air is perfect for this strange year where we aren’t supposed to be too close.
On the table
Favorite dishes. Vintage stemware from the thrift store. Gold flatware tied with velvet ribbon and some fruit from kitchen were pretty perfect for the overall mood and ambiance of the setting.
Tip: When creating a simple and beautiful natural centerpiece- think fresh and use something from the kitchen or garden. Look for seasonal fruits – Pomegranates, oranges and persimmons are perfect for holiday tables.
These peaches were on repeat last summer- so delicious. And so a handful of those along with fresh figs and plums were talking to me- and they were perfect.
I had a couple of buckets of random flowers leftover from another project that were mixed and mingling and being enjoyed in the house. I grabbed a few of the different elements- garden roses, craspedia, protea – and mixed them with fresh greens that were in the yard.
We are lucky that we have quite a variety of fresh ground cover like ferns, wild grasses and berries growing on our acreage- which makes finding suitable greens much easier.
Entertaining Tip: Forage from the yard if you have things that will work- think magnolia & evergreens. And then bring some of those grocery store flowers home to mix in for a unique arrangement that doesn’t break the bank.
Keep it a bit ‘wonky’
Something you might notice- the arrangement is a tad on the wonky side. Something you might not know- is that I created it just like that.
I didn’t want something that was ‘perfect’ or too polished and pretty. I wanted wild and natural- a bit on the edge and something that spoke volumes without saying anything on the table- but that also let the other elements shine.
This arrangement with those full branches and flowers spilling out and falling to the sides created an abundant full bouquet with presence- but that also had muted natural colors that created a perfect backdrop to let the rosy tones of the peaches, the gilded beauty of the glasses and the cake take more of center stage.
Entertaining Tip: Place your arrangement at the end of the table. This allows ample room for things on the table without the flowers getting in the way of conversation.
A simple lemon cake with delicious frosting… I topped it with blueberries, figs and sprigs of rosemary as the embellishments. And actually this cake has another unique secret to create it- I will share more about that and a recipe in an upcoming video.
But one thing that isn’t a secret is how delicious it is – or how beautiful it looks on the table. I chose a wood slice plate to serve it on- and love how that natural layer underneath makes the cake feel even more special.
Entertaining Tip: Create a beautiful dessert for the table that is as delicious as it is pretty to look at. For the holidays- get those pie crust cutters out and create a detailed crust or pretty embellishment on top.
The Cover Shot
All those on the table elements together- along with twinkle lights and the invitation in the backdrop to wander into the barn for a closer look. This is the photo I thought would make the cover of this styling. It ticked all the boxes on what I love- all the ambiance- all the charm- all the I just want to sit down and soak it up right now.
But it didn’t win top spot. Why?
I have learned that covers are a bit hard sometimes. They have to check all those boxes that I mentioned above AND they have to lend themselves to text and making sure that stands out. This photo- while it was perfect in so many ways- had a bit too much busy in the background for the cover as it was.
So which one earned that special honor?
The close up of the view looking the opposite direction.
And actually I LOVE how this one turned out. It ticks all the boxes of what I love- ambiance, flowers, charm and everything sprinkled with magic- AND it allows the title to stand out beautifully.
It is also perfect for gifting to your fellow entertaining and inspired gatherings friends.
We are doing a small family Thanksgiving early here at the house in the backyard. I will share just how we set everything up and some more tips and recipes soon.
Happy Friday all.