Date: May 3, 2021 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
French Fête: As we ease back into entertaining, Jessie Gillham of Festive Haus takes inspiration from abroad for a spring affair that can be scaled to any size
In a time where we are beginning to invite loved ones back into our homes and share in the simple pleasures of hosting friends, party planner Jessie Gillham (@thefestivehaus) is all about enjoying the moment. “I think we all appreciate life and the opportunity to gather together a little more,” she says. Running with this thought, Jessie is sharing ideas for a French-inspired brunch that will allow you to focus on what truly matters—your guests. “I love how the French have mastered the art of joie de vivre, and entertaining in the morning is a great way to capture this idea because you don’t have the pressure of a formal dinner. It allows you to slow down and take it all in,” she says. To this point, “I didn’t want anything that wasn’t relatable or that was too complicated,” she adds, noting the flowers were from a local florist’s cooler and the food was pre-prepared from a local grocer. “I always say the host sets the tone. If the host is having fun, the guests will, too, so make it easy on yourself,” says the planner, who also creates and sells themed charcuterie boards.
Set amidst the backdrop of Jessie’s cousin Elise Shea’s living room, two or 10 guests could linger over coffee and pastries or share stories from the past year while sipping champagne and eating fruit. “Elise often helps friends with home styling and holiday decorating,” Jessie says. “Her house is such a welcoming place, and after a year of being at home, it can be refreshing to see spaces used in a new light,” she notes, adding that guests often enjoy gathering in a room other than the kitchen. The location also adds to the relaxed, unhurried theme. “Brunch is not supposed to feel rushed; it can start at 9 and go until 4,” Jessie says.
Tier of Treats
Morning gatherings allow little time for preparation. In an effort to keep the brunch simple and easy, Jessie picked up all the food the day before. “If your grocery cart is colorful, your table will be beautiful,” Jessie says, noting the mix of seasonal produce and pastries that reveal the fruit found inside.
The Best of Both Worlds
Rather than a kitchen counter or bar area, Jessie opted to use a window seat as an unexpected drink station, keeping beverages close to the living room setting. Guests can choose to sip champagne from glass coupes or enjoy a cup of coffee from the French press. Potted plants and cut stems bring color to the scene.
“More than ever, people want to celebrate life and enjoy each other’s company.”
—Jessie Gillham, Festive Haus
4 Ways to Set the Scene
1 // Consider furniture placement
If you’re using an area of your home where you don’t typically entertain, be mindful of creating conversation areas, making room for walkways, and ensuring guests have plenty of resting places for plates and drinks.
2 // Light the room
Think about the time of day and light your space accordingly. “If it’s morning, make sure all the blinds and curtains are open to fill the room with light. If you’re hosting a nighttime gathering, dim the lights and rely on lamps,” Jessie says.
3 // Create a playlist
“Music is a must; it sets the mood for any party,” Jessie says. For this brunch, she recommends a low-key jazz soundtrack playing in the background.
4 // Don’t skimp on flowers
“Take stock of what’s blooming in your yard and cut from there first,” the party planner says. Keep it simple by filling in with finds from your florist’s cooler or your local grocery store.