La Petite Jaune Fleur

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Designing for holiday parties excerpt from Smithers-Oasis

In today’s post, Smithers-Oasis is a guest blogger who has written about designing for holiday parties. I hope you enjoy!

Smithers-Oasis North America Design Director Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI, is a speaker and author known for her “edutaining” floral design tips and Southern charm. She has four decades of design experience, is past president of AIFD and lives in Carrollton, Georgia. 

When it comes to designing impressive flowers for holidays parties, never underestimate the energizing power of red. On-trend shades of exotic hot reds are slated to intensify in 2017. Follow the bold lead of fashion and use red to create the dramatic.

A fashionable client once commissioned floral designers Carolyn Shepard AIFD and the late Randy Baehre AIFD of Carolyn Shepard Wedding and Event Design to dress a party in red inside a tent in the client’s backyard.

“This was a party that our client threw for her friend who owns a local women’s couture clothing store in celebration of the store’s anniversary,” says Carolyn. “Forty guests. Members of the national fashion press were in attendance. Vogue. Vanity Fair. WWDaily (Women’s Wear Daily), etc.”

The famous red room


“Our client wanted the party to have the same feeling as Diana Vreeland’s red room,” explains Carolyn. The late Vreeland wanted her apartment “… to be a garden, but it had to be a garden in hell.”

According to a 1975 Architectural Digest article about the apartment, “But quite aside from the flamboyant scarlet-flowered cotton of the walls and curtains of the living room, there is undeniably an abundance of the color red: red carpets, red-lacquered doors, closet linings, and picture frames.”

While the  decor may seem dramatic, so was the ‘red room’ Carolyn and Randy created in the party tent where they replicated Vreeland’s legendary style.

Carolyn and Randy used a magical monochromatic mix of roses, garden roses, amaryllis, ranunculus, carnations, gerbera daisies and tulips in varied shades of red. Mountain laurel, bittersweet and hydrangea were used to base the copious arrangements. Orchids, lilies, mini callas, berries, hypericum, gladiolus, carnations, dahlias, anemone, alstroemeria, celosia, amaranth and red aspidistra leaves were also used.

Een the ceiling was incorporated into the decorated space. says Carolyn. “We draped the ceiling, walls and tables in different shades of red, black cherry and garnet.” In addition, they literally rolled out the red carpet for guests by carpeting the entire floor in red.

“Randy designed Bittersweet and mountain laurel chandeliers that were suspended above the guest table with hanging candles,” Carolyn explains. This created an intimate dining space within the lofty white tent.

Sleek ivory candles were placed  in elegant silver candlesticks amongst round flower bouquets in and beneath elongated silver trumpets and a flow of flickering ivory votive candles highlighted the dark-hued tablescape.

Red Chiavari chairs upholstered in leopard print added to the wild and natural vibe of the intensely decorated table.


Flowers have the ability to give instant pleasure to a recipient in a way that few things in life can. When planning an event or wedding, think

outside of the box. This event was extravagant but you can plan something just as amazing no matter if it is big or small.

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