The Busy Philadelphian’s No-Sweat Entertaining Guide

The painstakingly prepped dinner party is no more. In its place: a streamlined, tricked-out gathering that comes together in a snap thanks to a roster of cool local shops and pros.

The in-house design team at Terrain can transform even the most pedestrian dining room into a festive, swoon-worthy oasis. | Photography by Jauhien Sasnou

The in-house design team at Terrain can transform even the most pedestrian dining room into a festive, swoon-worthy oasis. | Photography by Jauhien Sasnou

For Dinnerware: Scarlett Alley

Supplement your existing tableware arsenal at this Old City boutique, which stocks a comprehensive assortment of table necessities ranging from tortoiseshell flatware and eclectic glasses to serving dishes and dessert stands. They even have a surprisingly style-forward selection of melamine, that virtually unbreakable material ideal for raucous guests or rambunctious little ones.

For Food: The Personal Chef Co.

If your kitchen know-how is nonexistent, tap this Bryn Mawr-based fleet of personal chefs to furnish your spread. Look over the seasonal dining menus, select your courses, and, come party day, a practiced chef arrives armed with ingredients and equipment, ready to prepare a multi-course dinner (starting at $150 per person). Tip: Get the butternut squash ravioli with fried sage to make your home smell dreamy. For the only slightly culinary-impaired, Glenside’s farm-to-table catering company Seedling and Sage will assemble expertly styled cheese plates and hors d’oeuvres (think tiny cones of ahi tuna, and flank steak on mini baguettes) to kick off your party (starting at $25 per person).

For Booze: Spirit Forward

Sure, you can serve casual nightcaps from your bar cart. Or you can pull out all the stops and treat your guests to speakeasy-worthy cocktails courtesy of lauded A.Bar bartender Dan Hamm. His roving spirits outfit will concoct signature cocktail pairings for each course of your dinner, like a sherry and rum sip that combines raw sugar, citrus and fresh berries. (The on-staff graphic designer will create and print a gorgeous menu, too.) Hamm can also whip up party-friendly vats of herb-y seasonal punch and rum-tinged eggnog that put store-bought versions to shame. Starting at $1,500.

For Decor: Design by Terrain

Elevate your affair from everyday dinner to full-on fête by enlisting Terrain’s in-house design team to outfit your dining room. For the woefully unprepared, they’ll dispatch a pro to deck out your space with stylish accoutrements (an autumnal urn! Succulent-dotted centerpieces!). Industrious entertainers, meanwhile, can sleuth out the garden shop’s entertaining wares and decorate on their own. Starting at $2,500.


Looking for the Ultimate Hostess Gift?

Suede Candles | Photo courtesy Zoet

Suede Candle | Photo courtesy Zoet Bathlatier

Leave the cheese ball to the gift-giving novice. The best way to earn a repeat invite is with a candle from Malvern-based apothecary Zoet Bathlatier. With notes of freshly cut wood, fir needles, patchouli and sandalwood, the Suede candle ($34), which boasts a 65-hour burn time, is the fragrance embodiment of the season.

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s November 2016 issue.


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