Date: November 1, 2022 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek |
JoBeth McElhanon of Lilias & Olive finds sweetness in life’s transitions with a fine-feathered shindig
For JoBeth McElhanon, event designer and owner of Lilias & Olive, there’s no reason too small to gather with loved ones. And after watching a friend send her youngest of four to college, she realized the empty nest was one such milestone to celebrate. “For a lot of my friends it’s a bittersweet moment,” JoBeth says. “They’re excited about what the future holds, but it’s tinged with sadness. That makes it a good rallying point for friends.”
In the case of this particular friend, Kendra Vondran, JoBeth wanted to create an inspired dinner party where Kendra could celebrate this new season of life with others. Here, she sets the scene at the Vondrans’ house on Lake Hamilton. The location is apt as other natural elements are woven into the design, all tied to the empty-nest concept. Vintage-inspired bird prints serving as place cards position this imagery at the forefront, and earthy textures such as rattan, leather, and bamboo bring the outdoors in. “I kept the colors soft, muted, and fallish with a touch of blue tied in,” the designer says, noting the hue is Kendra’s favorite. “I just love the idea of that blue-and-white stripe for the tablecloth because it’s perfect for the lake, but it’s an unexpected fall color.”
For the floral arrangements, Tipton & Hurst filled JoBeth’s containers with roses, ‘Fall Sunset’ chrysanthemums, antique hydrangeas, and ‘After Dark’ peppermint willow, which gives the shape an organic feel befitting the setting. The result is a thoughtful gathering that’s easy to replicate, whether you’re hosting a girls night in or a holiday meal when the kids come home. “It’s important to find these little milestone moments to cheer for each other,” she says, “no matter the occasion.” Keep reading for JoBeth’s empty-nester take on the Jungle Bird cocktail.
For the Birds
Napkins made from a floral Liberty of London fabric provided early direction in the color palette. For dinnerware, JoBeth used Mottahedeh’s orange “Sacred Bird & Butterfly” and “Blue Canton” patterns, both of which feature the evening’s signature animal motif. “It’s a detail that all goes together but you have to look for it,” she says. “Those extra touches are what make people feel cozy and cared for. We try to bring that to any occasion, whether it’s for six friends or 100.” Rattan chargers, leather placemats, vintage-look flatware, and tortoise shell glass goblets complete the look.
“It’s important to find these little milestone moments to cheer for each other, no matter the occasion.”
—JoBeth McElhanon, Lilias & Olive
Oatmeal creme pies from Hot Springs’s popular Cafe 1217 play into the high-low mix of the tabletop while calling to mind lunch boxes packed in years gone by.
1 ½ ounces bourbon
1 ½ ounces no-sugar-added pineapple juice
¾ ounce Amaro Montenegro
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce lime juice
lime and pineapple
slices, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice and serve on the rocks garnished with slices of lime and pineapple.
Floral design Tipton & Hurst Paper goods By Invitation Only Rentals My China Place