On the Job

Tablescapes and Festivity Planning Made Easy

29 December 2021 By Kylie O'Brien
yacht tablesetting

Kylie O’Brien has worked on some of the world’s most magnificent vessels with amazing people for more than 13 years. A graduate of The Australian College of Applied Psychology, she is the author of Crew Wanted, The Stewardess Bible, The Chief Stewardess Bible, The Inside Job, and has been a monthly contributor to Dockwalk magazine for more than five years.

“When a guest sits down, there should be something beautiful and inspiring to look at.”  — Annie Falk, author

The talescape is more than just setting the table. A beautiful table will set the mood for the evening, beckoning the guest to savour every bite.

Every superyacht stew knows that festivities, event planning, and tablescapes go hand in hand. There are some subtle differences to simply setting a table at home or in a hired venue: space limitations, guest safety considerations, hiring the right extra staff that can deliver superyacht service, and most importantly, how to keep the flow of Dom Perignon Champagne chilled to the right temperature. Let’s get back to basics:

Choose Your Tablescaping

Any tablescape theme can be extended to the buffet and waiter’s station. As with all things related to the smooth running of superyacht operations, planning and communication are at the top of the list to pulling off a successful event. Firstly, consider what type of event it is. Is it a romantic dinner for two, a hosted party at the Monaco Grand Prix, or somewhere in between?

Setting the Scene

Luckily for the interior team, the foundations of any celebratory event are the same. Starting with the table, the centerpiece should be its main focus. This will also be a reflection of the chosen theme for the evening.

Once the centerpiece has been selected, gather your materials. This includes the basics such as the polished silverware, glasses, napkins, and the chef-chosen dinnerware that will highlight the menu.

Following the centerpiece, consider the tablecloth, placemats, and table runners. Do not be afraid to layer the materials, texture, and colors. From this point on, let your creative juices flow. Incorporate fashionable colors and different shapes and objects into your theme. In my view, you can never have enough flowers and foliage on board for a party.

Popular Party Themes

For the smaller dinners and occasions, you’ll know ahead of time which celebration is coming up, such as popular seasonal holidays. Also be on the alert for specific celebrations, such as a birthday, anniversary, or a family reunion. Some popular themes to keep in mind:

  • Uni-color theme
  • Holiday festivity
  • Black and White theme, movie theme featuring the guest photos
  • Natural hues
  • The classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme

If the yacht has been chartered to host a party for 100 people, consider hiring a professional event company to decorate. When planning a larger event, don’t forget these other factors:

Keep Safety in Mind

Say you’re at a film festival; keep in mind that this is usually a working event. People are usually moving around and networking, the music is normally loud, and the drinks are flowing, so you’ll need a solid safety plan to manage so many people on board.

Consider cultural diversity when planning meals and serving drinks. Be mindful of the guest list and don’t be afraid to put your foot down with regards to the yacht’s rules. Create appropriate signage for prohibited areas on the yacht, such as the crew area or the bridge.

Don’t Forget the Nitty Gritty

You can easily hire high-quality glass and dinnerware for large events, so that you save the baccarat and Waterford crystal for the owner. When hiring extra staff on board, it pays to do a dress rehearsal — do a safety walk around the yacht and make sure their service skills are up to your standard.

A beautiful table will set the mood for the evening, beckoning the guest to savour every bite.

Refrigeration for large events is always an issue. Don't underestimate the chilling times for beverages or how much space the chef needs for large cocktail parties. Make sure you have equipment on hand for the host to give a speech such as a microphone and a small platform.

Plan B

Lastly, have a contingency plan ready in case a link in the planning fails or the boss changes their mind at the last minute. Have more than one contractor vetted and available. It may pay to ring at least three entertainers and check the quality of their act and their availability ahead of the party, so that if one act fails to appear, you have a backup.

Less is more. Or, maybe you should go over the top? That is the question for any swoon-worthy event. All of these social affairs can be easily managed with a little forethought for the guests and thorough planning of the small details.

This article originally ran in the September 2021 issue of Dockwalk.

For more tablescape content:

11 Theme Night Ideas for Halloween

10 Autumn Tables for Thanksgiving Inspiration


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