Monica Pedersen’s Top Entertaining Tips: Ideas For Graduation Parties, Mother’s Day and More!

Last week, Monica Pedersen joined us for a Facebook chat on the Pottery Barn Facebook page, where she shared her entertaining tips with our fans. If you missed the chat, no worries — we’ve rounded up Monica’s entertaining advice below. Make sure to also check out all of her great party ideas in her book, Make it Beautiful. Whether you’re looking for tips on throwing a kids’ party, graduation gathering or something else altogether, Monica has you covered!


Looking for a great host gift?

“A pretty design or mixology book or a box of beautiful cocktail stirrers are great host gifts!”

Wedding wow factors — without breaking the bank?

“For me, it’s a tie between your table linens and your centerpiece. I’d start with spending more of your money on a striking centerpiece. However, table linens run a very close second. Something a bit more dramatic than a basic white linen can have so much impact not only on the table but on the space. A great linen can make even the simplest tableware really pop.”

A great take home gift for a Mother’s Day gathering?

“Buy a collection of inexpensive bud vases and then buy flowers or pick them from your garden. Add one stem to each bud vase, and you can then use each vase as a placecard for guests. Or, have the vases arranged on a tray on a table on the way out, so guest can take them home with them as they leave. Clear glass votive holders also work well for flowers as well.”

Making a kids party extra special? 

“Activities, activities, activities! Plan fun activities for the kids such as a craft or with bringing in entertainment. In terms of party design, bring in lots of color, but remember: kids are easy to please. Think color, ease and easy cleanup. Kids will remember the activities at the party more than the design. You can create a fun focal point with streamers or balloons.”

Good food for a first communion party?

“Since there will probably be kids there, try foods that are easy that kids like, too. SImple pasta for a late afternoon party is great, as are light salads. Trays of small sandwiches are a good option, too. Definitely play up the desserts to celebrate the communion child. Cake pops on sticks, cupcakes with crosses on them or a sundae station are all great options.”


Most essential element to a table setting? 

“The most important thing for daytime is fresh flowers — they bring a table to life. Simple flower containers and fresh flowers can dress up any table setting. For an evening gathering, the most important element is candlelight. It creates instant ambience, is inexpensive and there are so many great options out there for candles and candleholders.”

A backyard graduation party for a young man?

“Find a spot in your beautiful backyard that has some shelter, just in case of bad weather. If your son is going off to college, incorporate the college’s logo into your design, such as with a flag or banner. This might also help to determine the color scheme for the party. Whatever you do, keep the party simple and masculine and serve food family style. Take advantage of some of the great neutral linens out there (Pottery Barn has some great ones). Accent the linens with galvanized metal drinking tubs and accents to keep things more on the masculine side.”


Creating  room for flowers on a table at a large party?

“When you’re hosting a large gathering is to put two tables together to make a table extra-wide. (Standard rental tables are 30 inches wide.) If you look at the party I shared on the Pottery Barn blog ( this sixty-inch-wide table gave me plenty of room for featuring large, high-impact centerpieces as well as smaller arrangements. Having such a wide table gives you plenty of space for flowers as well as for food and drinks. When we served dinner, we simply took the large centerpieces off the table and put them by the bar area and inside the home. The smaller centerpieces and candles were left on the table and looked gorgeous.”

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