The Host With The Most: Ace At-Home Entertaining This Summer With Help From Floral Artist Maurice Harris
Ketel One

The summer season is almost upon us, and it’s the season to shine as hosts for those who are planning to entertain over the next few months. 

From cookouts and picnics to dinners and cocktail parties, the summer is yours to find creative ways to make Instagram-worthy memories and keep your guests talking about your gathering(s) all year long. 

ESSENCE spoke with Los Angeles-based floral artist Maurice Harris, owner of Bloom & Plume, for advice on how to be the host with the most. Harris founded his bespoke floral design studio in Echo Park in 2010 after several moments of external validation dictated his path. “I was just playing around with flowers, and people liked my approach,” he says. “While I was doing a bunch of odd jobs, the most consistent odd job was doing flowers, so I just kept pursuing it.”

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Now Harris’s business is in full bloom, and he created the limited edition Spritz into Summer Collection in collaboration with Ketel One Botanical on TheBar.com. The botanical spritz-inspired collection includes items designed by Harris himself, perfect for summer entertaining. He shares his tips for at-home entertaining this summer that will make your hosting plans a little easier — and make you a hit with friends and family. 

1. Pick a Theme

When planning to host some friends or family at your home this summer, Harris suggests starting with a theme to build upon. “Pick a color, pick a flavor, pick an item, and let that shine through all aspects of the evening,” he says. Make it easier on yourself by visiting stores like HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby and At Home to be inspired by the colors and items in season and readily available to you to use for entertaining. Harris suggests that if your theme is centered around color, it can be incorporated into your dinnerware, flowers and food. “If it is pink, maybe you have pink glasses, a pink flower on the table. Maybe there’s pink jello. Why not?” he shared. He also mentions pairing the pink theme with the cocktails as well. “Pair that back to a drink, like the [Ketel One Botanicals] grapefruit and rose. That has like a pink label on the bottle,” he adds.

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2. Keep It Simple

“Try to keep it simple, I think is the most ideal, but also make sure that you’re creating impact,” he says. For Harris, creating impact is thinking about how your theme can be woven into the entertainment experience. “I love herbs, and so you can do potted mint down your table.” Not only does the potted mint present a unique decor element, but guests can interact with it by adding it to their drinks and food while giving your home a refreshing smell. “Mint can carry through all of the items that you’re serving, whether that’s a strawberry mint salad or dessert,” Harris adds. He believes other herbs will offer a great “herbaceous moment,” including basil and flowered oregano. “I think it can be really easy and beautiful. You don’t have to think about, ‘How am I gonna make this interesting?’ You could have a through-line with one item, and it makes it very effective.”

3. Be Inspired by What Is Available

Like most industries, the floral business was impacted by the lack of availability of different items during the pandemic. “We’re just lucky to get what we can get. So some of our tried and trues that are available in summer may or may not be there,” Harris warns. By understanding that sometimes supplies won’t be available to incorporate trends for the summer, Harris suggests changing your mindset. Be open and inspired by what is available at the moment by frequenting your farmers’ market to see what looks delicious and beautiful that you could use for entertaining. “My design principle is whatever is the most amazing, even if I have my eyes set on something else, that’s what I end up going with because it’s going to be the most delicious,” he adds. “It’s going to trump what my little idea was because it’s the best thing available.”

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4. Add a Fun and Unique Touch

The Spritz into Summer Collection includes elegant preserved floral arrangements, a trio of cocktail towels and rose-shaped ice molds designed by Harris that can add a unique touch to your event. “I really love the rose ice cube tray. I think it’s a wonderful way to add a little visual interest to a clear beverage,” Harris says. He boils the water to remove the bubbles so that the water will freeze clear. Then Harris adds pedals or mint to the water before freezing to add a surprise visual element to the ice cubes. “It’s actually cooling off your beverage, and it also has a built-in garnish and design detail.” 

His last piece of advice is to get guests out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. “Just get out of the house. We’ve been bottled up in our homes for the last couple of years,” Harris adds. “It’s time to get out and party.”

Make sure you utilize your outdoor spaces, and these tips, for entertaining this summer. 

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