Take Friendsgiving up a notch

Betsey Geier

The holidays are here, and that means ample time-off to spend with loved ones. But what about friends? I sat down with two Charleston pals who have a knack for entertaining to create a fabulous Friendsgiving.

Britt Fowler, a local floral designer and prop stylist, started chatting with food photographer Keely Laughlin about a special way to celebrate the season together. An evening the duo would happily name “Palucopia.”

"The older you get and the further you move away from home, the more important it is to really cultivate and cherish your group of friends," said Laughlin. "Personally and professionally, I’m so lucky to have Britt in my life. Creating a beautiful experience for our friends and documenting it was a natural outgrowth of who we are as people and girlfriends."

From there, Fowler got to work designing something their guests had never seen before.

"The tablescape was inspired by nature, specifically a field of wildflowers,” said Fowler. “We knew we wanted to host our gathering outdoors, thus the inspiration came organically. Originally, our planned setting was in open air but it rained midway through shooting. We hauled all parts to the front porch which, in retrospect, we preferred! It created an even stronger sense of intimacy."

Fowler took a balanced approach to the color scheme.

"We stuck with monochromatic table linens and dinnerware to keep things modern and clean. We wanted the colors from the food and florals to really shine,” she said.

And that they did.

"The flowers were meant to be bold! Bright oranges, pinks, deep reds and touches of blue. For a more modern palette, I love to mix warm and cool tones. The butterflies added a sense of whimsy and colorful motion. They fluttered every time the table was touched. The hint of gold from the cutlery and candlestick holders made it festive, and the electric blue candlesticks were actually inspired by Goodfellas," Fowler said. "Remember the wedding scene?” she asked.

Fowler shared a couple of tips for designing a wow-worthy experience.

"Prep as much as possible so there is more fun to be had in the moment. A hurried host immediately creates a less than jovial atmosphere,” Fowler said.

Laughlin jumped on the chance to plan the evening’s feast, inspired by her mother’s epic Thanksgiving meals.

"We wanted to create a menu that showcased familiar flavors but was also reflective of our group of friends and what we like,” she explained.

"Simply prepared fresh catch from Crosby’s, a hearty cheese plate, and cornbread were among my must-haves. Roasted turkey breast and Brussels sprout slaw with cranberries and pecans infused the meal with those homey feels!” Laughlin explained.

In true Friendsgiving fashion, Laughlin noted the team effort made the night even more special.

"Luckily, we have a few home chefs in our crew who aided in the menu design and prep (thank you Camille Livesay for the delicious Chai Hotty Toddy idea!). I would never advise taking on a meal like this alone. Not only is it stressful, but you’ll miss out on opportunities to share. Isn’t that what it’s all about?” Laughlin asked.

Take inspiration from Fowler and Laughlin when planning your own Friendsgiving - or any festive meal - this holiday season.

Follow Keely Laughlin & Britt Fowler on social media to see future shoots and ideas!

Florals & Design: Britt Fowler @britt_fowler | Photography: Keely Laughlin @keelylaughlinphoto | Calligraphy: Justine Elizabeth Calligraphy @justineelizabethcalligraphy | Rentals: The Station Park Circle @thestationparkcircle & The Hive @thehive_forthehome