I was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, I guess you could say I have an innate (and learned) sense of hosting and connection to community that began with my grandmother, Edith. She embodied the concept of gracious hospitality — the idea that entertaining should always feel comfortable and never contrived and she always looked you in the eye when she was speaking to you (and expected the same). My love for gardening stemmed from her as did a freshly pressed linen. I swear some of those napkins could stand up on their own and one of my favorite scents is a summer-ripened tomato freshly plucked from the vine.
I learned about textiles from my grandfather who ran the menswear buying department for a well-known department store. He paid me a nickel for every little square of fabric I perfectly tacked into the swatch books. Little did I know that the nine colorways of Tommy Hilfiger’s 1988 collection of seersucker shorts would come in handy one day. My father hung wallpaper for over a decade. I have a serious passion for paper and pattern and I am still in disbelief that grasscloth is back in style (I’m considering a really lovely black and gold one to go above the chair rail in my dining room now…) He also taught me what it means to be a craftsman and although far from glamorous, wallpaper hanging is an artform. One to be celebrated and appreciated. If you don’t believe me, just wait until your seams don’t line up.
I found my love of china and place settings from the four collections I’ve inherited, including one that my grandmother gifted me when I was 20, “just in case she died before I got married.” and by working for one of Washington D.C.’s premier catering companies. The endless options, the fascination with what people selected and how important it was that the selections match the service. What good is a pretty table if it is non-functioning? It is sure is hard to eat soup with a salad fork. I’ve been lucky enough to set tables for over twenty years, I’ve been invited into people’s homes, I’ve laughed with chefs and cooks that will let me taste from the pan and I’ve enjoyed champagne from a plastic cup while shucking oysters from the river. I’m not condoning serving champagne in a plastic cup at your next dinner party, but sometimes it makes sense and I am saying you should let joy take you on a journey, that is where the best stories are made.
This is the true spirit of Ghost Host, it isn’t always fancy, though sometimes it is (yep, I can help there too). No matter what though, it should make sense to you and your guests, it should tell a story (and create one), it should celebrate the people that made it, grew it, loved it and poured their everything into it. And from there, it spoke to you. We’ve told ourselves that it has to be perfect or it is too hard or that you don't know how and that just isn’t true. Sure, there are a few rules I’d suggest following along the way but only because it makes it easier for you. I’ve also realized that not everyone grew up like me and there is power in knowledge. I want to revive the art of hosting, celebrating the every day and gathering intentionally.