So one thing that is pretty obvious about this beautiful table that we set for a beach dinner party, it is REALLY purple –  reddish grapey purple, but purple nonetheless. That was not necessarily my intention. But, a series of events conspired to make this my color scheme and all I have to say is that it’s a damn good thing no one ate my grapes before the shoot, Kristie! But I’ll get into all of that a little later.

The Beach Backstory

So let’s start with a little background. My family took a much-needed vacation to Topsail, North Carolina. Jen and another family in our little Covid “pod” tagged along and we spent 10 glorious days eating, drinking and socially distancing from people on a warm sandy beach.

Before we left, Jen and I decided to make this a work trip. We never get to play on the beach and decided it would be really fun to plan, enjoy and photograph a couple of beautiful dinner tables next to the ocean. Who cares that it meant loading up the car like the Beverly Hillbillies and driving 15 hours with the seats pushed up as far as they could go and locked at 90-degree angles. It’s not like we have 40-year-old lower backs or anything.

Regardless of comfort and convenience, we arrived at our beach house fully prepared to wow our vacation cohorts with not one, but two exquisitely-planned beach dinner parties. It was going to be AMAZING, until it wasn’t. 

Clearly, we are beach novices because wind, sand, and an angry local, we lovingly named Karen of the Dunes, made most of the setting-up part and all of the eating and enjoying part essentially impossible. Notice, I didn’t say anything about nixing the drinking part. That’s right Karen, f*** around with my wine and find out. 

A table to dye for

Despite all the crazy setbacks, we were able to pull off a lovely table for your viewing pleasure and an excellent meal, even if we did have to eat it inside and away from the prying eyes of Karen of the Dunes.

We started the design scheme with a “tie-dyed” table cloth that was meant to be more of a fig color. Our dye, however, rendered a more of a red grape color, so we decided to run with it. We threw down a fun picnic blanket from Amazon and topped it with a portable picnic table and pillows.

It’s important to note our place settings and glassware were the real deal. No acrylic or melamine here. So before you use this set up on a beach, make sure it’s allowed. Obviously there are a ton of outdoor options you could use, but in all honesty, the beach is so windy, they may take flight during setup.

A Passion for Purple

I love a good monochromatic color scheme, so we used several different shades and tints of our purple alongside warm neutrals. Primrose Gold Dinner Plates topped with Helena Wine Napkins and Ora Blush Salad plates, all from Crate and Barrel, created a perfectly balanced place setting.

Despite being neutral, the Buchanan Smoke Double Old-Fashioned glasses from CB2 and these pretty French Wine glasses from Crate and Barrel added in a hint of vintage style.

Dried florals so good, you’ll p*ss off a local

Let’s set the record straight. We did NOT pick pretty grasses and vegetation out of the local sand dunes. First off, it’s super illegal. Second, it’s not cool for the environment. Third, it’s one of the only things keeping the ocean from swallowing up those wonderful beach houses we all like to vacation in.

These dried florals were purchased before our trip. Obviously, they look like they could have come right off the beach, which was our intention, but they didn’t. So back off Karen! No need to swoop down on us from your lair, squawking like an angry seagull.

This dear reader is the moment we decided to take our pretty pictures and move our party inside. We had had enough wind, sand and Karen for one day and we were ready to enjoy ourselves, which we did with plenty of wine and this fabulous meal.

A Meze-style Dinner

Obviously, the beach calls for a more casual approach to dinner and this meze-style spread was perfect. We put out a variety of dishes that could be scooped up with Homemade Naan in between generous servings of wine.

The Roasted Beet Tahini stole the show with its flashy presentation. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with hot pink dip. The Nutty Tabbouleh was an interesting take on a classic Mediterranean dish with the addition of diced avocados. Finally, the Lemony Salmon was a hit with even the non-fish eaters.

Clearly the ambiance of the Atlantic Ocean added to the enjoyment of the meal, but you really can’t beat small plates with close friends for a wonderful dinner. In fact, I’m positive you will even enjoy this meal in the middle of the country.


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