Savvy New England-based party planner Desiree Spinner shares the keys for a scenic, early-spring get-together with good company, great food, and the perfect backdrop.

“We entertain a lot,” says party planner Desiree Spinner with an exhausted laugh. “We have house guests over nearly every weekend.” With Spinner’s skill at creating whimsical one-of-a-kind parties and weddings for her clients at Desiree Spinner Events, her friends and family are in for a treat when she entertains at her Nantucket home. Drawing on seaside inspiration from Nantucket, Cape Cod, and Hyannis Port, Spinner reveals simple tricks to turn your oceanfront property into the perfect entertaining space.

Keep it low-key

Use the shoreline as your backdrop and hit the beach for dinner. Take small craft or gable boxes and fill them with quick nibbles—an individual salad for each person, a box of rolls, and a box of cheeses to pass. “We like to mix it up, so sometimes we’ll go right down to the beach,” Spinner says. “We take blankets and pillows to sit on, and a small wicker table to use as a buffet. Our guests adore this because they can see the local scenery, and the sunsets here are so gorgeous. Afterward, we’ll head back up to the house for dessert.”

Draw on nature

For your table setting, minimize cleanup and maximize atmosphere by bringing your party outside. “We have an antique wooden table we’ll take out to the patio and place a rug underneath,” Spinner says. “That way, you can see and hear the ocean while you eat. Then, we use natural items—anything neutral you’d find on the beach—to decorate. Put seashells in bleach in the sink to clean them up, collect driftwood to scatter, look for dried starfish, cool rocks—we found a heart-shaped one we like to use.”

Use local touches

Spinner likes to pull inspiration from the East Coast’s quaint setting. “I have a little wooden dish for sea salt. My friend from California thinks it’s just a New England thing!” she says. “People want to feel that [local vibe] while they’re here. They want seafood, they want local things, and it’s fun to do for friends.” Antique lanterns, hurricane lamps, vases of hydrangeas, and jugs of beer from local-favorite Cisco Brewers on Nantucket are some of her party staples. Make guests feel they’re getting a memorable experience they won’t have anywhere else.


The perfect party needs the perfect drink

Nantucket Lemonade

1 jar Nantucket Nectars Lemonade

3 oz. Triple Eight blueberry vodka

3 oz. soda water

Garnish with blueberries in a highball glass over ice.

Rose Kennedy

Rose Kennedy


Dark and Stormy

2 lime slices (one for garnish and one to squeeze on the ice)

1 oz. black rum

4 oz. ginger beer

Pour over ice in a highball glass and garnish with lime.


Rose Kennedy

4 oz. cranberry juice

2 oz. club soda

1 oz. vodka

Pour over rocks in a scotch glass and garnish with frozen cranberries and a lime wedge.