Sought-after Naples event planner Margaret Short helps make entertaining easy this season with curated tablescapes — Gulfshore Life
Margaret Short deals in details. For Naples Winter Wine Festival’s vintner dinners, the Naples event planner transformed an aircraft hangar into a virtual vacation with immersive digital projections; designed a whimsical, ombre tablescape to showcase a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef’s culinary creations; and commissioned a faux fuselage to welcome guests into a retro aviation-themed dinner, awash in shimmering silver orbs. Hosts have turned to the design pro’s business, Margaret Events, for more than a decade. If someone’s daughter is getting married in Port Royal, when event chairs want to wow guests and top all fundraising goals at their galas, and if hosts want a custom spin on traditional flowers—Margaret gets the call. “Everybody here is entertaining on some level,” she says. “People really want to focus on having a good time.”
While the region is known for over-the-top celebrations, Margaret has noticed more intimate gatherings lately. “A lot of my clients ask, ‘Can you come over and help me set my table?’” she says. To oblige, she launched TableTop Creations earlier this year, offering curated table settings and decor for designing tablescapes at home or at other locales, like the country club. The outfit helps hosts shift the focus from planning to joining in on the celebrations.
The process is straightforward: Prospective hosts from Marco Island to Bonita Springs can browse more than a dozen predesigned collections, select the event date and required number of settings and plan a ready-to-assemble dinner party with the click of a button. Packages are delivered with instructions (or can be assembled by a TableTop Creator for a fee) and then are picked up after the event.
Opting in for à la carte offerings and mixing pieces within the collections are easy ways to personalize. One design provides clear glasses with gold rims, lavender napkins and a grass runner for a sweet, soft look. Another design, with black glassware, black napkins and a lavender runner, creates drama. There is also the option to request a custom design. Add-ons like short, clear votives or tall, sculptural black ones and floral bouquets complete the look.
Margaret can arrange services, too, including bartenders and private chefs. “We thought about the à la carte things that would be needed to help somebody fine-tune their party,” she says “Not only do we want them to have a beautiful table, but we want the rest of the event to go smoothly. We have these contacts and resources—let’s provide them.”
The Naples professional plans to roll out new designs with a collaborator each season to keep things fresh. The first, The Mackenzie Collection, debuted in the fall. Margaret’s late stepdaughter, Mackenzie Ryan, is the collaborator, honored posthumously. The 23-year-old helped create the business, curating the designs. While many would understand if Margaret ceased the brand launch after Mackenzie passed away earlier this year, Margaret forged ahead, knowing her daughter would want her to continue their shared vision. Margaret released the eponymous collection, including 16 curated sets, inspired by her daughter. “I already knew she had an eye, but going back and looking through these designs, I realized she really had a talent. You could tell she was really passionate,” Margaret says. The whimsical Kenzie design features Christian Lacroix salad and dinner plates dotted with brightly colored butterflies, symbolizing eternal life. Variations of glassware and gold-tipped silverware customize the look. Margaret plans to collaborate with local creatives on future collections.
The inaugural run has been a success, but Margaret has no intention of shifting away from the big, splashy celebrations she’s known for. “People love to have parties and big weddings,” Margaret says. “Once you hit more than 16 to 20 people, it becomes a Margaret Events event.”