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Nostalgic Easter Celebration

For Washington, D.C., event planners Rick Davis and Christopher Vazquez, springtime means a nostalgic Easter celebration with friends at their Maryland farmhouse
Antique ironstone dinner plates cradled by woven chargers, along with hand-painted vintage napkins and midcentury Bakelite cutlery, await guests. An assortment of caned-seat chairs picked up here and there surrounds the antique dining table.

In today’s world, everyone is used to bringing in a caterer when they entertain, but a waiter in a white jacket would look ridiculous here,” says Rick Davis of the parties and dinners he and partner Christopher Vazquez host in their Maryland farmhouse. As owners of Amaryllis Floral and Event Designs in Washington, D.C., the couple is well-versed in the language of elaborate, white-tablecloth events, but at home, they favor casual living, timeworn appointments, and old-school traditions. “It’s all about classic comforts,” says Rick of the colonial-inspired home he and Christopher built together almost 20 years ago. So when they opened their door to friends for an Easter lunch last spring, the designers eschewed the everyday tools of their trade and instead focused on sentimental notions that reminded them of celebrations from childhood.

The gathering fell on a glorious, unseasonably warm day. Early spring blooms of flowering cherry trees and quince colored the landscape, while a rainbow of pansies, daffodils, and tulips filled beds and containers. To keep the event simple and intimate, Christopher created the menu and asked everyone to bring one of the items listed. Guests arrived in casual attire carrying their homemade recipes in covered dishes. “Our friends love to cook, and this allowed them to show off their talents,” says Rick. “There’s usually a bit of history behind each dish, and it lets our guests bring their stories to the table.”

Spring flowers, both potted and cut, are strewn down the center of the dining table in casual containers to create the look of an indoor potting shed.
Always on the hunt, Christopher and Rick gather Easter eggs no matter the time of year.

A mix of terra-cotta pots and vintage majolica containers planted with a variety of blooms such as azaleas, primrose, and lettuce—all purchased from a local garden shop—brought seasonal color to the antique teak dining table. “It’s an easy, budget-friendly look to create,” Rick says. “I just bought flats of young lettuces and repotted them really tight. Then I smashed the little viola plants together until they were full. After the event, I transplanted them all outside.” Cut stems of more spring blooms such as cyclamen and hyacinth in green glass apothecary bottles were tucked in between pots. “Setting the arrangements directly on the wooden surface gives the table the look of a potting bench,” says Rick.

Adding to the jubilant scene, the designers scattered in the candies of childhood: jelly beans, marshmallow chicks, and foiled chocolates. “My mom worked for a candy and tobacco wholesaler when I was growing up, so I always had the latest and greatest treats,” says Rick. “Back then, it was a coconut egg.”

The couple’s abundant collection of Easter décor completed the festive setting. A variety of eggs—some made of papier-mâché from Germany, some hand-carved from wood, and some gathered from the couple’s own geese and then blown out with a straw by Rick—decorated sideboards and tabletops. “We hunt for all sorts of eggs and other decorations throughout the year,” says Rick. “If we are antiquing and discover a good holiday-themed find, we’ll buy it out of season and squirrel it away so that when the time comes, we’ll have it.”

Along with their dozens of Easter eggs, the couple displayed vintage ceramic and porcelain chicks and bunnies that evoke more childhood memories. In the entry hall, a chick planter held a tiny viola beneath an arrangement of hybrid delphiniums, lilacs, fritillaries, garden roses, jasmine vines, pussy willows, and hellebores. “Our overall goal when hosting any gathering is to make sure people feel welcome in our home,” says Rick. “When things are a little homespun, your guests don’t feel like you’ve gone over the top, and everyone can relax.”

Christopher created a classic Easter menu that included ham, grits, and deviled eggs for a potluck-style luncheon. For flowers on the serving table, Rick filled an ironstone bowl with fragrant purple hyacinth.
Effortless Entertaining

Designers Rick Davis and Christopher Vazquez are always at the ready for any holiday. Here’s how they make it look so easy.

Collect all year long.

Rick and Christopher buy holiday and entertaining items as they find them—no matter what time of year it is. “Sometimes, the best deals are found out of season,” says Rick.

Get Organized.

Through many years of planning events, the designers learned that having a system is key to putting parties together quickly. The duo stores their seasonal and holiday décor in carefully marked plastic bins in their basement for easy accessibility.

Choose flowers and greenery that are readily available.

Rick and Christopher enjoy visiting local growers and garden shops for fresh cuts or plants that can later be transplanted outside. Then they clip blooms and branches from their own garden to add to the store-bought items.

Engage your guests.

For casual entertaining, the designers like to create a menu and ask each guest to contribute to the meal. “People always want to bring something,” Rick says. “This makes it easy and fun for everyone.”

Make it memorable.

The designers suggest serving a signature drink that guests will remember. For their Easter luncheon, they prepared a blood orange cocktail made with elderflower liqueur and gin in vintage, patterned, pressed glasses.

The couple raises heritage farm animals, including these gray Saddleback Pomeranian geese. At Easter time, Rick uses their unfertilized eggs for décor.

By Cathy Still McGowin | Photography by Kate Headley