How To Endure Quarantine with Style and Grace, According to Entertaining Expert Rebecca Gardner

Steele Marcoux
Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

From Veranda

Rebecca Gardner is no stranger to life on the go. The events and interiors designer splits her time between New York and Savannah, Georgia, traveling to installation locations around the world in between.

But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with globe-trotting and events orchestrating on hold for the time being, Gardner is sheltering in place at home in Savannah, dreaming up dinner parties she can't host, cakes she can't deliver, and European getaways that will have to wait.

But when she finds herself way down in the dumps with worry for loved ones and sadness about not being able to connect with others, Gardner does her best to redirect that emotional energy into gratitude — for her friends and family, for the ever-changing seasonal bounty, for laughter and silliness. And for martinis, of course.

Here, an edited version of our recent interview.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

This terrible time inspires acts of kindness and generosity, as we all want to share, comfort, and give. I continuously find myself at the grocery thinking of the ingredients for a small dinner at home or a carrot cake that someone once applauded.

Then I sulk back through the aisles, replacing each item. No dinner for friends inspired by that new Ottolenghi cookbook [Falasitin; Ebury Publishing (2020)]. No godchildren coming over to decorate Easter eggs. No delivering sinful baked goods down the street. We have to be careful. My love language isn’t translating into corona.

I have, however, found great pleasure in making silly cards for the people who I appreciate. I make about 30 each evening while binge-watching Schitt’s Creek. I have a gigantic bin of stickers that I haven’t touched in years, and I’m using them to sprinkle a little joy.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

I will never be a morning person and desperately need a fire under me to get out of bed and act grown up. I now set the table the night before.

A civilized breakfast is something to look forward to and a treat to start the day with an attractive effort. I am eating my feelings with a side of vitamin C.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

I go on long walks in the mornings and afternoons and hide a petite pair of shears in the waistband of my yoga pants. This allows me to clip specimens secretly and quickly. I am the only one power walking with a canvas tote full of flowers.

Savannah is showing the last of the camellias. I grouped them on my coffee table in small juice glasses for delight.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

I have been firmly opposed to FaceTime up until this past month. I now love it as much as sunshine and white wine. FaceTime — or FaceWhine — is the best part of my day.

I plan these virtual cocktail parties several times a week, connecting new friends that I’ve always wanted to introduce, catching up with high school buddies, and enjoying the usual suspects who I can’t live without.

I always chat in front of a big window in the living room because I can adjust the pink curtains for the most flattering light. They are pink silk taffeta with an open weave linen overlay. I am thrilled to know that they cast a flattering glow around sunset. I’ve also learned quickly about the best angle — note my computer on top of a stack of pillows.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

These parties can last for hours. I make a huge martini in my favorite vintage shaker and add a splash of soda as I go.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

I highly suggest costumes. It’s a scream to plan FaceWhine with a costume directive. And is it really that much effort when you only have to dress from the waist up?

My costume box includes a foam geisha wig, which goes well with sake and take-out. You can also fashion a costume from your regular closet. I was organizing mine this weekend and sidetracked into dreaming of Venice in the fall, so I decided to go ahead and pack with optimism.

My dear friend, Happy Menocal, made this birthday crown for me. Mothers could plan a “Very Happy Unbirthday” dinner for children complete with cake and paper crowns. Make them wrap things around the house to give to siblings. Gushing over a bar of soap is a strenuous exercise in gratitude.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Gardner

I’m not all martinis and caftans these days. After all, I am a small-business owner creating events and interiors.

This bedside note is a great reminder to persevere (as if there’s a choice). Let’s do it with humor and style.


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