Dorinda Medley, who during her six seasons on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City,” made a name for herself as Miss Christmas, has a shocking Halloween confession. “I like it better than Christmas,” she says.
This is a big deal for the author of the memoir-cum-entertaining guide, “Make It Nice,” who is known for the elaborate Christmas displays she creates every year at her home in the Berkshires, Blue Stone Manor, complete with lights galore, bespoke Blue Stone Manor ornaments and a 9-foot nutcracker.
This year, in addition to a massive outdoor display that includes an 8-foot dragon, a screaming child (“the one that everyone said looks like Bethenny crying“) and six, yes six, giant skeletons — but no lights, “No, no, no, I don’t do that. I don’t do any of that. I save all that for Christmas.” — Medley is hosting a Halloween dinner party that she’s describing as “an elegant party for Dracula.”
We asked Medley to take us through her Halloween tablescape, from the placemats on up, so you can shop the look and recreate her spooky-ooky dinner party presentation in your own home.
MC Glass Black Glass Tile, 3-Pack ($18.95; amazon.com)
To set the tone for her black, red and gold table, Medley is using something a bit unusual in lieu of traditional table linens. “I have two pieces of beautiful cut black glass that I’m going to use almost like a table runner,” she says.
Halloween Bag of Doll Heads ($19.99; orientaltrading.com)
“And for the centerpiece,” Medley says, “I’ve ordered a bag of baby heads.” As one does! And actually here, we mean it: Apparently everyone is buying bags of baby heads this year, because they are very hard to find in stock! Medley’s bag of heads comes from Oriental Trading; similar bags of baby heads can also be found on Amazon, Halloween Express, Costumeish and Walmart, but stock is extremely limited.
Godinger Silver Art Co Dublin 9-Piece Punch Bowl Set ($94.32, originally $150; wayfair.com)
“I think for this event, I’m taking the punchbowl out and, like, drop a baby head or two inside of it with very low, dark red flowers,” she says. “I want it to be like Marilyn Monroe meets Dracula, kind of glamorous, but dark.” Medley’s punchbowl was her grandmother’s, but similar sets that include punch glasses and a ladle are still sold, and can often be found at vintage or antique stores or at tag and yard sales.
Lucid Black Dinner Candle ($34.99; lucidcandle.com)
Tag sales are crucial to Medley’s ongoing hunt for holiday decor. “I’m a total builder. I always try to use stuff I have, and then I kind of build on it every year.” One of her tag sale treasures is a set of candelabras that she plans to incorporate into her Halloween table to evoke the elegant Dracula theme.
“I have these two gold candelabras that are so over the top that I bought at a tag sale years and years ago, so I got these black flickering candles,” Medley says, “and then I’m going to do some very low pillar candles throughout the table.”
Cys Excel Dome Glass Cloche with Black Wood Base (starting at $23.99; amazon.com)
A new addition this year is a set of cloches. “This year I’m doing a lot of glass dome looks, with the little interiors that light up,” Medley says, and she’s focusing on a bat and cemetery motif to carry through her vampire-ish theme. Crafty types will enjoy DIY-ing the cloche interiors, but plenty of pre-fabricated Halloween domes are available on sites like Etsy.
Red Barrel Studio Rocco Beaded Placemat (starting at $37.99; wayfair.com)
When it comes to the place settings themselves, Medley is pulling out a number of treasures she’s collected along the way. “I’m using these beautiful Douglas Little black beaded placemats I bought years ago at Barney’s Home — remember Barney’s Home, how great that was? It was the best.” Barney’s Home is sadly gone, but these beaded placemats will help you to replicate the look of Medley’s now-vintage set.
Hermes Balcon du Guadalquivir Dinner Plate ($170; hermes.com)
To create the Dracula look, Medley is setting the table with her collection of Hermes dishes and glasses. “I’m going to use my Hermes red pattern plates, because the red is so beautiful, and then I’m going to use black cut crystal glasses.” Not everyone can afford a set of Hermes plates, so we rounded up some alternatives to the look from AliExpress and Amazon at a lower price point.
Waterford Crystal Lismore Black Crystal Goblets, Set of 2 ($195; neimanmarcus.com)
Cut crystal glasses like this set by Waterford are also quite expensive, but if you like the look, similar styles at a more affordable price point can be found at auctions, antique stores and estate sales, or on sites like Etsy or Ebay; we especially like this set of vintage Italian crystal wine glasses from Etsy.
Grandin Road Personalized Gold Rim Flutes, Set of 4 ($59.50; grandinroad.com)
Medley likes to serve her favorite rosé champagne, Billecart-Salmon, at her dinner parties, so a flute is a must for her Halloween table. “I’m going to start off with a gold champagne glass on the side, I love that gold leaf to bring out the glass,” Medley says.
Gather by Anthropologie Streamlined Flatware (starting at $28; anthropologie.com)
Medley plans to carry the gold touches of the candelabras and flutes through to her flatware, a gold-plated set that belonged to her grandmother. Gold flatware is still a very popular style that can be found at a number of different price points, like this mid-priced set from Anthropologie, to fit every budget.
Williams Sonoma Black Linen Double Hemstitch Napkins, Set of 4 ($39.95; williams-sonoma.com)
To set off the gold flatware, Medley has chosen a dark napkin. “I’m doing a black napkin, just a plain linen black napkin that I got from Williams Sonoma. I buy all my napkins from them,” Medley says, “and I like a nice black linen napkin for Halloween.”
Grandin Road Halloween Charcuterie Board ($55.60, originally $69.50; grandinroad.com)
To complete her elegant Dracula look, Medley added a few new serving pieces to her collection this year. “I ordered a bunch of beautiful trays that have bat handles, and bat serving spoons” Medley’s bat handle set comes from Grandin Road, which is one of her favorite sources of holiday decor.