A California Table With Anika Murthy

Fall is in full swing

As we settle deeper into Autumn, the crisp air and golden afternoons invite us to gather around the table with close friends, comforting meals and clean, delicious wine. We spoke with San Francisco-based interior designer, Anika Murthy, to hear the ways she effortlessly brings her community together for the season.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and where your love for entertaining stems from.

I grew up in Northern California. Whether it was at the beach, in the mountains, or in the vineyards, I was always taught to enjoy and embrace nature, bringing the outside into our home whenever possible. My love for entertaining absolutely comes from my parents. They both grew up in India, where cherishing and celebrating any and every moment is a big part of our culture. It has always been about friends and family and enjoying time around the table with one another.

What are some entertaining staples you always have on hand for easy, impromptu gatherings?

Linen napkins, candles, a good playlist, and of course, bread and wine!

What are your top five tips for hosting a dinner party?

  1. Keep it casual! When it comes to hosting, less is more. Easy food like a baguette and good cheese, and a couple bottles of wine, makes the overall gathering more relaxed, and laid-back.
  2. Mood lighting. I love dimming the lights and lighting simple pillar candles around the table. I typically will also have one favorite scented candle lit to bring a beautiful ambience to the gathering.
  3. Have a couple of cute ice buckets on hand. If you are serving chilled whites and rosés, it makes it so much easier for people to grab, pour and share with each rather than reaching for the fridge.
  4. Do as much as you can beforehand! It’s no fun when you are stressed and can’t enjoy the evening yourself.
  5. Florals go a long way. I love having a few small bud vases sprinkled around the house, especially in spots where people tend to linger.

What’s your favorite part of planning a gathering?

I absolutely love the creativity that goes into styling and setting a table. It’s an opportunity to do whatever you want-- you can use seasonal foliage and color palettes or keep on theme with a particular occasion or holiday. I love making the table speak to the particular gathering, focusing the florals and decorations on either the ingredients found in the food or what’s in season at the time. The best is when you can forage for fruits or branches from around where you are dining. It really makes it all come together!

Do you prefer serving plated, family style, or buffet style for your holiday gatherings?

Family style, always. It makes people feel at home. There is something so communal and easy about having friends around a table all sharing stories and food.

What would be on your holiday party playlist?

A whole lot of Leon Bridges and Mac Demarco.

How can someone new to entertaining find confidence in hosting a gathering?

By starting simple and asking for help! Some of my favorite gatherings are potlucks. It is so fun to have guests bring wine or a dish that is special to them, and it makes them feel even more like a part of the evening. It’s the company that really matters, so don’t worry too much about the little things!

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