Just over a year ago, the Northern California Wine Country was struck by a series of wildfires, a disaster whose occurrence has become far too frequently all over the West Coast. A group of Napa-based friends in the hospitality industry rallied together to organize a fundraiser for wine country fire relief efforts at Terra Gallery in San Francisco. Befitting a wine country fundraiser, there were plenty of libations to sip on and attendees could shop from businesses that were directly impacted by the fires via a pop-up wine country retail marketplace, and bid on wine country experiences in a raffle. The event raised $25k, all of which went to The Tipping Point Emergency Fund benefitting low-income communities affected by the North Bay Fires and Restaurants Care, an emergency assistance organization for restaurant workers formed by the California Restaurant Association Foundation.

One of those raffle prizes? A Floral Arranging Party by John James of John James Designs, won by one of the event’s organizers, PR maven Lisa Nourse. Hosted at Stags Leap Cellars, it was a beautiful afternoon celebrating the strength of community and the beauty of nature.

And today John James is sharing his tips for hosting your own DIY Floral Arranging Fête! See more the event in the slideshow and John’s tips are below!

Five Tips For Hosting a DIY Floral Arranging Fete

1. Serve food and drinks before you begin. My go-to move is champagne and charcuterie. Light sandwiches with some lavender lemonade and a perfect California salad are also good options.

2. Find a fabulous location, preferably a place with abundant natural light. Make sure to utilize counter/bar height tables – no chairs, as sitting and flower arranging do not mix.

3. Get the most fantastic flowers available and don’t be afraid to get blooming plants from your local nursery, Cutting from plants is wildly satisfying – try plugging a sprig or two of pansies into a water tube as a precious detail in your arrangement. Note: If you don’t have easy access to a flower market or a farmers market don’t be afraid to get to know your produce manager at the local supermarket. They are generally happy to help you order flowers.

4. Use a vase that your guests will be delighted to reuse and be sure to get the same vase for every guest.

5. Remember that no matter how easy flower arranging is for a seasoned pro, some will be intimidated by the process and they will want to do a good job. Be encouraging, informative, and most of all, have fun!