Lessons from Princess Grace: How to Elegantly Entertain This Thanksgiving

The holidays are a time for being thankful, spending time with family, honoring traditions, and entertaining those we cherish. For Princess Grace, she embraced not only beautiful traditions of Monaco, but made sure her family had as much a fondness for American holidays, and their American heritage, as she did. Her love of mixing her old world with her new, gave way to the Grimaldi family traditions that H.S.H. Prince Albert II still honors today – including a festive Thanksgiving celebration.

Giving Thanks.

Thanksgiving meals in Monaco would often consist of dishes made with seasonal produce, like sweet potatoes and pumpkins, as well as a roasted turkey—if one could be found. When Princess Grace first moved to Monaco (from Philadelphia, PA) in the 1950s, turkeys were not widely available because they were primarily a North American bird. It wasn’t until the 1980s that they were more readily available in Europe. But there were a few turkey farmers in the Côte d’Azur area (it was a small French cottage industry), and Princess Grace, whenever possible, would make it a priority to purchase one in time for the holiday.

This tradition continues to this day, as H.S.H. Prince Albert II has introduced the holiday to His twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, and tries to mark the day with a special dinner. H.S.H. Prince Albert II has also remarked publicly about the tradition of Thanksgiving when He was growing up, and how His family would often either have a Thanksgiving lunch at the palace—or at the American Club on the Riviera or the Monaco/US Association.

Dining in Elegance.

When Thanksgiving was celebrated at home, the tablescape was, without a doubt, as elegant and classic as Princess Grace’s own personal style. The Princess’s love of flowers—especially white blooms—is well-documented, and they were likely a part of the family’s elegant dinner décor.

Meredith Waga Perez, founder of Belle Fleur New York and a highly-acclaimed floral designer, says designing a holiday table with white flowers—especially something as elegant as an orchid—is timeless and chic. “An orchid is so classic, and everyone loves them. They are the flower version of quiet luxury,” says Waga Perez. “And they evoke a sense of calmness and tranquility—something we could all use more of right now.” The orchid also had special meaning to Princess Grace, as it was one of her most loved flowers and a direct reference to her son, Prince Albert II. His birth was even celebrated with gifts of dozens of orchids arriving at the palace.

To make the orchid part of your Thanksgiving décor, Waga Perez suggests opting for small white Phalaenopsis orchids and lining them up down the center of the table. “They will look like little butterflies fluttering and dancing down the table,” she says. While Phalaenopsis come in a variety of colors, Waga Perez says winter white looks especially crisp around the holidays.

To complement the lineup of orchids, you might also consider placing small Grace de Monaco Promenade Sur Le Rocher candles among the orchids. In honor of the orchid's significance in Princess Grace’s life, the candle’s white ceramic vessel is delicately sculpted with orchid flowers. “Even though people may think of the orchid as a delicate flower, when you group them together en masse, it projects strength,” says Waga Perez, who adds that a monobotanic design (a single flower type) is one of her favorite modern tablescape ideas.

If you prefer a more traditional mixed bouquet, Waga Perez suggests pairing the orchids with any other white flower that's elegant. A few possibilities: peonies, sweet peas, ranunculus or garden roses. “I would mix them all together. If you want a large, dramatic presentation, you could create tall centerpieces with some larger Phalaenopsis orchids, big luscious peonies, and maybe some cloud-like hydrangeas.” And if you want something a bit more modest, she suggests using the miniature Phalaenopsis and pairing them with smaller flowers, like sweet peas, ranunculus and perhaps miniature calla lilies.

Tablescape Traditions.

As for the rest of the table, Princess Grace might have drawn inspiration for her Thanksgiving table from Rampoldi, one of the Grimaldi family’s favorite Monte Carlo restaurants (and which just opened a second location near Lincoln Center in New York City earlier this fall). Rampoldi’s belle époque design includes floors and wall panels made of Italian Rosso Imperiale marble, chandeliers and sconces crafted with custom Murano glass, and leather banquettes and chairs made by Milan’s Fratelli Boffi. The white table-settings are also traditionally punctuated with red glass water goblets similar to these from Villeroy & Boch. White flower arrangement, paired with white linens, and deep garnet goblets would make for the kind of striking holiday table Princess Grace would likely have favored.

A Royal Toast.

Finally, no holiday dinner party is complete without a celebratory cocktail. Alex Teisanu, the CEO of Monte Carlo Hospitality Group who oversaw the opening of Rampoldi’s NYC location, suggests a version of the restaurant’s Monarch cocktail. “This is our signature drink at Rampoldi; it’s a take on the classic Monarch cocktail, but made with high-end Cognac. And it’s great as an aperitif,” he says.

To make, dry shake:

  • 1 oz. Courvoisier X.O.
  • 0.5 oz St Germain
  • 0.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz Apricot puree
  • 1 Whole egg white

Then add ice and shake again. Double strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist and cherry. Cheers!

Gathering the family for the holidays and honoring tradition and heritage is as important to the royal family today as it was when Princess Grace first introduced her American holidays to her children and the Grimaldi family. Her elegant décor, menu and floral tablescapes still serve as inspiration for a classically beautiful, yet modern environment to set the ultimate warm, festive, family-oriented mood.