“Hello, Laura. It’s ‘Fashion Icon’ Beau Black.” Are there any words more fabulous to the ear? Yes, as it turns out, there are: “Stephen and I would love for you to come for dinner.” Stylish duo Stephen Dunn (a noted interior designer) and Beau Black (a notable personality at David Sutherland) are known for their theme parties. And this year, we got a peek at “Christmas Eve by the Sea, ” their “Carmel chic, winter-white-with-a-dash-of-crimson affair.”

So why the ocean? “We love the ocean,” Black explains. “And we just returned from Carmel. The day we returned, we had to do Christmas for you.”

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Black went through his rather massive selection of china to select just the right elements. “We have more than 40 sets, ” he says, laughing. “It’s obese. Every time we do a dinner party, we go out and buy more, depending on the new themes. Some of it is fun. Some of it is important." For this party he mixed pieces from MacKenzie-Childs, Vietri, and Crate & Barrel. Extra touches include three large shells, which Dunn has collected since childhood,  vintage shells for place cards, beaded coral napkin rings, and black linens adorned with gold stars. (Of the latter, Black says, “They represent the opulence of the holidays.”) 

While The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album provides a soundtrack, dinner is served. Get ready for items such as scallop and bacon chowder topped with crème fraîche and grilled langoustine stuffed with crab cornbead dressing. Then save room for strawberry cake with scoops of dark chocolate and vanilla bean gelato drizzled with fudge and pecan sauce. As for the ideal size of the party, that can vary. “We can seat between 8 and 10 at the table, but we’ve had Thanksgiving for 44 people,” Black says. “Every size is perfect. You invite people because you like them. The people make it perfect. ”