Wednesday, March 6, 2013

dinner Party bohoSTYLE

Part I, bohoSTYLE Party Planning

"Don't half-ass it!" 
Mike Smalley, My father

With that being said I have never been able to "half-ass" an event at my house.  Feeding people and planning a party are what I enjoy most!  I love surprising my guests and spoiling them.  It's a challenge to see what I can make happen before the first guest arrives.  There are so many details behind the scenes that must be executed.  I have been known to drive buckets of hydrangeas and peonies, rolls of cheesecloth fabric, a food processor, homemade french macarons and an ice cream machine to Austin in a small sedan with 3 adults and a toddler to help host a small dinner party.  My best friend's boyfriend, the driver, gave me a little stank eye when he saw my loot but later sent the most amazingly sweet thank you card.  His best friend, came to the party and that sadly was his last dinner party... he died a couple of months later from a heart attack.  So, you never know there might be a bigger plan-so "don't half-ass it!"

So wether you are hosting a small intimate dinner party or 100 plus... Here are some of my tips:

First, get a game plan... Get a theme! Google some ideas, look through magazines, or pinterst.  What will you serve? Are you cooking or having it catered? In Houston, Central market has great trays of food http://www.centralmarket.com/departments.aspx#/catering.  They deliver too.  I make sure to transfer the food to simple white platters (white is timeless)... you should invest in some.  Try http://www.crateandbarrel.com/search.aspx?query=white%20platters, http://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=white+platers&category=0%7CAll%7Cmatchallpartial%7Call+categorieshttp://www.surlatable.com/search/searchContainer.jsp;jsessionid=AB76D191036DDBD6BAE7706E7722CDEB?q=white%20platters&s=true

Snacks, buffet style, sit down dinner, potluck? make a grocery list.  Don't try a new recipe... Try to get the amount of food/alcohol right... This is tricky.  If you are cooking make sure it is something you can keep warm for a large amount of time.  Know your audience- are they big eaters or more into the drinks?  Keep it simple.  They won't know if you spent hours making homemade gnocchi- trust me.  You have to delegate some of the tasks-so decide from the beginning if you want to spend your time on decorations or cooking. You can't do it all!

Next, check what vases you have at home and pick up some Flowers and some shears.  Buy one varietal of flower...hydrangeas, peonies, gerbera daisies, tulips, etc.  A mass of one varietal of flower looks better and more professional.  Don't cut the stems too short...You can always go shorter.  Use several different heights of vases to create depth in the room.  Tip- for hydrangeas, submerge the bloom in a bucket of warm water for 45 minutes to extend the life. 
Place your tallest arrangement at the end of the table, because you don't want to block conversation.

Have an odd number of arrangements... 

Jeff Leatham is my favorite floral designer, he creates the breathtaking arrangements in the lobby at the Four Seasons in Paris.  Below is an example of using different heights and choosing one varietal of flower as well as using a black satin table linen...

Whether you are hosting a formal or casual dinner party always use the right table layout and omit what you don't need.

Send out a fun invitation from the app, https://www.redstamp.com.  It's free and a more fun way to send an invitation via text or email.  Save a tree... Don't be scared to host a last minute party and still send out a fun invitation.  It makes the party seem more legit.  Who doesn't love getting party invitations...  know your number of guests you can handle.  What do you want to achieve?  Ask allergies. 

Plan your Night.

Plan an activity... something to break the ice or get your guests involved.  I have made guests wear names on their foreheads, costumes, wigs and masks, released wish lanterns, karaoke, help cook, play card games, bring red elephant gifts, and we ALWAYS dance.  I also have a hat box! that usually comes out later in the night...

Make a playlist that progresses as the night goes on.. slower to more faster paced! or book a 
D.J. or live music is always fun.

Know how the dimensions of your table-this will help you visualize for how many flower arrangements and decor you will need.

Need good lighting-Candles, Candles and more Candles like hundreds of them.

Make sure untrained pets aren't in the way.

Name placement cards- i like to be more broad and come up with fun things instead of the actual name i.e. boyfriend, girlfriend...

Dinner napkins http://www.paperstyle.com/is-bin/Caspari-Napkins.html?ViewAll=1, plates, silverware, glassware

Linens - ikea has fun fabric you can use, or renting is an option from Aztec.  i have black silk linens and they go with everything!

Pick up fun vintage platters, silver, etc at Antique Shops.

Rentals- make sure to call at least a 2 weeks before to order and even earlier if it's holiday season.  You can rent Chairs, tables, furniture, bars, glassware, plates, lighting, snow cone machines, margarita machines, etc.

Staff- nice to have someone keeping up the dishes, trash, and helping keep the food, ice, alcohol stocked... helps with the cleanup as well.  Nothing is worse than the day after clean up hung over .

Start the night before with decorating and setting everything up.  draw a layout so you have thought it all out.   Make sure to delegate some tasks so you won't be super stressed.  
TURN down a/c to 65 1 hour before guests arrive, make sure dishwasher is empty so you can start loading it, empty trash through out house, get ice, wipe any last paw prints, hand towel in guest bathroom, candle lit in entrance of home, turn on music, make sure you are dressed and ready because there is always the guest who arrives early! have a glass of wine or two.
Planning will help you budget your costs because people usually don't realize how expensive it can add up to be.  Remember it is worth it!!! You have to create an energy and night for your guests.

Please comment and ask for some of my favorite places to pick up things around town!

Here are some of my house parties pics...

i try to keep cheese, salami, hummus, carrots and nuts on hand.  I put this tray together on the fly.  
Everyone should have a cake stand-it just steps up the game!

i LOVE Kelly Wearstler eye for color and admire her work dearly.
Wouldn't you love to be a guest at her dinner party?  look she is using one varietal of flower-peonies


1 comment:

  1. Excellent article. Cool. Looking towards reading more. Fantastic article.