11 secrets for a successful party
- Next1 of 12Glo
- Previous Next2 of 12Courtesy of Sudhir Kandula
- Previous Next3 of 12David Tillman 2010
- Previous Next4 of 12John David Raper
- Previous Next5 of 12Courtesy of Andrew & Andrew
- Previous Next6 of 12Courtesy of Jason Young
- Previous Next7 of 12Courtesy of Pippa Lord
- Previous Next8 of 12Courtesy of Suzanna Lee
- Previous Next9 of 12Kasia Gatkowska
- Previous Next10 of 12Jen St. John Photography
- Previous Next11 of 12Courtesy of Allegra LaVida
- Previous Next12 of 12Courtesy of William Richmond-Watson
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Good Times1 of 12
By Brienne Walsh
Searching for the magic ingredient to turn your so-so soiree into a smashing success? Look no further. From party tricks to memorable menus, eleven consummate hosts share their secrets to throwing an unforgettable fete.
Top Chef2 of 12
My wife and I do cook-offs with friends—they always foster jovial trash talking," says Sudhir Kandula, advisor & investor of technology and food startups in New York City and runner-up on America's Next Great Restaurant (NBC). "Happy adversaries are always good things for a dinner party, and having a group of artists cook against a group of bankers, or an American/Japanese couple cook against an Indian/Swedish husband-and-wife team, makes for a more fun and interesting party!
High Drama3 of 12
"Choose a theme that transports your guests to a new place," says Michael Cirino, founder and creative director of a razor, a shiny knife. "One party we threw revolved around a short story by Ernest Hemingway and for another we tapped into the macabre Victorian undercurrent of London. All of the food was completely black, and the servers wore black with lace covering their mouths."
Popping Up4 of 12
"My father taught me to pop my own corn, so I like to prepare some for an easy snack to serve as guests arrive," says Aaron Oster, executive chef at the Kitchen Porch in Martha's Vineyard, Mass. "The smell always grabs people and it's easily shared and can be eaten with your hands—plus, it's gluten free!"
Go Big5 of 12
"If you have a lot of one thing, it makes the party seem more decadent, even in a small apartment. A gigantic bowl of M&Ms, for example. Or 32 champagne glasses in a tower," say Andrew and Andrew, DJ's and "Men About Town" in New York City.
Outside the Box6 of 12
"Christmas trees are fun but take up too much space at parties. Instead, I wrap a bunch of hollow boxes, and make a meandering snake of gifts that crawl up the wall to the ceiling," says Jason Young, performance artist and filmmaker in New York City.
Social Network7 of 12
"As part of your invite, send out a special 'hashtag' to mark the occasion," says Pippa Lord, founder of Sous Style and photo director at ELLE in New York City. Think #brittsbday or #megsbabyshower. "The hashtag initiates social media buzz among your guests and enables you to create a visual archive of all the fun on Twitter and Instagram," says Lord.
Game Plan8 of 12
A classic party trick: Tell guests that the seating chart was arranged based on commonalities. "Everyone will immediately start talking to try and figure out what they have in common," says Suzanna Lee, a film distributor in New York City. "When the time comes for each to announce their findings, you then reveal to your guests that you had no clue what they might share. By this time, they're already fast friends!"
Veg Out9 of 12
Forget afternoon tea: "For lunch we always serve a fresh-made vegetable juice," says May Vervoordt, author of At Home With May and Axel Vervoordt: Recipes for Every Season. "In addition to the nutritional benefits, it helps to awaken the palate. One of my favorites is green apple with spinach, mint and gingerroot juice."
Get Personal10 of 12
"I like making menus for each place setting because it not only shares with guests what will be served, but provides a souvenir they can keep to remember the meal," says Troy Williams, owner of Simply Troy Lifestyle + Events in Los Angeles. "Personalize each one with the guest's name at the top and it can also act as a place card or create your own monogram or logo with a title for the event."
Musical Chairs11 of 12
"When arranging the seating, separate people who know each other (or are in a relationship) into different sections of the table," says Allegra LaViola, owner of Allegra LaViola Gallery in New York City. Want to be more adventurous? Switch seats after each course. "Moving around helps facilitate conversation and gets you to interact with people you might not have had a chance to speak to all night," says LaViola.
Good Spirits12 of 12
"Even if it's a small dinner, always have a self-service bar to give your guests a place other than the table to have a drink," says William Richmond-Watson, owner and creative director of Watson & Company. "Hopefully they will be up dancing to your playlist, which, if you plan it right, should crescendo and pick up in beat towards the end of the meal to keep the party going.