Hosting A Home Fete
Savannah, Georgia-based event and wedding planner Elizabeth Demos is known for creating flawless events. Also a photo stylist, each party she produces has her signature feel of being exquisitely planned from top to bottom, down to the smallest detail. She loves to incorporate surprise touches, such as bespoke invitations, vintage serving platters, beautiful linens and lush flowers. She shares these ideas, and much more, in her first book, Vintage Wedding Style, available in late 2012 (pre-order here).
In the meantime, she gave us these tips on throwing a thoughtful gathering at home.
• Determine your budget. It seems like the least glamorous part of event planning, but it helps determine the menu selection, ambiance and guest count.
• Look for inspiration. Your cues could come from the season, time of day, menu or a particular theme. Is it a cookout, a birthday party, a fancy dinner, a cocktail party or a potluck? Each answer will lend itself to a particular color palette and determine the overall look and feel.
• Plan your menu. Unless you’re an expert chef, do a test run on new recipes. Prepare make-ahead recipes so the day of the event you’re not running around or getting overheated in the kitchen.
• Design and send the invitations. They can be complicated or simple, depending on your event design.
• Always have a well-stocked bar. If you’re hiring a bartender, they often provide basic mixers, garnishes and ice, but double check to avoid a last-minute run to the liquor store. If you are not hiring a bartender, just make sure you have a good assortment of liquor on hand (bourbon, vodka, rum, gin, scotch and tequila). I also suggest mixers (vermouth, bitters, cointreau), juice (orange, cranberry, grapefruit), club soda, tonic and a nice variety of red and white wine. Buy a lot of ice and have garnishes on hand.
• Rent or purchase dishware and supplies. Frequent entertainers opt to purchase, but there are loads of rental companies that provide glassware, flatware and dishes for parties big and small. They are also a great source for tables, seating and linens.
• Good lighting is a necessity and often overlooked. Your location might look perfectly respectable in daylight, but you should have a plan for sundown.
The fun stuff:
• Dream. You can always reel it in if your ideas get out of control, but dreaming allows you to really explore all the possibilities.
• Have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember you are entertaining people, not boring them. Keep it lively. Apply this to decor, music, activities (croquet, corn hole, outdoor movie, dancing) and flavors.
• Inviting great guests is a sure fire way to have a successful evening. A mix of ages, life experiences and personalities makes for good conversation.
• Table settings and centerpieces are the places to explore your inner florist/designer. Take cues from your theme, and do a dry run to be sure it all looks the way you envisioned it would.
• Presentation is key. Whether you make it, bring it in or it is semi-homemade, present your food on beautiful dishes that pull your look together. Decant liquor, use pretty serving pieces, and dress the entire display with good-quality linens.
To learn more about Elizabeth Demos, visit www.elizabethdemos.com.