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The Post Modern Handbook: Hosting



In this day and age, hosting an elegant affair seems a lost art. We live in a world where the Facebook event is considered an acceptable method of invitation, and the standard party favor is a red cup in which to pour your BYO Bud light. Our ultimate entertainment guru is an ex-felon, and our widespread exposure to “classy” dinner parties comes in heavily Botoxed catfight form on the “Real Housewives” franchise. It’s no wonder we’ve gone astray.

But hope has not vanished. If the existence of Pinterest and Sandra Lee (she really does try, y’all) is any indication, it seems there is a true desire to rekindle the hospitality of yore. With a little guidance and some contemporary adaptations, we can collectively restore honor to the home-hosted event. Whether a casual cocktail hour or formal sit-down dinner, your post-modern party can easily be one for the ages by following these five simple guidelines.

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT

When planning an event, it is important to work within your limitations—specifically, your budget, time and space constraints.

live in a tiny apartment on an artist’s salary? An intimate potluck may be your best option. Cut costs by making one or two dishes, and leave your guests to supply the rest. Just make sure to give attendees some guidance as to what to bring. Three bowls of guacamole does not make a meal, no matter how good avocados are this season.

Have a larger space and roomier resources, but little time to prepare? A large cocktail party may be more suited to your schedule. Create a signature cocktail, buy a case of your favorite wine or champagne, and prepare an array of simple, easy-to- assemble hors d’oeuvres from high-quality ingredients. You’ll be surprised how much pleasure guests derive from a well- presented cheese plate and some smoked salmon, especially when they’re accompanied by a glass (or six) of anything you need an ID to purchase. Food tastes at least 20% better when paired with alcohol. That is a fact.

And for those with time, money, and a dining room table, consider the crème de la crème of home hosting: the dinner party. Doing it right takes weeks of preparation, so designate ample time to menu-plan, decorate, and contemplate your guest list to avoid the aforementioned “Real Housewives” scenario. If that’s too much work, just hire a caterer.

PRESENTATION

THEME

Now that you’ve decided what type of party you’ll be hosting, it’s time to settle on a theme to guide your food, beverage, and decorative choices. You can be as abstract or literal as you’d like, but do your best to avoid clichés. If your first impulse would also work for a toddler’s birthday party or sorority mixer, you may want to reconsider.

Inspiration can come from any source, so if you’re wanting for ideas, look to a favorite painting, landscape, or architectural feature for color schemes and design motifs to incorporate into your menu and décor. The key is to choose something that speaks to your personal style. While your theme must take into account the occasion, it should, more importantly, serve as a reflection of your own exquisite taste.

INVITATIONS

Nowadays, formal invitations are traditionally reserved for special events like weddings, bar mitzvahs, and Super Sweet 16s. This is a shame, because aside from providing logistical information and guest accountability via RSVP, a good invitation generates excitement about your event.

While USPS could certainly use your business, email invitations are acceptable. If you have Photoshop or Illustrator skills, design an invite that suits your theme. If you don’t, employ a tech- savvy friend who does (just be sure they’re on the guest list), or check out sites like pingg.com or paperlesspost.com for chic, customizable e-vites.

DÉCOR

When designing your partyscape, never underestimate the power of GFC: glassware, flowers, and candles. these three elements can be tailored to fit any budget or color scheme, and can give even the sparsest of living spaces a warm, inviting atmosphere.

if you’re looking to cut down party costs, scour local thrift stores for mixable, matchable glasses, plates, platters, and vases. Purchase local, seasonal flowers, and get creative with your candle displays. A 30-pack of unscented white votives costs $15 on average, and provides endless possibilities for cozy, glow-y loveliness. Pinterest is an incredible source for creative, affordable decoration ideas.

By Diana Siegel

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