A good party begins with proper planning. We should know; we’ve thrown quite a few of our own. Hosting can be daunting at times, and the combination of food, drinks, and guests can make or break a night. We recently talked to some of the experts about how to throw the quintessential fall hang, from setting the vibe to what to imbibe to the tools you need to make your party run even smoother.
Schedule that last-minute cleaning service and make your playlist a week ahead—and don’t forget to charge that Bose speaker! Check your candle inventory (you could probably use one in the bathroom), and pick up an extra click lighter or two, too.
On the day of the main event, don’t forget to pick up some extra beer and wine and stop by the florist for some fall flowers to spruce up the place. And remember to consider how you’ll show those new stems off. “When preparing for a party and envisioning the event, one of the first things I consider is flowers and vessels. Do you have the perfect vases already?” asks Elizabeth Cronin, owner of Asrai Garden, one of Chicago’s top florists. “Obviously I think more is more with florals, but minimal flowers strategically placed can also be beautiful. I first consider the occasion and mood. For a fun fall hang, I would dot the room in small ceramic jars with wild native grasses and other pretty field flowers like wild allium, blueberry viburnum, rudbeckia, and Queen Anne’s Lace.”
Setting the Tone
There’s a time for a formal sit-down dinner and a time for tried-and-true takeout and wine. What we’ve landed on is something in between. Think chill, stylish, and informal—where you can easily catch up with old friends but also meet someone new. Choosing the right drink is one great way to set the tone. “Choosing a cocktail for a party is all about the theme and the audience,” says Lee Zaremba, beverage director for Boka Restaurant Group, which includes the Michelin star Boka and award-winning spots like Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and more.
When Lee plans a party, he aims to please. “Typically it’s something lighter that’s approachable but tasty. Punch works great for this, especially topped with sparkling wine. If there are multiple options, sometimes I’ll make something boozy and balanced so there’s something to contrast against the light and citrus beverages others may be making. Whiskey is always a winner in my book.”
The best parties seem to happen in the kitchen, but that goes beyond great apps. Give guests something interactive to do and break the ice by setting up an easy make-your-own pizza station. Everyone loves pizza, and it relieves the host from all of that cooking and catering to guests’ food preferences. Set out some colorful dishes like those from Le Creuset to add vibrance, and sprinkle in some crowd favorite snacks while guests wait to step up to the Breville Smart Oven® Pizzaiolo to make their own flatbread.
“The perfect party requires a good host, and you can’t be a good host if you’re hiding in the kitchen or sweating over a stovetop when the party-goers arrive,” says Chef Edward Kim of beloved Asian restaurant Mott Street in Chicago. “I like to have dishes that taste great at room temperature—crudités, charcuterie, and finger foods that aren’t too messy that can be set out before the guests arrive so you have less things to be stressed about.”
The right dinnerware makes a difference, too. Its appearance is just as important as the food, according to Manuel Torres, head of design at Costa Nova Tableware and Casafina. “They both reflect your personal style,” Manuel says. “It all comes down to one simple mantra: Be yourself and have a good time. If you love color, show your guests how to mix and match colors and shapes and set a joyful and versatile table.”
You can also have a snack or dessert ready to go when you prepare a treat ahead of time in the Wolf Gourmet Multi-Function Cooker, so you don’t have to keep guests salivating.
1 bottle (25.36-oz) Tabernero Pisco Italia
12-oz lime juice
48-oz ginger ale
Take pisco and gooseberries and blend on medium for 1 minute. Pour into punch bowl with rest of ingredients and stir. Serve over ice and enjoy!
Recipe by Lee Zaremba, Boka Restaurant Group
This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Sixtysix with the headline “How We Party.” Subscribe today.
Produced by Studio Sixtysix
Words by Laura Rote
Photos by Samer Almadani
Prop Styling by Adrienne Blumthal
Studio Sixtysix is the in-house creative agency to Sixtysix magazine. Studio Sixtysix stories are conceived, produced, and edited by Studio Sixtysix.