“I think people get paralyzed about throwing a party these days because they want everything to be perfect,” says Joe Nye, an L.A.-based interior designer and party planner. “The notion of throwing a party and cooking their own food and arranging their own flowers and doing the invitation is a lost art. People have forgotten how easy it is to do.”
Just how much have they forgotten?
“I was at a party with 12 people, and it was a catered event. Can’t you boil eggs and make deviled eggs?” Nye asks, incredulously. “Even if you’re not a great cook, get one recipe down and use that for every party.”
Bringing back the essence and simplicity of entertaining is the goal of Nye’s new book, “Flair” (Rizzoli, 2010). “My book focuses on the invitation, the flowers and the table setting,” Nye says.
Here, Nye offers simple style tips that will make any shower, party or full-on wedding a success.
“The invitation sets the tone,” Nye says. Case in point: For a picnic-fare fete he hosted, the invites were simply done with red Sharpie on heavy card stock. “Everyone knew they were coming to a party that wasn’t going to be fancy or fussy.”
The wedding invitation, he says, is important because it tells the recipient what type of wedding it’s going to be. “A lot of brides pick out a sort of invitation that’s not evocative of what kind of wedding it’s going to be.”
For an invite that’s on-target, Nye suggests visiting a local stationery store for inspiration for the type of party you’ll throw. “If it’s a casual wedding … then make the invitation follow suit and have it be more casual so guests know what they’re up against on the day,” he says.
An unabashed carnation lover, Nye is a big proponent of taking flowers from the grocery story and making them look chic. “The carnation is a much-maligned flower, but it’s very prettily used in a big grouping. En masse, four or five bunches, they smell divine and they last forever,” he says. In fact, it was large but low carnations that he used for the centerpieces at a bridal shower he recently hosted. “You want to make sure the centerpieces are so low that everyone can see each other.”
Nye’s other go-to grocery-store blooms: A lstroemeria, chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies.
The Table Settings
Don’t be afraid to get a little creative when it comes to picking out place settings – for a party or your registry.
“I don’t like everything matching. I think it makes for an indelibly boring table,” Nye says. Instead, buy a set in different patterns, and don’t be afraid to arrange potential settings when you’re at the store. “It makes for a much more interesting table,” Nye says.
Flea markets, thrift shops and consignments stores are great places to stock up on housewares – whether you’re DIY-ing your wedding or stocking your own kitchen cabinets. “Try to buy things that are more multifunctional. Buy a bowl that you can serve soup in, that you can serve a salad in, ice cream. Try to find a universal size.”
Nye employs a minimalist mentality at home. “I have one kind of stemware in my china cabinet. It’s one size, one pattern, one everything. I couldn’t be bothered with having a different glass for every kind of beverage.”
Nye reminds brides to keep it simple. “Brides tend to want to try out all of their bridal ideas all at the same time, and that’s where they make the big mistake.”
Don’t be intimidated.“Enjoy the delight of having a party, which is supposed to be a festive and fun thing to do,” Nye says.
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