The fall event season kicks off with New York Fashion Week and then moves from book launch, to product launch all the way along until early December. Holiday parties basically start right after Halloween. Events have become increasingly competitive because jaded New Yorkers have seen everything and drawing a crowd of press worthy influencers is no easy task. There is a reason Alexander Wang and Riccardo Tisci lean on friend LadyFag for their post show parties in New York; a good time is an easy request in Manhattan. If your attention is not kept active then your mind wonders and you wander down the block. Locals are balancing personal life with social life and visitors have a laundry list of places that are better than yours if you do not deliver.
From dinner parties to holiday parties, art shows to fashion shows, parties with a purpose to parties with no purpose...I have headed up my fair share of events. There have been moments in my "Party Girl" diary where I have impersonated an avant-garde photographer, emceed a fashion show or played dutiful husband while slaving over range and grill to deliver the gumbo. I have no plans for a book or a barrage of tablescape photos filling my Instagram but there are some lessons learned and a few observations worth sharing.
Power in the guest list: Probably the number one reason to attend an event is the networking possibilities. After a cocktail or two, people tend to be brave enough to spark an interaction that might not happen in the 9-5 world. These moments could be a business idea or just asking someone on a date but if the guest list is edited to just the right amount of power, your people will want to come and stay. What is power? That is a tricky question but the following attributes all count: Smarts, Looks, Money, Worldliness, Humor, Kindness, Sex Appeal or maybe just the people you invite because they always get on the dance floor first.
Hosts: These are specific people you trust to come and help you in the mission of creating a good time. Sometimes they are paid and work as a Public Relations Liaison or maybe they are a friend who just owes you a favor. Hosts are really important because they are generally fearless and ignite conversations or herd people into the proper direction. Don't underestimate the need of hosts and by all means pay back the favor when it is due.
Amazing Fare: You can literally serve anything or nothing as long as it is bite sized and does not stain your teeth. The one thing to be aware of is just about everyone has seen those little grilled cheese on lucite trays so be original...this does not mean you have to serve pulled buffalo meat on a tree limb (yeah, I had that once) but something to keep people from starving or getting too drunk. If you are serving alcohol and plan on having a bar...MAKE SURE YOU BUY ENOUGH BOOZE AND HIRE ENOUGH STAFF. The worst parties in NYC have you wait in line the entire duration of the event to receive one warm glass of cheap prosecco served in plastic.
New Entertainment: This is the most exciting part of throwing an event; helping creative people get exposure. Let your imagination run wild because everyone wants to talk about what they did last night and standing around drinking cheap prosecco with a tired format just isn't going to cut it. Invite some freaky people to look at or launch a new creative outlet; whatever the moment becomes will be magic. Artists are testy people so always have multiple back up plans in place...a few suggestions to get your mind going could be a sexy singer in a glass box, a giant raving squid or a funny, bilingual caricature artist.
Targeted Interests: Consider the guest's interests and incorporate details that will be informative or supportive to the cause. Easy options are charities or artists as they will have a built in network but you can dig in a little deeper to give exposure to a topic. Performances and exhibits are great but you might try a guest speaker so that attendees leave with knowledge rather than just another gift bag. Learning something new is a way for your event to become something of a viral message and increase the turn out for the next gathering
Lastly, do not trust the RSVP list. It never fails that right before an event there is a massive amount of stress over not enough or too many people showing up. If too many guests arrive do not be afraid to cap the door...use the old Fire Marshall excuse and keep the crowd from being too congested. If your party turns out to be a bust; try to recycle as much of the expense as possible by creating a few small "pop up" events shortly after. Be strategic and creative; maybe that cheap prosecco turns into mimosas the following day.