By Maya Millar
Take a cue from the glamorous bashes attended by all the A-list celebs and create an upscale cocktail lounge in your own backyard where you and all your hipster friends can sit back, relax, see and be seen. Here are some ideas to get you started.
All White Party: Take inspiration from hip hop mogul, Diddy’s glitzy annual All White Party and ask your guests to wear only white. No off-white or beige gets through the door.
Naughty or Nice Party: Have your guests show their true colours based on their choice of clothing: all black attire if they’re naughty, or white from head to toe if they’re nice.
Invest in some high-quality card stock in white and print the pertinent details (be sure to let the guest know about the strict dress code in effect) in a modern font, such as Bodoni or Walbaum for a crisp, clean look. To elevate your party invite to another level of exclusivity, inform your guests of the party’s date and time on the invite but keep the event location secret until the day of—just like they do in Hollywood to keep the paparazzi at bay—and email the location to guests the night before your party.
An upscale lounge is all about clean lines. Keep the decor modern and uncomplicated but make sure it is still warm and inviting. For lighting go with something sleek, such as Foscarini’s outdoor Havana lamp, to give your outdoor space a soft glow. Create a seating area (have some fun by roping off a “VIP section”) by setting some mid-century modern chairs (such as the Panton chair in white—they’re plastic so they’re outdoor-friendly, and they’ll look just as chic when you bring them indoors to use) around a small side table. Or, if you prefer the look of club chairs, there are tons of options made of woven PVC that will give the look you want, while also withstanding the elements.
The focus of this party, though, is for mingling, so make sure there is a good flow to your set-up. If you have your appetizers on a table in the middle of the main space, make sure you can easily move the table aside to create a dance floor — with the cocktails flowing, as the night goes on people will definitely want some space to dance. Avoid using a grassy area, though, as ladies wearing heels will just sink their stilettos into the soft soil.
If you’re using an all-white or black-and-white dress code, have your tableware follow suit, and liven it up with some sparkle—sprinkle some silver confetti on the tablecloth, use mirrored napkin rings and place tealights in simple, clear glass holders throughout the intimate space. Add some natural greenery in large simple vases (try palm fronds for a South Beach vibe).
All the chicest hot spots have a chilled out vibe thanks to their carefully edited music playlist. House music, such as Verve Remixed CDs or House of Om, will give your party a laid-back but happening mood. If you want to kick things up a notch and get everyone dancing, make sure to have a playlist of the latest hot dance songs ready. For a more upbeat atmostphere, try playing some salsa or Cuban music, from José Alberto, Sergio Mendes, Afro Cuban All Stars or Nuyorican Soul, to name just a few.
Cocktail and Menu Ideas
A chic, modern lounge calls for martinis. Offer a few different types: Cosmos, Sour Apple or Dirty martinis perhaps. If you’re game for whipping up Mojitos — they can be time-consuming to make — they are crowd-pleasers, as well. For a drink option that’s much less labour-intensive (after all, you’ll want to be schmoozing with all of your guests, not tending bar all night), stock your fridge and coolers with mini bottles of Champagne so everyone at your party can help themselves to some individual bottles of bubbly.
As for food, sushi is always a chic, surefire hit. Set up a table with a platter of sushi, with small plates and chopsticks — and soy sauce, wasabi and ginger, of course. Other than sushi, try these canapés that you can prep in advance and have a few wait staff or friends distribute:
• Endive leaves with olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade
• Gazpacho served in shot glasses
• Crostini topped with grilled mushrooms and goat cheese
• Scallop ceviche served in martini glasses
To end the evening with a sweet fix, set up a candy bar by filling glass hurricanes with a variety of candy, such as jujubes, gumballs and lollipops, that guests can help themselves to.
Lay down a red carpet in front of a backdrop for the “paparazzi” (i.e., the party guest who’s been given the responsibility of picture-taking) to snap photos of partygoers.
What would a glam party be without a swag bag? Pick up a petite gift bag and fill it with some luxe goodies for your guests to take home — a lip gloss, scented candle or an organic chocolate bar are a few items you can fill include. Or send your guests home with a champagne or martini glass that they can fill with sweets from the candy bar.