Summer is over and so is our hiatus!
We are excited to announce that Notes on a Party will relaunch today as a new digital media property that celebrates the art of entertaining. Our expanded editorial will cover Events from the Inside Out™ (which is also our new tag line). Expect daily posts or “notes” on the most talented vendors in New York, cool resources from the Web, original gift ideas and tips on party planning. We'll bring you behind-the-scenes at some of the most glamorous events in town to show you how it's done. And, we've added a few new featured columns which include:
Entertaining made simple with a little help from the experts
It’s My Party
Amazing venues for all types of events
Inside scoop on VIP parties from talented vendors & celebrity guests
A peek into the coveted rolodex of a seasoned event planner
Also, we've added an Ask Celia button so that you can ask us anything you want about your next party or tell us what you are interested in reading about. The best questions/ideas will be posted each month.
Here's what you need to know:
Email subscriptions: many of you love getting your "notes" delivered right to your inbox. If you subscribed on the old site, your email will automatically be added to the list for our new weekly newsletter.
Our address has changed: notesonaparty.blogspot.com has been changed to www.notesonaparty.com. Bookmark the new URL for easy reference.
And, finally, a big THANK YOU to our amazing partners Base Design and Mutant Media who worked around the clock on the redesign of the web site and newsletter. We love the fresh, new look and easy navigation and we hope you will too!
Visit the new Notes on a Party and tell us what you think!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Summer is over and so is our hiatus!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Last night Notes On A Party produced its first event and it was B-I-G.
Seriously, we are not just tooting our own horn here. Given the venue - the new Frank Gehry designed IAC Headquarters on the West Side Highway and the high profile guests in attendance - impressive might be a better word.
The event was for the Founders Club, a group of the top Internet CEOs and entrepreneurs in Silicon Alley who have created an ongoing event series to facilitate deals between start-ups, media companies and venture capitalists.
Dina Kaplan, the COO of blip.tv by day and driving force behind Founders Club by night, let us collaborate on the planning of this event, the third in the series. Naturally, we had to invite our favorite vendors and partners to join us.
Lucid Food, an eco-conscious catering and events company run by Justin Jones and Luisa Shafia, handled the menu of savory and sweet organic treats including smoked trout canapes, wild mushroom tortas and fresh raspberry cheesecake. Elizabeth Ryan designed the modern and architectural arrangements of Japanese fan leaves and small bud vases of white roses.
Chopin Vodka, a Moet Hennessy brand, featured the Classic CEO Martini made with 2oz of chilled potato vodka shaken and served with three (decadent) stuffed olives.
Corcoran Group's Deanna Kory team previewed their new luxury properties and raffled an iPhone while Silverjet let guests try their luck at winning 2 coveted seats on their new all business class flight to London. The Manhattan based VC Greenhill SAVP rounded out the sponsors.
For me, there were some old clients, friends and familiar faces in the crowd including: Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman of Nerve Media (who publish the amazing online parenting magazine Babble); Graham Hill of Treehugger (just recently acquired by Discovery); Lorien Gabel of Ping Interactive (a soon to be rival to Evite); Margo Spiritus of CSTV Networks; Joseph Varet of LX.TV; Charles Sommer of DoubleAgent; Doug Scott of Ogilvy; Jon Patricof of Tribeca Enterprises; and, Lisa Blau of the health and wellness newsletter Vital Juice.
What was especially thrilling for a young entrepreneur was rubbing shoulders with some of Silicon Alley's most notable names - Alan Patricof (Greycroft), Esther Dyson (EDventure), Kevin Ryan (formerly of Doubleclick) and Henry Blodget.
For a first event, hosting at IAC was quite the premiere for our little start-up. Although I have to say that we felt quite at home in the hallowed halls of their $100 million glass house.
Let's just hope Barry Diller feels the same way about us.
For Henry Blodget's take on the event, check out his post on Silicon Alley Insider.
For a complete slide show, visit Caroline McCarthy's blog, The Social on CNET.
Monday, July 30, 2007
We know we've been a little quiet lately. Contrary to popular belief we are not away on assignment in Ibiza covering the party scene on the beach. Although we'd like to be!
There are exciting changes happening here at Notes On A Party. Over the past few weeks, we have been busy redesigning and building the new site. It will relaunch in August with new columns, content categories and functionality as well as a weekly newsletter. New features will continue to be added over the next few months. That's all we're saying for now but we will be in touch soon with more details. We don't want to ruin the big surprise!
We did want to take the chance to thank all of you for your (overwhelming) enthusiasm and encouragement so far. All of your comments, questions and thoughts have been very helpful. Keep writing to us via email or preferably by posting a comment for everyone to see. (those reading this note in an email will need to click on the title to go to the site to post a comment)
We are thrilled that you enjoy receiving our notes. We promise to return with more original entertaining ideas and insider tips for all those amazing parties you are planning. Just don't forget to invite us!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The idea of a wedding registry is appealing. You get to ask for all of the lovely things you want and your loved ones get to buy them for you. But, once you start shopping, you realize just how overwhelming it can be. Faced with endless Wedgwood china patterns, Baccarat crystal goblets and Lalique vases, you decide to seek out something a little simpler.
If your style is more Cali (as in California) than Connecticut, Heath Ceramics may be the perfect alternative to those formal registries. Founded by Edith Heath in 1948, Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining mid-century American potteries still in existence. They are known for their beautiful handcrafted tableware including bowls, plates, pitchers, serving pieces, vases and tea sets.
Over 40 skilled artisans (many of them have been with the company for 20+ years) create the unique products on premise at their factory in Sausalito, California. Their stoneware clay bodies are fired at low temperatures to create durable and non-porous products. All of their glazes are original and natural to complement the raw beauty of clay. The look may be laid-back but these pieces have pedigree. Some are featured in the permanent collection at the MOMA.
Recently, Heath Ceramics collaborated with artists including clothing and housewares designer, Christina Kim of DOSA, and chef and food visionary, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse to create limited edition collections. Kim's Phases of the Moon Tea Set ($260), which features 4 tea cups and a tray, is a unique gift idea.
Online registries are available on the Heath Ceramics website as well as retail stores such as Barney's New York and Moss.
You can feel good about starting your new life with tableware from a company that prides itself on having strong American values. Not only do they produce all of their high quality products at their factory in the US, they adhere to strict environmental standards and maintain a fair and responsible workplace.
Photos by Renee Zellweger
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
It may be pretty in pink but don't be fooled by appearances.
Sophisticated palates know that a good rosé is dryer, bigger and bolder than ever before. It has more depth than a white and can stand on its own with the big reds. A perfect accompaniment to many types of cuisine, rosé is equally at home with a hearty meat or a delicate fish.
In fact, rosé is fast becoming the drink of choice of stylish Americans who have taken a cue from their European, jet set counterparts. Domaine Ott, one of the trendier brands, has become a fashion staple during the summer months.
To help you navigate the new world of rosé, I reached out to Jennifer Ayre of Savvy Cellar Wines in San Francisco, a certified sommelier and specialist of wine, to give you some insider advice.
Rosé is best when it is young
Contrary to what you have been taught about wine, rosé is at its peak when it is young and fresh. Look for bottles that are less than a year or two old.
Get the temperature just right
Americans tend to over chill their white and rosé wine. Serving it icy cold kills the flavor. Take the wine out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before serving. On the other hand, if the bottle is too warm, the fastest way to cool it down is to place it in a small container filled with water and ice.
Freeze the bubbly
When its comes to sparkling wine and champagne, the colder the better. In this case, a few minutes in the freezer before serving does wonders for anything with bubbles.
Good wine does not have to be expensive
Jennifer started Savvy Cellar Wines, both a wine bar and shop, to provide consumers with high quality wines at affordable prices. Her team of sommeliers only seek out wines that are rated 90 points or higher by leading wine publications and that are $39 or less.
Some of her favorite rosé wines are:
from Australia . . .
06 The Colonial Estate "Enchanteur" - $24
06 Turkey Flat Rose - $18
06 Angove's Nine Vines South Australia - $12
from California . . .
05 Bonny Doon Vin Gris De Cigare - $14
06 Tablas Creek Rose - $25
from France . . .
06 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rose - $30
06 Mas de la Dame Les Baux de Provence Rose du Mas - $13
And for bubbles . . .
Schramsberg Brut Rose Sparkling wine - $42
Piper-Heidsieck Brut Rose Champagne - $40
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne NV - $55
If you are near downtown Redwood City near San Francisco, visit Jennifer at Savvy Cellar Wines (2048 Broadway, 650-363-8737) or go to their web site to inquire about out of state shipping.
For local New York readers needing a quick fix, bring Jennifer's coveted list to Union Square Wines. Until July 8th, the wine shop is offering 25% off a wide selection of their rosé wines!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
When temperatures start to rise, there is a mass exodus out of New York City. Whether to Montauk or St. Tropez, we do whatever we can to bring the party to the beach.
But, there are always a few weekends when you just can't get away.
My advice on how to beat the heat? Gather some friends and host a summertime dinner of chilled crab claws and lobster rolls.
For starters, order Red King Crab Lollipops from Seabear, an online retailer famous for their smoked wild salmon. These big meaty claws served on ice in a glass bowl will make a grand statement as an appetizer. Two pounds of fully cooked claws ($85.99) will be shipped to you via Fed Ex Day Air Express.
Mary's Fish Camp (64 Charles Street, 646-486-2185) has arguably the best lobster roll in town and they allow take-out for parties greater than 6 if you order 24 hours in advance. If you don't live in the West Village or in Park Slope (their sister restaurant is Brooklyn Fish Camp, 162 Fifth Avenue, 718-783-3264), Dean and Deluca online is the next best option. They will ship two 12 oz tubs of lobster salad with 8 split-top rolls ($135.00) direct from their supplier for next day delivery.
For something a little sweet and decadent, serve coconut cupcakes from Crumbs Bakeshop ($2.95 each) with a glass of champagne for dessert. There are locations all over the city so if you don't have time, have one of your guests pick them up on the way.
To get the party started but to keep things cool, I like to offer guests a chilled shooter of ice cold Absolut Citron rimmed with Stirrings Lemon Drop sugar. Crate and Barrel has a great set of vodka shooters that comes with a bowl for easy presentation. During dinner, serve something light and refreshing like a spritzer made with dry white wine with a splash of club soda and a twist of lemon.
Keep tabletop décor at a minimum. All white china on crisp white linens, a few tapered white candles and bowls filled with fragrant lemons gives a fresh look. For lazy summer nights, I still love the Garden State soundtrack. It's a great mix of chill yet sultry tunes from Coldplay, Zero 7, Frou Frou and Thievery Corporation that will help transport you out of the hot, sticky city.
Friday, June 22, 2007
If you were a girl growing up in the 80's, you were most definitely a fan of Duran Duran. In my group of friends, you were either madly in love with lead singer Simon Le Bon or bassist John Taylor.
Given my longtime "appreciation" for the band, I could hardly pass up an invitation to meet them at a private party (organized by Epic Records, Magus Entertainment and my friend Karrie Goldberg of Kage Konsulting) at The Xchange (640 West 28th Street) on Monday night. Not only is the 5000 square foot space one of the coolest new industrial lofts in the city but it's outfitted with an incredible custom Funktion One sound system. It was a real shame Duran Duran did not perform.
Actually, they had played but on the night before at an intimate concert at Hammerstein Ballroom for members of their fan club. Their set included favorites including Hungry Like The Wolf, Come Undone, Girls on Film and Lonely in Your Nightmare. For an encore, a new song called , "Nite Runner," was introduced.
At least all four members of Duran Duran (Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor) were at the party to celebrate their upcoming album, Red Carpet Massacre, which will be released in October by Epic Records. Special guest producers and guest stars on the album include Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Nat "Danja Handz" Hills.
DJ Eve Salvail kept the party hopping with upbeat tunes mixed in with the occasional new Duran Duran song such as "Skin Diver" and "Box Full of Honey." Chopin Vodka and 10 Cane Rum created specialty cocktails for each new track on the album. The crowd was a diverse group of fans, press, industry types and an eclectic list of VIPs including Moby, chef Rocco DiSpirito, artists John Currin and Rachel Feinstein as well as Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees.
Although I got to hang out with various members of Duran Duran who mingled with the crowd throughout the night, I was drawn to the far corner of the room. A staff photographer was stationed in front of life-size paper cut-outs of Simon, John, Nick and Roger for an ongoing photo shoot with the guests. It was a hilarious and entertaining element to the party.
I just had to get my photo taken. It's not every night a girl can say she's with the band.......
If you are reading this post in an email or reader, click here to view complete the slide show.
To book an event at The Xchange, contact Karrie Goldberg of Kage Konsulting at 646-873-4999.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Your vodka of choice is an ultra-luxury brand. It's made from glacier water and winter wheat that is freeze filtered for its clean, pure taste. Are you really going to mix it with Ocean Spray cranberry? I think not.
Remember, all mixers are not created equal. For discerning palettes, try stocking your bar with premium fruit juices like GuS Soda which comes in all sorts of grown-up flavors like Dry Crimson Grape, Star Ruby Grapefruit and Dry Valencia Orange. Foodies love this brand - it's even served at Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant by a sommelier who will pair a complementary flavor to your order for those seeking a non-alcoholic alternative. Seriously.
All of GuS Sodas are 100% natural, pasteurized, kosher and made with real fruit juice and soda for a light taste. For a great summertime cocktail, mix chilled vodka (super premium, of course) with Dry Meyer Lemon soda and serve over crushed ice and mint in a tall, thin glass. At 90-98 calories per 12oz bottle and only lightly sweetened with natural cane sugar, you can imbibe with less guilt (and perhaps a smaller chance of a hangover in the morning).
GuS is available at Whole Foods, Citarella, Gourmet Garage and other upscale, specialty food shops such as Dean & Deluca and Murray's Cheese. If you want to order a few cases for a party, try Mitchell's New York (800-662-2275) who will deliver in Manhattan to your home or office.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Heading to the Hamptons this weekend? Make sure you pack a bikini as well as a cocktail dress. A typical weekend at the beach on this strip of Long Island is filled with all sorts of parties from casual BBQ's to black tie benefits. But, while the parties may be plentiful, the taxis are not. What's a responsible social butterfly to do?
Call Lilybug Scooters (866-678-Lily (5459)) a new service that launched in May 2007 that offers a safe and alternate way to get home after a few too many mojitos. They supply the driver, you supply the car. Here's how it works:
The chauffeur arrives at the party on a scooter. The scooter folds up into a 2 foot square and goes into the trunk of your car. The experienced (and sober) driver gets behind the wheel of your vehicle and drives you and your guests to the next party or home.
Having a personal chauffeur for a night of party-hopping? Luxurious.
Not having to pick up your Range Rover in the parking lot of Pink Elephant the next morning? Priceless.
Chauffeurs are booked by the hour at $50 per hour (2 hour minimum) and are available in Southampton, Hampton Bays, Shinnecock, North Sea, Watermill, Bridgehampton and East Hampton. There is a one time membership fee of $10 for the first 6 months.
Lilybug Scooters can be hired for special events, airport runs and even to pick up deliveries around town. Perfect for event planners who need an extra hand. Also, a percentage of the company's proceeds goes to support anti-drinking and driving programs such as MADD.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
If I had to choose one season in the Fashion Calendar, I would live in resort. It's essentially a collection designed for a lifestyle of leisure. Assuming, of course, that you have somewhere fabulous to go on vacation.
Last Thursday I was given a little taste of the good life at an afternoon tea party hosted by my friends at Ports 1961. Inspired by the painting (top right), "A Mad Tea Party," by Zelda Fitzgerald (artist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald), Creative Director Tia Cibani, Ann Caruso, Lucy Sykes Rellie, Mary Alice Stephenson and Eva Lorenzotti gathered up some of New York most fashionable ladies to preview the new resort collection that pays tribute to the Jazz Age.
Williamson Calvert, an events and cuisine company, was commissioned to create a luxe yet relaxed setting that would transport guests to the 1920's - a time of elegant garden parties, preppy college boys and high flying flappers.
The terrace was lined with towering birch and maple trees along with conical boxwoods, wisteria, ligustrums, rose topiaries and bougainvillea. Table tops were dressed with maize Damask linens, an eclectic mix of vintage fleur and garden china and antique goblets with gold rims. Lush arrangements of fragrant lilacs and Barrington Belle peonies added bursts of color while vintage Lenox pedestals and Wedgwood teapots accented each setting.
A long buffet was filled with savory and sweet treats including petit courgette quiche, cucumber and smoked sturgeon sandwiches, stuffed figs with Stilton and almonds and currant scones with clotted cream. The chocolate truffles infused wtih Earl Grey and Bergamot Tea were especially decadent.
Guests including actress Gabrielle Union, Vanessa von Bismarck, Olivia Palermo, Celerie Kemble, Adelina Wong Ettelson and Zelda's granddaughter Bobbie Lanahan, enjoyed a private viewing of the new collection while sipping on chilled Elderflower Cocktails, Lychee Ice Tea and the signature drink of the party - The Zelda, a delicious mix of green tea, ginger infused vodka and organic gingerale with a splash of simple syrup and squeeze of lime.
As with all events produced by Tony Alcindor of Ports 1961, the close attention to detail provided a full sensory experience. The Loose Marbles, a band of street musicians from New Orleans (that Tia discovered while walking through Chelsea market), performed as a charming couple danced a little swing and jitterbug - a wonderful and original touch. If you are lucky, you'll catch The Loose Marbles playing in Washington Square Park this summer.
For more information on Williamson Calvert (whose clients include Vanity Fair and Chanel), contact Deborah at 718-956-5633.
For those reading this post in an email or reader, click on the title to visit the blog for a complete slide show of photos from the event.
Decor photos by Deborah Williamson. Event photos by Patrick McMullan.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Trust me...your Dad has enough ties. On Sunday, June 17th, celebrate the things he really loves by giving a gift that reminds him of life outside the office.
This portable grilling set from Crate and Barrel ($42.95) will make Dad the King of the BBQ this summer. Pair it with chef Bobby Flay's classic grilling cookbook, "Boy Meets Grill," which features 125 simple recipes for meat, poultry and fish. Let Dad show off his grilling skills by sending USDA Prime Beef Steaks (the highest grade of beef) which are expertly cut and trimmed and beautifully marbled. Williams Sonoma can deliver New York strip steaks ($139), rib eyes ($145) or filets ($149) in time for Father's Day if you order by noon on Monday, June 11th.
Doesn't Dad deserve some TLC? This gift is pampering yet masculine at the same time. The Art of Shaving's Barber Spa (373 Madison Avenue, 212-317-8436) is known for their hot shaves. The Royal Shave ($55) starts with a hot towel wrap followed by a facial massage with pre-shave oil to protect the skin and soften the beard, a straight blade shave in two directions with warm shaving cream, an after-shave mask and concludes with a chilled towel soaked in refreshing lavender. Pair it with a shaving kit ($200) that comes with starter sizes of the products as well as a pure badger brush and razor so Dad can replicate the experience at home.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Being a bridesmaid ain't easy.
Especially when the bride-to-be is your uber-stylish friend with impeccable taste. You know the type. Dress by Monique Lhuillier. Registry at Moss and Bergdorf Goodman. Flowers by Antony Todd. The task of planning her "last night of freedom" with all of her best friends from across the globe is a daunting one. Somehow the idea of dancing on a banquette at Bungalow doesn't seem very original.
For a truly memorable experience, call my friends at Kiki De Montparnasse (79 Greene Street, 212-965-8150). Named after a French artist, muse and icon of female independence, Kiki De Montparnasse is a beautifully curated retail environment in Soho that celebrates sensual living.
With the belief that pleasure is paramount to a fulfilling life, Kiki is filled with the most exquisite collections of lingerie and boudoir inspired ready-to-wear designed by Creative Director and Co-Founder Jennifer Zuccarini. The store has endless gift ideas from jewelry to erotic accessories to products for the home, bath and body in beautiful packaging by Base Design (responsible for the brand identity and campaign, shown above). Some bestsellers for brides are the bow back panty (shown above) - a combination of the satin chiffon bow ($50) with the crochet lace g-string ($135), massage candle ($45) and the 24K gold handcuffs with key and chain ($175) - a cheeky yet apropos gift for someone entering the "confines" of marriage.
The 2000 square foot store is split into two defined areas - an open retail space in the front and a more intimate boudoir with a brass bed (shown above) in the back. Depending on your preference and size of your group, both spaces can be used for parties. Kiki's signature is to serve champagne with chocolate covered strawberries or caviar during a private shopping event. A dedicated sales person will give a preview of the collection and tutorial on the toys.
On the second floor, Kiki has an incredible 1200 square foot private event space called the Salon. Complete with a kitchen, private dressing room and audio-visual equipment, this room can be transformed for many types of events. For a shower or bachelorette, Kiki can plan a cocktail party with hors d'oeuvres or a seated dinner through one of their preferred caterers such as Serena Bass.
For the ultimate luxury experience, Kiki will have one of their stylists hand-select lingerie and merchandise for the bride-to-be as well as arrange for one of their "sexperts," such as a dominatrix trained in the art of bondage, to speak to the group.
A night at Kiki is such a sexy affair....don't be surprised if the boys want to crash.
For more information about special events at Kiki, contact 212-965-8070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Highline might just be the most rockin' neighborhood in NYC.
Fresh off the Bowie curated arts festival, the area has a new 700-person music venue owned and operated by the family behind the B.B. King Blues Club and Blue Note Jazz Club. The Highline Ballroom (431 West 16th Street, 212-414-5994) opened its doors on April 30th with a performance by rock legend Lou Reed and has been buzzing ever since.
According to its promoters, the venue is dedicated to bringing music fans intimate performances by a diverse group of artists. Next up is Jesse Malin who plays the Highline Ballroom on June 6th. Presented by John Varvatos and SPIN magazine, the concert benefits Free Arts NYC, an organization that brings the healing power of the arts to abused and at-risk children and their families.
You might not have heard of Malin but he's collaborated with some of the coolest rockers in the biz including Ryan Adams (who produced Malin's debut album) and Pete Yorn. But, the real rockstar nod-of-approval came from an artist who Malin counts as one of his biggest inspirations - Bruce Springsteen.
The story goes something like this:
Malin meets Springsteen at the "Light of Day" charity concert. Malin sends Springsteen his latest CD. Springsteen calls Malin and invites him to join his Christmas show. Malin assumes he will be singing a Springsteen cover. Instead, the mentor and his band learn 3 of Malin's songs and sings back-up for the young artist. Pretty cool, right?
The love continues with Malin's latest album "Glitter in the Gutter," which features a duet with The Boss called Broken Radio. Check out the music video.
For the New York born musician who sings and writes about the struggle and triumph of the Everyman, nothing could be more fitting than kicking off Malin's U.S. summer tour with a concert to benefit the underprivileged children of his home town.
To purchase tickets for the June 6th concert with special guest Radio 4, click here. VIP Tickets (seated with open bar) are $150 while General Admission (standing only) are $50.
To watch videos and sample music, click here.
For more information or to make a donation to Free Arts, click here.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Memorial Day is notorious for fickle weather but this past weekend, there was no disputing the fact that summer has finally arrived.
Glorious sun and temperatures in the high 80's made for a few hot days in the city. I found refuge by visiting Ciao Bella Gelato in Nolita (285 Mott Street). Hand-made in small batches, Ciao Bella has over 100 different flavors of gelato and sorbetti including Valrhona Chocolate, Hazelnut-Biscotti, Blackberry Cabernet and their award-winning Blood Orange. Seasonal blends are a real treat. Currently, Ciao Bella is offering two limited edition flavors: Chocolate Jalapeno and Coconut Almond Chip.
Founded in NY's Little Italy in 1983, Ciao Bella began with a few traditional family recipes from Torino and has grown to become one of the leading purveyors of artisanal ice cream in the U.S. Their gelato (Italian-style ice cream) has less fat and air by volume (denser) than regular ice cream. The sorbetti is 70-80% fruit, water and ice with no colorings or artificial ingredients as well as being dairy-free, fat-free and, in some cases, cholesterol-free.
As the dog days of New York summer fast approach, those of you without Hamptons houses better think of ways to get yourself to the beach. My advice? Be the house guest that brings the best gift and you'll get a return invitation.
Ciao Bella will ship customized assortments of gelato and sorbetti packed in dry ice via Fed-Ex Priority Overnight. You can choose from the 4, 6 or 8 pint options which range from $32.95 to $49.95 (exclusive of shipping). Perfect for dinner parties and summer BBQ's, Ciao Bella is a great gift for everyone in the house to enjoy. And, as a host, it's a simple and popular dessert to prepare. I like to use a very small scoop, mix and match flavors and colors in a chilled bowl, add fresh fruit, coconut or chocolate shavings and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Not all of Ciao Bella's flavors are available by the pint. Check their retail posts in Nolita, Upper East Side (27 East 92nd Street), Brooklyn (81 Washington Street) and Grand Central for a complete offering of products.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
As a hostess, I am self-admittedly a little on the lazy side. But, do you blame me for loving the party more than the prep?
I promise you that with some savvy planning your guests will never know the difference. So, what's my secret for stylish and simple entertaining? I think the Beatles said it best - I get by with a little help from my friends...
When it comes to cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, let me make a few introductions. Only a click away, these special "friends" have always been there for me in times of event planning need.
For the most delicious hors d'oeuvres, order from The Perfect Bite Co. Their Pastry Kisses are made by hand in small batches with fresh ingredients. The signature kiss is the Blueberry Lemon Cream, an all-butter puff pastry filled with cream cheese, fresh lemon zest, vanilla bean and whole blueberries. Other favorites include the Caramelized Onion and Feta (shown, above left) as well as the Basil Pesto Gorgonzola.
The genius part of these hors d'oeuvres is that they come frozen with a disposable baking pan. All you do is pop a few trays into the oven throughout the night. Trays of 12 kisses are $11.95 and there is a 3 tray minimum. Other appetizers include cocktail pizzas, mushroom caps and crostini by the dozen. Delivery is by DHL overnight with dry ice and/or ice packs to ensure frozen food stays cool.
For dessert, Black Hound New York has incredible chocolate, cookies and cakes. Order a selection of the miniature cakes and display them on a three tiered cake stand. I love their signature mini Busy Bee Cake which consists of layers of chocolate butter cake, almond butter cake, and bittersweet chocolate mousse covered in marzipan and chocolate and decorated with adorable, edible marzipan almond bees. An order of six miniature cakes is $45 and will feed up to 12 guests. Delivery is next day air. Those of you in NYC can visit their hip little chocolate shop on Second Avenue to preview all their delectable treats.
I'm a late night shopper and there is something about buying my booze online that gives me a whole new kind of retail rush. Astor Wines and Spirits is one of the best liquor stores in New York and their web site features an extensive selection of amazing wine bargains from around the world. Orders made by noon will be delivered the next business day. Delivery is free with orders over $75.
Don't fuss over a full bar unless you have a bartender. Serving white and red wine, champagne and one spirit is more than enough. A signature cocktail such as a margarita or mojito in a pitcher is a great way to have your guests serve themselves. Crate and Barrel has some beautiful and inexpensive pitchers and glasses. The Ona is only $24.95. Use a few of these together to create a sleek service bar to hold mixers such as soda, tonic and fruit juice.
With all the time and effort you saved, you can spend it on the only thing that might still need some prep....you!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Movie night with friends sounds like a pretty simple party to plan. Rent flick. Buy popcorn. Gather friends.
It's another story if you are advertising executive turned filmmaker Eddie Shieh (photo right, shown with actor/director DB Woodside). Fresh off the festival circuit (screening at over 20 international festivals and counting), Shieh began fielding requests from friends who wanted to watch his debut short film, "No Menus Please," a drama/comedy about two immigrants competing to distribute restaurant menus in New York City.
While planning the screening, Shieh reached out to 5 other directors with internationally acclaimed short films and invited them to join. With one call to Ayler Young of Tribeca Cinemas, (home to the Tribeca Film Festival) "movie night" was transformed into the Red Rope Screening, an event to celebrate short films and promote social business networking among influencers in film, fashion, music and art.
On Wednesday night, despite the torrential downpour, 400 guests attended the inaugural Red Rope Screening presented by Adidas, who showcased student documentaries about the prominence of graffiti art in the sneakerhead community through their End-to-End Project. Other supporters included Foot Locker, Chopin Vodka, Shorts International and Saint Grace (one of my favorite brands for T-shirts and tanks).
Shieh hand-selected 5 incredible films to accompany his own including: A Nick in Time by Bé Garrett (2007 Official Selection at Sundance, Tribeca and Cannes); first by actor DB Woodside (who plays President Wayne Palmer on Fox's "24") and Nick Sivakumaran; Spread The Love by Matt Lilly; Mutual Love Life by Robert Peters (2000 Oscar short-listed film); and, Our Time Is Up by Rob Pearlstein (Oscar nominated for 2006 Best Live Action Short Film).
After an hour listening to legendary DJ Stretch Armstrong, I finally found the newly minted director at the after-party. Shieh told me that the inspiration for the film literally arrived at his front door. During Shieh's advertising days (he was an award winning creative at Ogilvy & Mather, TBWA/Chiat/Day and BBDO), he used to order from the same Chinese restaurant when he got home late at night. Shieh began to notice the constant menu delivery in his building and to wonder about the life of his delivery guy.
There is talk of another short film by Shieh as well as a Red Rope Screening in the Fall. We promise to keep you posted on both. In the meantime, check out the schedule at Tribeca Cinemas for other interesting film and music events such as the Miguel Migs record release party on Sunday, May 20th.
For your own movie night, art show or cocktail party, call Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick Street, 212-941-2001). All of their event spaces are pretty amazing. Tell Ayler we sent you....
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Event designers always cringe at the thought of corporate signage clashing with their artistic vision.
If only all messaging was as beautiful as Blik, the award winning product line of surface graphics. With Prose, the company's newest offering, the writing is on the wall....literally.
You can submit your favorite poem, quote or phrase to be made into stickers in various sizes, colors and fonts. Blik will send you the self-adhesive decals to affix to any smooth, flat surface such as a wall, window, mirror, ceiling, tabletop or floor. Price is based on size and quantity of letters.
A great idea for party decor, these stickers are easy to apply as well as remove. You might chose to decorate a birthday party with energetic dancers by Keith Haring or a going-away party with delicate birds in flight. The geometric shapes by Charles and Ray Eames are some of my favorites.
Friday, May 11, 2007
This week in New York, the buzz is all Bowie.
As the inaugural curator of the H&M High Line Festival (May 9th -19th), David Bowie has become our city's personal guide to the coolest line-up of music, film, comedy and visual art performance. The artists that he has chosen to showcase are as eclectic as Bowie himself from Brit comedian Ricky Gervais ("The Office") to French electro-pop duo Air to visionary Ken Nordine, the 87-year old musician who has been performing his beatnik-style spoken "word jazz" since 1955. Arcade Fire, the Montreal based indie rock band, kicked off the 10-day arts festival with a killer performance at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday night.
Buddha Bar with Ty KU, a new sake liqueur, played host to the festival's launch with a decadent after-party that followed their one-year anniversary celebration - a 250 person VIP dinner and auction (to benefit The Institute for Civic Leadership) for guests such as Kevin Spacey, Denise Rich, Marc Ecko, and Thom Felicia. Produced by my friends at Experiential Agency, Buddha Bar put on a spectacle of a show - a mix of performance art and acrobatics that descended from the vaulted ceiling - while revelers danced to soon-to-be-released tracks by legendary DJ Sam Popat, creator of the popular Buddha Bar compilations. Check out the NY Times video coverage of the event.
The goal of the annual festival, which continues through May 19th, is to highlight the particular taste of the artist curating it and to introduce New York to talented acts from around the world. Performances and events are being held at different venues near the High Line which runs through the Meatpacking, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit Friends of the High Line, an organization working with the City of New York to transform the 1930's elevated rail structure in a public space in 2008.
There are still some amazing events coming up. To buy tickets for shows including Polyphonic Spree and The Secret Machines, (photo below, left) visit the festival's web site www.highlinefestival.com. Claude Cahun's photography exhibit will run from May 18th -20th (photo below, right) in the gardens of the General Theological Seminary (175 Ninth Avenue). Open to the public and free of charge, it is not to be missed.
After seeing the photographer's work in Paris, Bowie was fascinated and had the following to say:
"You could call her transgressive or you could call her a cross dressing Man Ray with surrealist tendencies. I find this work really quite mad, in the nicest way."
Which coming from Ziggy Stardust is truly the finest of compliments.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Nothing says Spring more than a bouquet of fresh flowers. But, do you ever wonder what the flowers you send say about you?
Whether you are professing your undying love, sending your condolences, begging for forgiveness or thanking your hostess, the gift of flowers can be wonderfully emotive.
Yet, your heartfelt message may be inadvertently misunderstood if you send a scrawny arrangement covered in cheap plastic wrap from 1-800-Flowers. In this case, your gift may not effectively assuage the anger of a scorned lover nor console a wounded friend.
This communication breakdown can be easily remedied by finding a florist with impeccable taste that understands not only your personal style but your relationship needs.
With Mother's Day just around the corner (and what relationship could be more important than Mom), I reached out to one of my favorite florists, Elizabeth Ryan, (411 East 9th Street, 212-995-1111) who has done events for everyone from Paris Hilton to the Dalai Lama. She shares the following advice.
Try to give general characteristics of the recipient (preppy, modern, bohemian) and then, if possible, move on to more personal details (loves the beach, from the British countryside). A good florist should be able to interpret all the information he/she is given and create something that will appeal to the person's personality and style as well as convey the right message.
For Mother's Day, Elizabeth recommends a mixed spring arrangement (shown above), including a combination of any of the following flowers that are now in season: lilacs, peonies (her favorite and mine), roses, sweat peas, tulips, vibernum, lysianthus. Prices start at $65 with $15 delivery in Manhattan. Mother's Day orders will be sent on Saturday.
Another incredible floral designer is L'Olivier Floral Atelier (19 East 76th Street, 212-774-7676) who has another location downtown on 14th Street. They have a beautiful tulip arrangement in a rectangular vase for $150 which makes a strong visual statement (photo top center).
Finally, VSF (which stands for Very Special Flowers located on 204 West 10th Street, 212-206-7236) is popular with the fashion crowd. I especially like their tightly packed arrangements with Vandella roses, mini calla lilies and snowball hydrangeas all in creams and whites (shown above). The tone on tone is fresh and elegant. A great choice for anyone who appreciates the understated look.
It seems as though a talented florist can work wonders on all of your personal relationships by eloquently telling the people in your life just how your feel. Now, if only your therapist could understand.....
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Everyone loves to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Yet, ask those same people about the origins of the holiday and you will be surprised how little they know.
After sending out invitations to my little fiesta, I was amused at the responses I received from my (highly educated) friends.
How do they celebrate the holiday in Spain? It's Mexican...
Would I be hanging a skeleton on the door? It's not the Day the Dead...
What day is it on? Cinco de Mayo is the 5th of May in Spanish...duh!
For those of you that care, Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico that celebrates the victory of Mexican forces over the French occupation in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.
For the rest of you, it's just a night to party and drink a lot of tequila. Here is what you need to know:
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and was first produced in the early 1800's in Western Mexico. It is considered North America's first indigenous distilled spirit. There are 3 major categories:
Blanco or Silver:
Clean and transparent with strong flavor of the blue agave. Bottled right after distillation.
Pale color with mellow flavor. Blanco aged in white oak casks for 2 months to 1 year.
Amber color with woody rich flavor. Aged for more than 1 year in oak barrels.
I'm serving two types of Milagro tequila for my party. Silver for those who want to have margaritas and mojitos. Select Barrel Reserve Anejo, which is aged for three years, for connoisseurs who prefer their tequila over ice with nothing more than a squeeze of lime.
To try something new, head down to La Esquina (203 Lafayette Street, 646-613-7100), one of my favorite Mexican restaurants which has an incredible tequila menu with over 100 choices as well as some super premium selections such as Patron Gran Platinum ($48/glass) and Don Julio "1942" ($44/glass). Their waitstaff is very knowledgeable so ask them for recommendations. Order the Tequila Flights, tastings of three, which will introduce you to new flavors and combinations.
So, unless you just returned from Spring Break, please retire the shot glass. With so many premium choices of tequila these days, growing up has never been more fun!
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Monday, April 30, 2007
Caring about the environment is finally in style and it's about time!
Lately, I've noticed that the fashion industry has embraced the cause. Vanity Fair, Domino and Elle Magazine have produced green issues. Environmental lifestyle guru, Danny Seo, is eco-styling celebrities like Eva Longoria and Rosario Dawson for the red carpet. Organic clothing lines such as Edun and Loomstate are sold at Barney's. And, there is even a new "eco-model" who hosts a show about green fashion named Summer Rayne Oakes (I guess you could say that her name is self-fulfilling prophecy).
The message is clear: you no longer have to sacrifice style to save the planet.
As a follow up to my post on Green Entertaining, I spoke with Danielle Venokur of dvGreen, an event design and production company that bridges the gap between luxury and sustainability. After years as the Event Director and General Manager of L'Olivier, a floral design house who caters to the A-list fashion and social set in New York, Danielle launched her company to merge her finely tuned expertise and sophisticated taste with her desire to protect the environment.
From corporate events to destination weddings, Danielle is an expert in green party planning and offers us the following advice:
Design the party you want, then retrofit it to be eco-friendly
You don't need to compromise your vision before you even begin. There are extensive resources that exist to help you achieve your dream while also being green.
While resources do exist, they may not be as immediately accessible as you are used to. Give yourself a longer lead time to find and acquire all of the green elements for your party.
Research Local Vendors
Once you figure out your event concept and theme, find local vendors who can offer green products and services.
'wichcraft: for quick and casual catering for the home or office. Chef Tom Colicchio works with small producers, uses green market vegetables as well as antibiotic and hormone-free meats in all of his sandwiches while donating to the Fresh Air Fund.
The City Bakery's Build A Green Bakery: for incredible desserts sold at two locations in NYC. The bakeries were built with sustainable and eco-conscious materials.
Branch: for great serving pieces, house and kitchen wares such as these bowls made of 100% organically grown bamboo with natural lacquer and non-toxic adhesive.
Square One Organic Vodka: for delicious vodka drink recipes featuring all organic ingredients. Square One is the first certified organic rye vodka and uses soy-based inks and recycled papers on their labels and packaging.
We will check back with Danielle for more green tips in the next few months and to see what amazing events she is producing for her clients. To hire dvGreen for your next party, conference or company retreat, contact them directly at 212-713-0013.
In the meantime, keep sending us your green ideas by leaving a comment!
Friday, April 27, 2007
It's your birthday and you want to celebrate with 50 of your closest friends. Rolling up to a nightclub is out of the question, even if you are "friends with the owner."
If you feel like throwing a big birthday bash, you are better off finding a venue that can give you an exclusive area to entertain your guests. Here are two venues that are cool without the attitude and rate high on service.
Cocktails for 40-75: Merc Bar (151 Mercer Street)
I used to joke around with restauranteur John McDonald that he was the Mayor of Mercer Street. Not only were his CITY magazine offices located there but two of his establishments - Lure Fish Bar (which used to be Canteen) and, the long-standing SoHo favorite, Merc Bar.
Recently, I checked out his newly renovated event space in Merc Bar called The Red Room. It comes stocked with a premium bar and staffed with a bartender, cocktail server, busser and doorman to ensure only your guests are allowed in and out. They need your guest list (please alphabetize!) in advance. You can bring in your own DJ (as well as the equipment) or just plug in your iPod into the state of the art sound system.
Besides a killer martini selection, they offer catering from Lure Fish Bar. Menu selections include Spicy Tuna Tartare Crisps, Mini Crab Cakes, Wild Mushroom Tartlets, and Grilled Filet Mignon to name a few.
Room rental fee : $300.00 per hour + tax and 20% gratuity
No room rental fee
$30.00 per person per hour + tax and 20% gratuity
Minimum of 2 hours and 40 guests.
Contact: Jennifer, 646 873 4999 or email@example.com.
Cocktails for 50-100: Kelley and Ping (325 Bowery, 212-475-8600)
I've been to a few birthday parties at this gorgeous loft style event space that is located on the second floor above the restaurant. The room has large windows, exposed brick, a working fireplace, a private bar and restroom.
Staffing is provided at $35/hour per person but is deducted from your room rental fee. Hors d'oeuvres are available from the restaurant below or from an offsite caterer. You can bring in your own DJ but you need to provide the equipment. You can have cash bar or open bar as long as your meet the minimums.
Sunday - Thursday
Room Rental is $500 for 5 hours
$1500 food and beverage minimum + tax and 20% gratuity
Friday and Saturday
Room Rental is $500 for 5 hours
$2000 food and beverage minimum + tax and 20% gratuity
Contact: Miche Griffen, 212-979-7866 ext 201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When booking these venues, tell them Notes On A Party sent you so they'll know you are an insider. As always, pass this along to friends, colleagues and family. And, please feel free to leave a comment about your favorite birthday spots around the city.
Interested in great restaurants to host a birthday dinner? Check out It's Your Birthday, vol. 1.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Warning: Event planners and brides-to-be reading this post may experience headache, dizziness, or shortness of breath. I am about to bring up a dreaded subject...the seating chart.
Whether you are planning a conference, meeting, wedding or dinner party, where you seat your guests can make a huge impact on their enjoyment and your peace of mind. Figuring out the right chemistry and compatibility among your guests can be an arduous process. I discovered an online service called Simple Seating that will make the whole task of seating and managing RSVP's a little easier. Here's how it works:
1) Add your event (name, description and # of guests)
2) Add your guests (either upload a CSV file or manually enter)
3) Provide info on guests (RSVP status, guest name, type of meal)
4) Put guests into groups (by company name, groom's family etc)
5) Choose your table configurations and placement (round, rectangular etc)
6) Assign seating with the easy drag-and-drop feature
(drag names and groups from guest list right over to each table)
7) Preview, edit, print or export your seating chart
RSVP's are color coded for easy reference - YES is green, MAYBE is yellow and NO is red (which shows up on your list but not on your chart). And, you can access your account from any computer with Internet access. The service is free for events up to 50 guests. Other packages allow you to seat events for up to 350 guests including Basic ($19.95) for 2 events, Plus ($49.95) for 5 events or Pro (call for quote).
Simple Seating is a great way to stay organized and connected with your clients, wedding planner or even your Type-A mother-in-law who will, no doubt, ask to see each revision to your seating chart!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
This year the Academy Awards went green.
A pretty impressive move for the world's most high profile awards show and decadent after-party.
If Oscar can do it, then so can the rest of us. Being eco-conscious is simply a matter of making better decisions as we plan our parties.
Here are some easy tips for green entertaining:
Traditional printing with petroleum based ink creates carcinogens, hazardous waste and pollution. Instead, choose post-consumer recycled paper and soy ink which is made from non-toxic soybean oil. And, when you can, send a digital invitation instead of paper.
When you can't use real silverware and glassware, choose disposable products that are recyclable, biodegradable and made from unbleached materials. Whole Foods has a great selection of recycled paper products for entertaining from brands like Seventh Generation.
Lighting and Heating
The event planning factoid, "Every guest gives off the same heat as a 100 watt lightbulb," should no longer apply when you switch to compact florescent bulbs which produce 70% less heat and last 10 times longer. Keep you party cool by turning down the thermostat and using energy efficient lighting.
Support local farms and design your menu with organic produce or hire a caterer that does like Lucid Food. Arrange for a food bank to pick up left-over food and drinks. Your gourmet buffet should not go to waste.
Make it easy for your guests to recycle bottles and cans by setting aside separate bins near the garbage. It saves you from having to pick them out later.
If you pad needs a post-party cleaning, call Zen Home, an environmentally friendly service that only uses non-toxic natural products that are not hazardous to the health of your family and pets. They incorporate aromatherapy (which might help with your hang-over as well) and will even leave a piece of organic chocolate on your pillow.
Pick a location that is easily accessible by mass transit. Or, hire OZOcar - a hybrid, luxury car service that has a fleet of Prius and Lexus models. Their cars use 70% less fuel than conventional town cars and yellow cabs. Your guests will enjoy the high speed wireless and Sirius satellite radio while you will rest easy that they got home safely.
Offset the carbon emissions from your event by purchasing Green Tags from Bonneville Environmental Foundation to support development of renewable energy sources. Another great way to combat global warming while you plan your party is to apply for the Working Assets VISA card that plants trees and donates money to alternative energy groups every time you use it.
For more information on Green Living, check out Treehugger or The Lazy Environmentalist.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I'm declaring Sunday night Burger Night. If only to have an excuse to return to Stand (24 East 12th Street - 212.488.5900), a new restaurant by Jonathan Morr, the creator of BondSt, APT, and Townhouse Hotel in Miami.
On the door, it reads STAND. That rare well-done burger restaurant. And, it's not false advertisting....they got it right in so many ways.
Designed to be sleek and utilitarian, Stand is a sophisticated yet hip mess hall where every night is burger night. The menu features a good offering of 7-ounce burgers that include the usual suspects (beef, turkey, veggie) along with a few originals (bacon & egg, mushroom and chopped steak) - all with interesting condiments like green peppercorn sauce or onion marmalade. Sides like coleslaw and onion rings are classic. More interesting are the mashed sweet potatoes and parmesan.
Refreshments may be an afterthought at most burger spots but Morr has paid special attention here with a wide selection of shakes ranging from banana to apple pie to toasted marshmallow and unusual sodas like fresh blackberry and pineapple-lime. You can even order a pitcher of beer (so old school!).
As a marketing girl, I can't help but comment on the brand concept. What Morr does so well with each of his establishments is find cutting-edge talent to carry his brand vision down to the last details. In this case, BDDW (and the amazing Tyler Hays) was commissioned to design the cafeteria tables and school house chairs. Branding was done by my friends at Base Design. Their creative includes matchbooks that read "I met........at Stand," with blank lines for name, gender and number as well as napkins printed with "Use napkins. Save your pants."
Stand has take out and will deliver from Houston to 23rd Street and from 1st Avenue to 8th Avenue. Noon to midnight. No catering as of yet, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. They can accommodate parties of up to 12 but they don't take reservations.
At least you know that wherever you sit, you'll be at the cool kids table.
Photo above by Noah Kalina.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Over the years, I have planned many celebrity parties and I'll admit that I have been starstruck on a few occasions. But, who I consider to be my biggest celebrity sighting may surprise you - it's not a Hollywood actor or music superstar. I'd have to say it's American painter and printmaker, Chuck Close.
Ok, to be fair, Harrison Ford is a close second.
Art has always had a positive influence in my life and I wanted to find a way to share that with others. A few years ago, I starting working with Free Arts NYC, a non-profit organization that brings the healing power of the arts into the lives of abused and at-risk children and their families.
On April 23rd, Free Arts NYC will host their 8th Annual Art Auction Benefit chaired by Amy Sacco (Bungalow 8 & Bette) and Mary Alice Stephenson (fashion editor & style correspondent). Avid art collectors never miss this event and this year is no exception with a live auction of works by Jeremy Blake, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Barbara Kruger, Tom Sachs among others. The silent auction features an equally stellar list of artists including Hope Atherton, Ross Bleckner, Todd Eberle, Nan Goldin, Hugo Guinness, Jack Pierson, Patrick McMullan and Ben Watts just to name a few.
Portraits and Polaroids, sponsored by Dior and Vanity Fair, will be held at the Milk Gallery (450 West 15th Street) from 6-9PM. This year Scarlett Johansson and Liv Tyler are honorary chairs. Tickets can be purchased online at Free Arts NYC or by phone at 212-974-9092.
The event is a great opportunity to buy original work (estimated values range from $500 - $70,000) from some of the most recognized artists in the world while supporting a great cause.
Here are two of the outstanding pieces that will be available at auction (preview all lots):
Self Portrait Quad by Chuck Close (shown above);
Dope & Guns Party Candidate by Jeremy Blake (shown below).