We've changed URL's! Please visit Notes On A Party!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Green Is The New Black

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.

Plan Ahead
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.

Danielle recommends:

'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 - vol. 2

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.

Cash Bar
Room rental fee : $300.00 per hour + tax and 20% gratuity

Open Bar
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

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

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

Simple Seating

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

Green Entertaining

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

Burger Night

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 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

Portraits and Polaroids

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).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sealed with Style

Monogrammed stationery is a nice touch but how many people can say that they have a signature seal?

For marking note cards, envelopes, books and invitations, personalized seals make original gifts for those who enjoy sending correspondence. I found an amazing seal on the russel+hazel website.

Mostly known for their paper products such as colorful, patterned binders and archival storage boxes, russel+hazel is a design company out of Minneapolis that features beautifully functional accessories for the home and office.

To create your signature seal, you select one of the four unique designs (shown, right), download the PDF, add your information and fax it back to them. Your stamp or embosser will be sent to you in 8-10 days from receipt of order.

The stamp is $46 and comes with black ink. The embosser is $66 and has two orientations to chose from - top or bottom. I can't think of a more stylish way to leave your mark....

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Lazy Hostess: Wine and Cheese

If you don't know your Fourme d'Ambert from your Malvarosa or how to navigate the vineyards of the Loire Valley, don't worry. Hosting a wine and cheese has never been easier.

An impromptu "Girl's Night In" for some of my PR friends was the perfect excuse for me to reach out to two of my favorite local vendors to help me plan my last minute, gourmet get-together.

My first call was to Kristin at Murray's Cheese (245 Bleecker Street - 212-243-3289) who recently introduced a new catering menu called Made by Murray's that I have been dying to try. It features everything from cheese boards to tarts to roasted meats and more. Presented on beautiful and simple wooden trays (which you can reuse), Murray's will hand pick a cheese board for you based on your personal taste and their ripest daily selection.

After a few minutes chatting with Kristin, I ordered a small mixed board called Murray's Main Line ($45) which features 3 seasonal cheeses from around the world with some dried fruit and nuts, a bread box filled with crispbreads and toasts ($15) as well as a jar of Dalmatia fig jam ($5).

Based on my cheese selection, Kristin also gave me some advice on wine pairings which I brought with me to Union Square Wines & Spirits (140 Fourth Avenue - 212-675-8100), one of the leading wine shops in the city. Robert, a knowledgable sales associate, steered me in the direction of an affordable yet delicious Moltepulciano to pair with my salty Parmagiano Reggiano and a sparkling Vouvray that went well with everything.

In true Lazy Hostess style, both Murray's and USQ will deliver right to your door. Murray's requires a 48 hour lead time with an additional delivery charge. USQ fulfills online orders within 24 hours while phone orders and walk-ins only need 3 hours notice. Delivery is free of charge when you meet their minimum of $45.

So, the next time you have to host a wine and cheese for your client, boss, in-laws or friends, you'll be prepared. Hold onto these's the closest thing to having your own personal fromager and sommelier on speed dial.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Alice's Tea Cup

If I were Alice, I would have been happy to stay at the Mad Hatter's never-ending tea party. Scones, clotted cream and preserves with a pot of hot tea sounds pretty perfect to me.

For all you New Yorkers in search of wonderland, go to my friend's tea shop in the Upper East Side aptly named Alice's Tea Cup (156 East 64th Street - 212-734-4832).

Their freshly baked scones are absolutely amazing (especially the pumpkin). Tea sandwiches include lapsang souchong smoked chicken breast with granny smith apples and herbed goat cheese and cucumber and watercress (natch) with lemon chive butter.

Alice's Tea Cup has an outstanding selection of teas including black, green, white, red, flavored, herbal and tisane. Some original offerings include Chocolate Mint Tea, Turkish Green Apple, Rooibos Bourbon and Sparrow's Soul which is French Vervain with chamomile, rosebuds and linden blossoms.

One of the most charming little shops in New York, Alice's Tea Cup is a great place to host a birthday party, bridal or baby shower. The private room holds 15-35 people and will cost you a room rate of $100/hour with a minimum of 2 hours. Guests are asked to order The Mad Hatter for $27/person which consists of a pot of tea, 2 scones with preserves and cream, 2 sandwiches and choice of dessert. Or, a la carte from their extensive menu of soups, salads and sandwiches.

Alice's Tea Cup is extremely kid fact, they cater to the little ones. Children under 10 celebrating birthdays can have The Wee Tea for $15/child which includes tisane tea, 1 scone and an additional item such as chicken fingers, PB and J, banana bread or grilled cheese ($1 extra). Fairy wings and magic dust are free to use. Tiaras are for sale at the cash. And, arrangements can be made for a face-painter, magician or even for Alice herself, who will appear in costume to read for the kids.

Alice's Tea Cup will cater as well. To bring the tea party right to your home, call 212-734-4Tea. Other locations include 102 West 73rd Street and a newly opened shop at 220 East 81st Street.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Flirting with Spring - Tracy Reese

Spring can sometimes be a bit of a tease.

At times, you are in the warm embrace of the sun. Moments later, you are left shivering in the shade. Then, out of nowhere, a sudden rain shower comes pouring down. This rollercoaster ride can leave you feeling like you're in a made-for-TV drama.

At the one-year anniversary party of the Tracy Reese boutique (641 Hudson Street - 212-807-0505), I found the perfect way to deal with the season's temperamental behavior.

Put on a pretty party dress....and start flirting.

Three looks that caught my eye were: (from left to right) the mauve poplin strapless fly away dress ($245), the Barrio scene fly-away chemise ($435) and the hazelnut Spyrogyra asymmetrical frock ($465) which was worn by the hostess of the night, Vanessa Minnillo (celebrity MTV VJ). These sweet dresses will have all season to make an impression from benefits to cocktail parties to summer weddings.

Known for her ultra-feminine and flattering designs, Tracy Reese has grown a cult following of fashion editors, celebrities and the city's chicest party girls. At one time an insider's secret, Tracy Reese is now available at Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Ron Herman, Scoop among other upscale specialty boutiques around the world.

Remember, a little flirting goes a long way. Who knows, you may turn more than the weather in your favor.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Maple Leaf on the Rocks

To all you nightcrawlers, I have a follow up to my recent post about The Inn LW12's late night Tuck Menu ("Tucked Inn" - Monday, March 19th) which serves until close to 4 A.M. In case you missed it, the New York Times featured the restaurant's signature cocktail, the Maple Leaf, in the Shaken and Stirred column in today's Sunday Styles ("Part Tux, Part Pajamas" - Sunday, April 1st).

Jonathan Miles writes, "The Maple Leaf is more refreshing than its autumnal, smoky-sweet ingredients might suggest. The taste evokes a crisp spring morning in Canada, befitting the InnLW12’s Canadian motif."

So, whether you are winding down or waking up....raise your glass to the Great White North.

Maple Leaf, Adapted from the InnLW12

1 ½ounces Canadian Club whiskey

½ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ounce maple syrup

Lemon twist, for garnish.

Shake liquid ingredients with ice and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with the lemon and serve.

Yield: 1 serving