Y’all. I’d like you to meet Lauren. I met Lauren at The Yellow Conference back in August. She, Stephanie, and I were the three volunteers behind the Membership booth in the back of the room. From the moment I met Lauren, I knew she was awesome. She’s just one of those people that gets you excited to be somewhere and conversation feels real from the start. And then I found out that she’s an event planner, so pretty much it was destined that we were going to be friends.
After living in Brooklyn, Lauren decided to take a break from her crazy event planner life and led hiking trips with girls in Montana. Then she stuck around, and next thing she knew she was starting her own event business, Lauren Caselli Events, in a small town. (That I intend on inviting myself to sometime soon…)
So without further ado, it’s time to take some tips from a pro.
Tell us about your party-hosting style.
I’m Italian so party hosting has been in my blood for generations. My family members were immigrants, so they didn’t have lots of money to spend on throwing elaborate parties, but the biggest crime was if someone went hungry. Now, I always make sure we have extra of everything, including linens, chairs, and food. The joke in my family is that if you can’t feed an army AFTER everyone’s left, you’re doing it wrong.
Where did your love of party planning begin?
I think once I got my own apartment, I started really loving throwing my own gatherings. It felt unbelievable to open the door to my home, welcome in people that I loved, and make sure they were taken care of. I liked connecting people, and having a space in which to do that made it so much more wonderful.
What are your go-to appetizers?
Bruschetta. It goes on toast points, can be served on a rice cracker, or on a piece of lettuce and no one is offended that you didn’t honor their dietary restrictions. Alternately, I’ve never seen pigs in a blanket leftover, and even though they’re not a regular, EVERYONE loves them.
What are your go-to entrees?
Chicken french, which is a breaded Italian dish native to western New York (where I grew up). It’s the only complex dish I can make without measuring anything or a needing a recipe (or even needing a list when I go to the grocery store), so when I’m looking to impress someone, that’s what I make because it’s easy for me.
What are your go-to desserts?
Hah! My biggest secret is that I hate baking, but I love this chocolate budino from a neighborhood restaurant called “Blackbird Kitchen”. If it’s a small group, I’ll buy one for everyone to go. The caveat to this is chocolate/pumpkin pie, but I only like baking pies on Sundays during the fall, so they rarely make it as a dinner-party dessert.
What are your go-to beverages?
I love making old-fashioned’s because they’re easy to batch and serve. If I can’t batch it, I won’t make it for a party. Otherwise, I always put out red, white, and sparkling water and let people serve themselves.
What do you usually bring to a potluck?
Christmas salad, which is arugula, orzo pasta, cranberries, feta, slivered almonds, dressed in olive oil, vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper. You let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, mixing a few times before you pull it out to make sure the arugula and orzo soak up the dressing. People die over it, and it’s so inexpensive and beautiful.
Do you decorate for the festivities?
Since I got my own apartment, yes! But only for Christmas, because I love holiday decor (and holiday music). I always cut my own tree down (Montana! It’s legal here!) and drag it home, and then I usually make hot chocolate and decorate it. I don’t have family here where I live, so it’s a nice reminder of my traditions growing up when I’m alone in my apartment during the holidays.
Tell us about the best party you’ve ever hosted.
The best one I ever hosted was for my business and it was a networking event for female entrepreneurs called The Boss Lady Bash. Most networking events are stale and people leave early, but this one treats people to really fun details, there’s delicious food, wine, beer, and you’re pre-placed into groups with other women who you may not know. It takes some of the hurdle out of networking, and people seem to love it. (Plus, they die over the swag, which is my favorite part!)
What’s your biggest hostess challenge?
Wanting to mingle, and making sure everything looks clean, presentable, and up to par. I like when my guests feel like they’re comfortable, so I don’t want them worrying about washing dishes, cleaning up after themselves, or feeling inconvenienced. That’s my idea of an awesome party for guests. But, since I want my house to look good, I’m constantly running around and cleaning, while also trying to mingle. It’s tough to do both.
What’s your best tip for someone who wants to be a great party hostess?
Understand that your guests’ comfort is important, and try to walk through your part from the perspective of the guest. When they walk in, is there a convenient place to hang their coat? If not, have someone taking coats and placing them in a bedroom (a great job for a partner!). Are the plates in a spot that makes sense? Is there enough glassware or plastic cups so people don’t have to hunt for glasses? Think about what people are going to need before they have to ask, so you can relax during the event (or if you’re me, run around and clean up after people).
I love this. Her best tip is probably the best tip I’ve ever heard and would never think to offer up. That’s exactly what hosting a party is all about. (Although I guess, as an event planner, she would totally know that.)
To check out other hosts and hostesses of the month visit the links below:
|Chrystina Noel||Chrystina’s Mom||Sweet Love & Ginger|
|Recipe for Success||
Brigette I Design
Parties for Pennies
|Lauren Caselli Events|