I have done formal invitations in the past when I planned far enough ahead –– I think last year’s said “Meet Me at the Mistletoe” in gold, if I recall correctly, and were quite a hit –– but it’s often thrown together on a lark. I usually spend more time on the food. Yucatán-style chicken and onion stew for instance, takes all day, but it’s worth it, especially served with cinnamon coffee or spiced hot chocolate and Mexican wedding cookies, that you’ve made the night before, for dessert. Fill-in invitations sent by mail a week (for close friends) or two in advance are a nice middle path, or a simple note on your own letterhead. We have house stationery, which is right for every occasion.
For my birthday this year, I decided to have a speakeasy-type gathering, as I had to work during the early part of the evening, overseeing a launch for a rock ‘n’ roll icon. Instead of planning a party, anyone who specifically asked what I was doing for my birthday was invited to come over to my house afterward. My sister baked a Guinness cake, and ordered food, and there was plenty of champagne on hand. By the time I arrived, a dozen friends were there, including one of my oldest pals in New York, who brought the biggest box of Ladurée macaroons I’ve ever seen. I had wished for one.
Among the guests were the London-based, high fashion floral designer Robbie Honey, who showed up for brunch at the Wolseley on the rainy morning we met in blue suede shoes with a clutch of lily of the valley from his own garden for me, and Laura Lobdell, who I love to visit for seaside adventures in Amagansett and whose champagne rings have become their own phenomenon. A stop at her West Village shop is a must.
By the end of the evening, well past midnight, I felt as though I were enjoying my own sort of New Year’s party. Last New Year’s, I decided I’d just have whoever called over for dinner, and by late afternoon every space was spoken for. I don’t often do menus, although I could, as I ordered a pair of pheasant holders from the 1930s from Wales not too long ago. One thing I absolutely insist on, however, is place cards, for any party that numbers more than two. A little advance thinking in that regard is often the unseen key that imparted an element of magic and charm to the most memorable of evenings. It doesn’t have to be scientific, as long as no one sits next to the one who brung ‘em, as the old line goes about who to dance with first. They may go home, of course, with whomever they’d like.
Lauren Cerand, Publicist & Guest Blogger