Planning an elaborate awards party at home or just a simple soirée? We asked Kristie Meluso-Avram, founder of KMA Events, a full-service, boutique event-planning firm based in New York City, for her expert advice. Meluso-Avram has an extensive background in both hospitality and the culinary arts. From setting the right mood, to pacing and spacing, to giving your party a fun and personal touch, she shares eight of her greatest home entertaining tips.
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1. Invites. If it’s announced ahead of time, printed invites are a must. If it is a last-minute party, send an email; if it is the same day, a phone call is appropriate, but never text an invitation.
2. As the host, you set the mood. If you are stressed out and rushing around frantically to get things done, your guests will feed off that vibe. Remember the main objective is to make them feel relaxed, comfortable, and well taken care of.
3. Walk through the evening from your guests’ perspective. Before they arrive, walk through each step from entry to exit. This can help you avoid mishaps and commonly forgotten details. Make sure there’s a place to put coats, that candles and hand towels are in the powder room, and that the atmosphere is accentuated by proper mood music.
4. Prepare. Ninety percent of the work should be done before the guests arrive. You don’t need to have everything completely finished, but a few musts for me include being dressed, music on, appropriate lighting set, and appetizers and cocktails ready to go. A signature cocktail greet is a great way to make the party feel personal and fun.
5. Keep a timeline. Dinner should generally be served around 45 minutes from the time guests are enjoying appetizers and cocktails. This gives them time to enjoy a bite, sip a cocktail, and mingle. If you don’t have a schedule, you risk the night falling into a lull.
6. Place cards. These are key for managing the spacing, flow, and conversation of your guests. Make sure to sprinkle out your guests thoughtfully—seat a shy guest next to an extrovert. I love to invite guests of various ages, occupations, and interests; it keeps things intriguing.
7. Do something unexpected and be ready for the unexpected yourself. The element of surprise is wonderful when it comes to a party. Hire a magician, a tarot card reader, or a mixologist—anything to give the party a clever twist. This will ensure the party is memorable. Always prepare an extra seat or two for unexpected guests, and make sure you have enough liquor and ice.
8. Don’t be too rigid. Be ready to toss your timeline and go with the flow if need be. Enjoy!
In 2015, Kristie Meluso-Avram launched KMA Events with the objective to marry her love of
fashion, food, and design to create unique and unforgettable experiences for her clients. Meluso-Avram’s diverse expertise includes weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, charities, brand activations, as well as corporate events, music, beauty, and fashion productions. For more information visit KMAEvents.com