Home Decor Interview:
Anyone in the mood for a party?
If so, you'll want to get a hold of Jennifer "Jenn" Sbranti and her incredibly useful websites: HostessWithTheMostess.com and HostessBlog.com.
Why? Because Jenn's job is to provide you with the best ideas to make your parties ones to remember. On her blog you'll discover unique ideas that you never thought were possible, and by implementing them at your next gathering, your guests are bound to never forget the experience.
Since all of you read this website for home decor, we thought you'd enjoy a one-on-one interview with Jennifer just in time for the holidays. By taking some of her advice, your holiday parties (and baby showers, and bridal showers, and birthday parties, and...) can be taken to the next level.
With that said, let's meet Jenn!
Thanks for having
me! To “formally” introduce myself, my name is Jennifer Sbranti (but most
people call me Jenn.) I’m the co-founder – along with my husband Sonny – of
Hostess with the Mostess, Inc., which is a company that’s focused on providing
hip, modern, and convenient entertaining ideas.
The main elements
of HWTM are our website –
HostessWithTheMostess.com – and daily blog –
HostessBlog.com, which I try to post on 2-3 times a day. The website
features different party theme ideas for celebrations like baby showers, bridal
showers, and holiday parties – and we really try to feature ideas that are
contemporary and a little outside the box…then give detailed “how to” steps so
that it’s easy for readers to recreate the ideas at home. Our overall goal is
to help make stylish party planning easier. We also feature cool
entertaining-related products and yummy
recipe ideas – including lots of
cocktail recipes of course!
The bulk of our efforts at HWTM are online, but we’re also expanding into other areas. We’ve partnered with Chambord to host the “Hip Hostess Series,” which is a series entertaining workshops/cocktail parties in several cities across the U.S. This has been such a fun collaboration and really fulfilling – especially since the events have enabled us to meet a lot of our readers in person. I also recently designed the first (of what I hope are many!) HWTM-branded products – a line of 81 contemporary digital scrapbooking templates at HowFastTheyGrow.com.
1. Choose a
unique color palette.
There’s no reason
why a holiday party has to be red and green, or a Thanksgiving dinner has to
incorporate the colors of a “country harvest.” Try a bold palette of vibrant
orange, dark chocolate, and lime green for Thanksgiving this year - or
something fun like hot pink and green or aqua and silver for holiday. Really
play up your theme and try to get creative with the details. Incorporate cool
patterns from scrapbook or gift wrap paper, and temporarily remove any regular
décor from the designated party area that might clash with your color palette so
that you can truly transform the space to match your theme!
That being said,
there’s no reason why you can’t get creative with traditional color palettes as
well. One of my favorites holiday themes we created last year at HWTM is a red
and green “Santa Baby” cocktail party. The ultimate goal is to think outside
the box with your décor and the way it’s displayed.
2. Even if you’re having wine or a regular bar at your party, serve a fun signature drink, and do it up right – meaning put some effort into the presentation.
The mixologist at one of the Hip Hostess events we recently held had the cutest idea for making a white “feather boa” for your glass by dipping the rim in whipped white frosting, then shredded coconut. Something like this would be great for a “Winter Wonderland” or silver and white holiday party theme!
Well, the best
thing you can do is to prepare yourself for those things to happen – both
mentally and literally by arming yourself with things like Wine Away, carpet
cleaner, good strategies for politely changing the subject, and pre-determined
chores for Grandma that entail something other than dishes! If you have any
breakable/expensive items you’re especially worried about, stash them somewhere
safe before the party begins, or move them somewhere high or out of the way,
where children or extra-tipsy guests don’t pose a threat to them.
The other thing you have to do is just tell yourself to go with the flow. It’s a party – and life happens. The one thing you really CAN control is the way you deal with those “happenings.”
Focus on the things
that make a big impact on the vibe: music, lighting, food/drinks, and the major
decorative elements – things that will make a big impact without a massive
amount of effort.
Music and lighting
are key in setting the tone of a party. No one likes silence at a party, and
people usually don’t want to be in harsh lighting either. For holiday parties,
candlelight and/or white twinkle lights (the same ones you use on your tree) are
pretty much necessary in my book, because they instantly set a festive mood.
Take it a step further with big, colorful paper lanterns illuminated by
battery-operated LED lights (so that you don’t have to worry about any special
To make the best
use of your time, opt for centerpieces and floral arrangements that aren’t
overly time-consuming. People will notice décor to a certain degree, but
probably not the difference between a centerpiece that took you 30 minute or 3
hours. The same goes for food – don’t feel obligated to do 10 different gourmet
recipes. Focus your efforts on a couple key recipes you definitely want to make,
and keep the rest easy – relying on simple recipes or readymade/pre-prepared
apps that you just pop in the oven or transfer to a serving dish.
5. What do
you do with Max and Jazz (your two dogs) when you throw parties? Sometimes our
guests’ children are too rough with our pets or feed them too many table scraps.
What do you recommend for hosts with pets?
We usually keep Jazz and Max away from our guests – either in the backyard or side yard. If we’re entertaining in the back yard, then we’ll either put them in the side yard or up in our room and check on them intermittently. We usually try to exercise them and tire them out before we have a party so that they’re more likely (and content!) to be sleeping during the party.
Well, I’ve never
seen anything that comes close to rivaling the hilarious “Dinner
Party” episode of the Office, so comparatively to that, everything has been
I have definitely
been to a party where the hostess had just jumped out of the shower, though –
and there have of course been incidents across the years with guests that have
indulged a little too much in the drinks.
For the volume of your music, it’s too loud if it’s interfering with the conversation at all, unless you’re in full-on dance party mode, of course!
My background is in
graphic design, which to me is very similar to party planning – they’re both
about putting things together that mesh well visually – whether it’s a website
or a baby shower. I’ve always loved planning parties, but the idea for the
company really sparked when my friends started getting married and having kids –
and all of the wedding festivities and baby showers kicked into high gear.
This was a few
years ago now – back when blogging wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, and there
was a lot less creativity to be found on the web. I got frustrated with the
results of my searches for stylish baby and bridal shower ideas online – usually
they landed me on party supply stores that were selling the same paper plates
and napkins adorned with baby booties or hearts and doves, or heavy-text pages
with little or no imagery. After a while I thought that since I couldn’t find
what I was looking for – a place with lots of imagery and ideas that were both
modern and approachable (a.k.a. “convenient”), then I’d just make it myself!
My favorite HWTM party theme so far is probably the Bedtime Story baby shower, where the tables are made up to actually look like beds. Bling Bride is a close second though – because it’s really fun and playful…and gives off a great vibe for celebrating with the girls.
Thanks to Jenn, she's inspiring
me to get excited about our next dinner party rather than dread it!
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