Hosting a New Year’s Eve shindig? It Girl event planners Candice Chan and Alison Slight reveal how the professionals pull it off.
Many pride themselves on being excellent hosts, so what separates the amateurs from the pros?
Candice: It’s how often they do the events, the size, the type, the diversity. Experience is what gives them the ability to react quickly to something that might happen and to keep calm in front of clients.
Alison: It’s also the ability to multitask and plan ahead because there’s a difference between having 20 people over to your house in a controlled environment and an event where there might be elements that are difficult to control.
What sorts of elements?
A: For example, if you have too many people show up it’s about managing them with grace, because nobody likes the embarrassment of being turned away at the door. So it’s about trying to accommodate them the best way possible, offering them a drink, treating them like a guest, and inevitably making space for them.
You’ve planned high-profile events in Toronto, Dubai, Thailand. Is it as glamorous as it seems or is it just work?
Both: (Laughing) It’s work.
C: There are glamorous sides. There’s the wine and food tastings, working with talent, like Kanye West, Elton John, Coco Rocha, which is incredible. But there’s also a very unglamorous side: Being onsite at 8 a.m. then packing up after the last person leaves, which can take another two hours. There’s also a lot of heavy lifting in high heels.
What tips would you give for people planning a party tonight?
A: The fundamental thing that every party must have is enough food and alcohol. You want to make sure that everybody’s satiated and having a good time. Another really important element is great music. It’s knowing your crowd, what’s going to let them enjoy the evening and catering to them.
C: Come up with a very simple theme like silver that’s easy to buy market products for. If it’s too complicated you end up stretching yourself out during an already busy holiday season. If you keep it simple all your décor comes off looking effortless and effortless is always the key.
What can you do on a budget that will still give you a little something extra special?
A: Something you can do quite easily are little goody bags. You can throw something together really cheap and cheerful like a candy bar. Inspire people to feel young again. They get a real kick out of things that are young and playful.
Many hosts don’t end up having fun because they spend the party running around like crazy. Is there any way that tradition can be changed?
C: They need to relax! (Laughs) As a host, you’re inviting your guests over and your guests are here to see you. Throw the dishes in the back of the house and deal with them later. Don’t try to clean them while your guests are still here. And if you need help, hire help if you can.