Tony Schubert, owner and founder of Event Eleven, produces some of the biggest parties and creative events in town. With more than 11 years of planning large scale, interactive events for an array of entertainment and corporate clients, Schubert knows how to combine cutting-edge, modern ideas with clean, beautiful designs. From blockbuster film premieres, designer fashion shows and award shows, to celebrity weddings and private parties, he revels in the excitement of transforming an ordinary space into a magical one. Schubert’s vision has earned him a stellar reputation in the field as one of the most in-demand event producers in the country. Follow his tips and learn how to impress your guests and throw a great party.
It’s is the key to any good party. Install dimmer switches in every room and hire an electrician if you have to. If you can’t do that, buy amber-colored light bulbs in lower wattage (40 or 20) from any party store, on-line or at Light Bulbs Unlimited. It’s fun to get some inexpensive festoon lights and hang them from one side of the backyard to the other. Also, the Edison bulbs are very popular right now and are a bit more expensive, but worth it for the cool vibe.
Look through a great cocktail book and choose two to four specialty drinks to make and serve. We like Amy Saccos’ new cocktail book, “Cocktails.” Name the drinks based on your favorite shows, such as 30 Rocktini, Modern Family Margy, or Mad Men’s Straight Up. You can even drop in dry ice for a smoky effect. Set up a “make your own” cocktail station for guests to help themselves. If you have 10 to 15 people, then you’re good to serve on your own, but once you get more than 20, you should hire a bartender.
Small bites are always great. You can do something easy like shrimp and chicken skewers or cucumber slices with a dollop of tuna tartare as starters. Add small table cards near each dish, letting guests know what the ingredients are. People like to know if the dish is vegetarian, vegan or made with dairy, etc. You can set up dinner half way through the show and include a broad mix of meat and fish dishes, plus some vegetarian ones. If you don’t want to hire a chef or caterer, you can order from your favorite restaurant. Also, don’t ask guests to bring food if you are hosting the party. In some cases its fine for a casual gathering, but not for the Emmys!
Display all the food in various containers and platters on the table. You can buy or rent them from your local party store and make sure they look like they belong with each other. Also, lose the chairs around the table — nobody wants to reach over a chair to make a plate.
Seating And Vibe
Most living rooms are not set up to entertain more than five to six guests at one time. If you have a sectional that can break apart, open it up to create a better seating plan. You can add more chairs, ottomans or over-sized pillows that guests can lounge on. There are plenty of places around town to rent chairs, including Event Eleven. Make sure to have enough seating for all of your guests, especially if you’ll be watching the Emmys on TV.
Ask guests to dress festively. Having a party is always a great excuse to dress up, and for an Emmy party, you can ask your guests to come dressed as their favorite nomination. What would Don Draper look like arriving to a party in the 50’s or Walter White, the master of meth from “Breaking Bad?” Have fun and get creative!
Have a great mix on hand and play some tunes as guests arrive. It’s so uncomfortable being the first to arrive and even worse when there’s no music playing in the background. If you’ve got a built-in sound system, use that. An iPad or iPhone with speakers can also work. Making a playlist of the shows that were nominated (“theme songs”) is a great way to carry out the theme of the Emmys.
Don’t get too cheesy! It might be fun to do things like silkscreen the Emmy statue onto a poster or make matchstick books with the year and the statue. You can make this very easily on-line for about $25. Another big hit at parties is a photo booth. It’s easier to make than you think: rent a tripod, put your iPhone on it and hang a white sheet. Send the pictures to the printer, cut them out and send them home with your guests. You can also post your photos to Facebook and Instagram immediately.
I’m a big proponent of flowers and tend to do them more on the modern side. We always like to add color to punch up the room. Go to the downtown flower mart, Whole Foods or your local supermarket and buy some hydrangeas, or my favorites: dahlias and peonies. Big flowers make a big impact and last “forever.” Most people take the flowers out of the plastic and put them in a vase, but they should really cut the stems all the way down so the heads of the flowers peek out at the top of the rim and are well-packed. Try punches of color in a long runner with one main focal and three to four smaller vases.
Lastly, since it’s the Emmy awards, ballots are always fun. Have some ready with the nominees listed for guests to fill out and reward the winner with a cool prize, like a gift card to a great restaurant. As a host, it’s easy to get harried, running around making sure everyone has everything they need. Take a moment every now and then and relax, have a drink and have some fun!
Liz Laing is a writer, web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on Liz Laing.