Tequila, taxis and face time – Bronson van Wyck’s festive season party guide
The world-famous event planner and author of Born to Party, Forced to Work, shares his tips with The New York Post
If, as an event planner, you number Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Combs, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Beyoncé among your clientele, it’s fairly safe to say you know how to party. This is the position that Bronson van Wyck finds himself in, after two decades in the business. Much of his hard-earned party wisdom has been distilled into van Wyck’s new book, Born to Party, Forced to Work. However, this festive season he also found time to offer a few tips to Christmas revellers, via a new interview, published in The New York Post.
Fro example, are you planning to rearrange your room? If so, you might want to take a few pictorial notes. "If you’re moving furniture or keepsakes to accommodate guests, always take a picture before doing so," Bronson says. You’ll save yourself hours of wondering if everything is just right."
Once that's all in place, and the doorbell goes, don't forget to actually spend a bit of time with your guests. "Make sure you aren’t so tied up with your hosting duties that you forget to make time for your guests,” he counsels. “It’s essential to have face time with everyone attending your party. This can come in the form of greeting guests at the door, passing out canapes or refilling drinks.”
There’s a little more insider knowledge for party-friendly interiors too. “We use color theory to inform these combinations by, for example, using a tiny bit of red next to something blue,” he reveals. “The red makes the blue look bluer, and the blue makes the red look redder. On flowers, I’m inspired by 16th- and 17th-century Dutch still lifes, where each exquisite blossom is carefully chosen in order to create a true composition.”
Indeed, the décor tips extend to lighting too. “The best way to light people is through a simple Rule of Three: three sources from three directions in three colors. Overhead lighting, such as that from a chandelier; gentle side lighting, such as light from sconces; and light from below to lift and firm,” he says. “Votive candles are the simplest way to get this final effect, and they’re practically free, so I always light more than I need and then take some away.”
Creating contrasts with food and drink is key too. Food trucks might be out, he says, it’s still “all about the high-low combo. Offer up proteins straight from the cutting board, serve fried chicken on silver platters and sliced steak on beautiful china, and hand out hot frites seasoned with sea salt right out of the oil,” he says. “Serve flights of different mezcals so guests can learn which they like, for example, or ice-cold vodka infused with a variety of fruits and vegetables.”
That booze should get the party swinging; and when it is popping off, don't slam on the brakes. "You should never stop the party when it’s in full swing," he advises. "Guests are always going to remember the first and last thing that happened to them, so you don’t want their lasting impression of the evening to be you yelling at them."
Still, there are some clever ways to call an end to a party, without being a complete pooper. “To keep people on your good side but get them out of the house, suggest a group outing to your favorite bar for some dancing or a diner for a late-night snack,” he says. “Call some Ubers, and once everyone is loaded in the cars, no one will be too upset if you suddenly say you’re too tired to go.”
And what do you do when the party is over? Not very much, to begin with, advises Bronson. “At the end of the night, blow out the candles, rinse off the dishes and load the dishwasher. Everything else can wait until the morning.”
Want to spend a bit longer with this legendary party planner? Then buy a copy of Born to Party, Forced to Work, here. In this new book, van Wyck, the man Vogue called 'The Wizard of Oz of New York party planning,' distils the art of celebration into one volume, with examples drawn from his many successes - and, admittedly, a few entertaining failures. Lusciously illustrated with images from van Wyck's most spectacular events, this is the perfect primer on throwing parties that are as much fun to give as they are to attend.