Entertaining in 2017: Experts Predict the Top Trends

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In preparation for a new year of parties, we asked 12 of the country's top event experts for their take on the top entertaining trends for 2017.

Well, did you hear that? That’s quite a change.

Ciao, bellas e bellos. Now that 2016 is preserved in amber, it’s time to embrace a new year of soirées Instagrammable. In preparation, we spoke with a dozen of the nation’s leading event experts to get their take on the top entertaining trends for 2017. Perhaps it’s a bow to the popularity of the Netflix series, The Crown, but all agree that this year we’ll be viewing our parties through gem-colored glasses. And we don’t mean Mason jars, because those cute little vessels and the whole rustic vibe is très passé (for now, anyway). Glamour is back, along with this pretty green amethyst hue that will be sprouting up everywhere. Mix yourself a Prediction, and read on. It’s time to get this party started.

Photo: Kent Drake Photography for Marina Birch 

Marina Birch, the founder of Birch Design Studio and a member of Town & Country’s Wedding Advisory Board, has a degree in art history from Princeton University that influences the aesthetics of her sophisticated events. 

This year, high style and glamour will return. Think city chic over country cool. You’ll see delicate champagne coupes, beautifully bordered linens (ironed!), and a refined worldliness, as opposed to Mason jars, weathered wood, and rusticity. French-inspired cuisine will also make a comeback with locally sourced ingredients being whipped into haute hors d’oeuvres, decadent dinners, and sinful sweets. It’s all très Parisienne! Interior design trends will also play a role in party décor this year, but they’ll be applied in a refined and well-edited way that creates magical and whimsical environments.

Marcy Blum is the founder of Marcy Blum Associates, whose clients include Billy Joel, Katie Lee Joel, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, and Padma Lakshmi.

This year, there will be a lot of “just because” home entertaining because the world is a scary place and we’re going to need some mood elevating. Destination parties for birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestone events will also be popular as people look for fun ways to escape from it all. We’ll also see lots of deep, bold colors and textured tabletop details that go beyond flowers and centerpieces. Serving an entire dinner in courses of small plates will also make an impact this year.

In preparation for a new year of parties, we asked 12 of the country's top event experts for their take on the top entertaining trends for 2017.

Photo: Ken Fulk 

Ken Fulk is an event and interior designer, author, and member of The Salonniere 100 who has planned parties for everyone from Jean Paul Gaultier to Napster founder Sean Parker.

We’re currently designing a party for next month’s New York Fashion Week that captures the biggest entertaining trends for the year, which are luxury, glamour, and bold color. Guests will see timeless and layered living rooms recreated in a swath of peony pink and cat’s-eye green — think Schiaparelli meets Mr. Fulk’s Flower Factory. This year will be all about making your guests feel luxurious and joyful. Over-the-top floral moments will also continue to be popular.

Eric Klein is the executive chef and vice president of Wolfgang Puck Catering, which kicked off the year catering the Rose Parade VIP Lounge and has catered the Governors Ball, the official after-party of the Oscars, for the past 22 years.

Eccentric foods and presentations are back. For example, you’ll see a whole fish or a whole lamb being served. Action stations that allow people to interact with their food will also be popular. Classical pasta dishes, like bucatini and carbonara, will be made to order right in front of a guest. Instead of a crudité platter, you’ll see create-your-own salad options and salade rémoulade, which was popular in the early ’80s. Given the popularity of fermented foods like home pickles and pickled red onions, guests will be given the chance to make their own sauerkraut or pickled peppers. Poke will continue to be popular. It will all be very healthy this year.

Photo: Christopher Robbins

Christopher Robbins is the co-founder of Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs, which has catered events for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton, Nina Griscom and Leonel Piraino, and Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney, among others.

This year, we’ll see fewer events with the traditional ten-person table and multiple courses and more small tables, lounging areas, and food stations. Events in the city will be more formal, while parties at the beach will be more casual with succulents, beach grasses, driftwood, and lots of lanterns. We’ll also see a fresh approach to charitable events. There will still be plenty of black-tie events with tables of ten, but we’re going to see a lot more cocktail parties. Those who have run fundraisers for years are stepping down and a new generation is coming in and taking a fresh look at things.

Thomas Bui is the founder of Thomas Bui Lifestyle, which plans events for a long list of national and international A-listers.

This year’s biggest trend in entertaining will be the use of more color. We’re going to see color combinations that don’t normally work in clothes but pair beautifully for an event. Texture will also be important, and layering textures and colors is what will bring out a party host’s individual style and personality.

In preparation for a new year of parties, we asked 12 of the country's top event experts for their take on the top entertaining trends for 2017.

Photo: Victoria Hentrich

Victoria Hentrich is the founder and CEO of Victoria Hentrich Creative Consulting, whose clients range from Willie Nelson to Queen Elizabeth II.

Bring out the charger plates, the crystal, and the silver. It’s time to entertain in grand style because glamour and elegance are back. As for flowers, the idea of letting one type speak for itself in an arrangement will be a key trend. Perhaps all white French tulips or orchids in one color. Popular colors will be blue lapis, pale pink dogwood, and primrose yellow, but bright green will be the color we will see the most this year. It represents a new beginning.

Mikki Gardner is the owner of Mood, which counts Neiman Marcus and the Detroit Institute of the Arts among its clients.

This year, entertaining will be all about quality over quantity with plenty of selectivity and personalization. From the food and drinks to the flowers and décor, everything will be carefully crafted, very intentional, and thoughtfully curated. Minimalism and mindfulness are weaving their way through our culture right now, and they’ll be the buzzwords in entertaining as well.

In preparation for a new year of parties, we asked 12 of the country's top event experts for their take on the top entertaining trends for 2017.

Photo: RGI Events

Rachael Glaws is the founder of RGI Events, which had two events named to this list of the best events of 2016.

This year, fêtes will be smaller and the guest lists more curated. But the big news is that parties in 2017 will be about personalization, with hosts letting their personality and purpose shine through. We’re also going to see wow-factor elements that ignite conversation. For example, signature cocktails will go to an entirely new level with outside-the-box couture drinks, made on the spot, with interesting ingredients like smoked blood-orange rind and lavender champagne foam. Not only will they be delicious to drink, but watching master mixologists whip them up right before your eyes will be a form of entertainment.

Lauren Szymecko is the creative and design manager at Three Tomatoes Catering, which caters events in Colorado and Italy for a diverse group of clients.

This year, foods that were traditionally served on platters will be served in a way that makes them easy to nibble while mingling. For example, charcuterie spreads will be presented in paper cones so they’re “walkable.” We’ll also see plenty of healthy, ethnic foods that feature interesting condiments like harissa, one of our favorite North African flavorings. But the twist will be to keep the menu personal by showcasing local farmers and makers.

And, finally, you may want to clip and keep a copy of Susan Gage’s In/Out List. Susan is the founder of Susan Gage Caterers, which caters thousands of events each year for the Washington elite. Her list sums up the outlook deliciously. 

Entertaining Trends Story Welcome Mashup

Welcome Photo: Ava Gardner
Welcome Quote: Notorious (1946)

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