Mes amies, you couldn’t have popped in at a better time. We have event-planning royalty in the house. Hailed by The New York Times as one of the country’s top five event planners, eventiste Marcy Blum has spent the last 30 years designing spectacular soirées for A-list revelers ranging from the Rockefellers, Billy Joel, and Donny Deutsch to LeBron James and Kyra and Kevin Bacon. Marcy’s also a graduate of the Performing Arts High School and the Culinary Institute of America, so her elaborate fêtes are nothing if not fresh and delicious productions. Join us as Marcy dishes about everything from the hottest entertaining trends to how she really feels about Mason jars. As with her creativity, she’s not holding back.
What’s your entertaining style in one word?
What are the hot trends for fall and holiday entertaining?
Reality is tough this season, so we’re going to see a lot of fantasy parties, costume parties, and themed events this fall and winter. Dinner parties will be more loungey in style with passed tasting plates, dim sum, and tapas. Theatrical lighting will be a trend for events both large and small.
What are some entertaining trends that have overstayed their welcome?
Large floral boas running down the center of tables, Mason jars, kitschy flea market and yard sale décor without any rhyme or reason, and cutesy signage.
You’ve been in the event-planning business for three decades. How has it changed over the years?
When I launched my company, the rules for entertaining were more rigid, and it was easy to be creative. Now my clients are much more sophisticated and well-traveled, so it requires a lot of research and thought to create meaningful experiences for them. At the same time, we have more leeway when it comes to what we can produce. So while it’s more challenging, it’s also more fun.
Rebecca Brooks, Marcy Blum, and Katie Lee
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and why?
Wow, that’s tough. I’ve been to some great parties, but the ones that come to mind are Preston Bailey and Theo Bleckmann’s wedding, a few bashes at Studio 54 back in the day, my friend Katie Lee’s Labor Day parties in the Hamptons, and a ball I attended at a chateau in Bordeaux.
You’ve worked with so many celebrities. Who stands out in your mind as an exceptional party host and why?
LeBron James and his wife Savannah are great hosts. They love to have fun with their guests, and it’s obvious. Katie Lee is also a wonderful host. Her food is always fabulous, and she can cook and entertain at the same time without skipping a beat. Bobby Flay is the same way. He hosts the most delicious barbecues at his home in Amagansett. Geoffrey and Margaret Zakarian also throw wonderful parties. Aside from the great food, Geoffrey is partial to magnums of good rosé as am I.
What are the qualities that all great hosts share?
Great hosts have grace. They know how to never, ever look upset when a guest spills red wine on a white carpet or breaks a precious antique vase. Instead, they know to smile and reassure the guest that it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Great hosts also have the ability to enjoy themselves. I disagree with the prevailing idea that hosting a party should seem effortless—it’s alright to seem as if you put a lot of thought and energy into your party, just don’t look panic stricken.
If you were to plan a dream party for yourself, what would be the occasion, where would it be, and who would attend?
It would be a birthday party, and I’d host it in Paris or Tuscany. I’d have my chef friends attend and cook, and we’d have a wonderful dinner with great Bordeaux or Tuscan wines. Dinner would be followed by a wacko dance party with Eminem, Kanye, or Snoop performing.
What party would you most like to go back in time to attend and why?
The Rothschild’s Surrealist Ball—the costumes and design were inspired and so clever.
Getting Tipsy with Marcy Blum
What are your three best tips for throwing a great party?
Walk the party in your mind from a guest’s perspective, hire more staff than you think you’ll need—you’ll always use them, and be intentional about connecting people who you think will find each other interesting.
If someone had $100 to spend on party décor, what would you suggest they buy?
Candles and softer light bulbs.
What are the 10 things you always keep on hand to stay party ready?
Candles; good cheeses and chutneys, jams and interesting crackers to go with them; olives; almonds; frozen hors d’oeuvres like egg rolls and cheese puffs; a bar cart stocked with artisanal gin and quirky mixers; wine; vases; placemats; pretty napkins; and a hilarious selection of cocktail napkins from bar mitzvahs and weddings from the past.
What are you favorite online party resources?
If we’re buying online, we’re probably looking for things that are inexpensive and clever. Both Pearl River Mart and Oriental Trading are quick, easy, and have lots of fun items.
If you had only three hours to prepare for a dinner party for 10, what would you do?
I’d make a wonderful wild mushroom lasagna and an all-greens salad with a perfect vinaigrette, open several bottles of red wine, set my wooden table with a pretty runner and lots of interesting props, and print place cards.
What are your biggest party pet peeves?
When hosts don’t have enough wait staff or bartenders; hosts who insist that certain subjects are “off the table”—heated, intelligent conversations are part of what makes an event interesting; hosts who say things like “Isn’t the food great?” and sound so proud of themselves that it’s obnoxious; and hosts who make you feel that you should be grateful to have been invited to their party.
What is the most overlooked party-planning detail?
What’s the one thing you wish every party host knew?
I wish every party host knew just how fast the party would be over—particularly a milestone occasion like a wedding or birthday party that has taken a tremendous amount of time to plan. If a host doesn’t stop and take an hour before the party to get centered and be present, the party will pass by like a dream.
Playing Favorites with Marcy Blum
I have so many favorites in dinnerware—everything from Hermes to Annie Glass. And I LOVE the Versace Byzantine Dreams pattern. It’s so out there!
Reidel. I’m very fussy about wine glasses. I hate a wine glass with a small bowl. They’re no fun to drink from.
I like the feel and embroidery on vintage table linens. I also love Frette table linens.
Christofle for heavier, more classic styles and Alexis for a sleek and modern look.
Powder room soap?
Powder room candle?
Hostess gift to give?
A beautiful salad bowl with a really good oil and aged vinegar.
Photos: Marcy Blum Associates