If you aren’t familiar with Annie Falk, then there is a strong possibility that you don’t frequent events in the Hamptons or Palm Beach often. No worries; I’d be lying if I said I did myself. Instead, I did the next best thing and interviewed Falk about her amazing gatherings, which are captured in her books, most recently Hamptons Entertaining: Creating Occasions to Remember. Her books give readers the opportunity to live vicariously through photographed parties, intimate dinners, galas and fundraisers. In some ways, it’s like seeing all of your Pinterest dreams brought to life; in other ways, it prompts a good reason to throw a party. The one question looming from most of Falk’s followers: How does she throw a party so damn well? Read on.
If you have ever tackled a party as grand as those that Falk is known for then you know organization is everything. Events can take weeks of preparation depending on the circumstances, according to Falk. Outdoor events are obviously beasts of their own. Falk’s go-to resources for planning around weather conditions is her trusty copies of the Old Farmer’s Almanac and moon calendar. Having preconceived expectations on the weather always comes in handy especially if you have to put together a plan B for your outdoor event.
The dreaded themed party can be a polarizing debate: to theme or not to theme? I was surprised but Falk is OK with sticking a theme on a party. “The key is knowing your audience and knowing the reason for the party,” she advises. The trick is to plan a themed party that your guests will actually participate in is the only way to steer away from turning a themed party into a tacky one.
THE DRUNK GUEST
All of us have experienced the unwanted drunken guest (some of us have even been said guest). Whatever the case may be, Falk has her special way of preventing a guest from ruining the night. “If I am personally hosting, I’m very particular about the sizes of the glass that I use. When I pour, I never pour to the rim.” The smaller the glass and the lighter the pour means less intoxicated guests. However, if a guest still drinks too much, Falk insists on safety. “The only rule for me is that they are not driving home whether that means they are staying with me or getting a ride with someone else. As the hostess that is one of your responsibilities. Your guests are giving you their precious gift–their time. Their care is your responsibility.”
Whether you consider a hostess gift a requirement or not, Falk says it’s the polite act to do. “When I visit someone’s home I bring something unique or uniquely personal for the hostess. It’s always great to bring a wonderful bottle of wine or bouquet of flowers, but if you can, go the extra mile,” she says. Some tips to keep your gift unique is to bring something you made such as homemade sweets or a bundle of herbs from your garden. Giving a gift that comes from you and not Williams-Sonoma makes a world of a difference.
Surely you can’t throw a party without food, which leaves us asking what’s on the menu? The menu, says Falk, is always inspired by the season—fruits, veggies and available fish and anything else the local farmers market has to offer. Not only is this an easy way to put together a menu, it’s also a great way to ensure you’re serving the ripest ingredients to your guests. The hardest part of putting together a menu is being aware of guests’ dietary needs. A host must ask guests of any dietary restrictions prior to the event. “Put something together so that they feel [equally] nourished and taken care of,” says Falk.
CAN’T GO WRONG
It can seem overwhelming with all the rules to throwing the perfect party, but in the end, parties are just about people connecting with one another and if you accomplish that then you can’t go wrong. The best part about attending a party is when “you’ve met a good friend or you’ve met someone you connected with on a business level, then that’s impactful.” That’s why if there is one rule you always remember, it is to have fun and make sure your guests are doing the same.