Party Decor: Celebrations at home with Chris Nease
What inspired you to become a party stylist?
I’ve always been a very visual person, especially when it relates to fashion, home decor, and the pretty little details. After moving to a new state where we didn’t know anyone, I decided to host a holiday party to meet the neighbours and new co-workers. I quickly began to realise my passion for entertaining and designing parties and the night was a success. That was 14 years ago and I’ve been smitten ever since.
What were the early years like? Did you start your popular blog simultaneously or did that happen later?
I started writing my blog as a point of reference for my party styling business. It was a place to gather and share ideas, and my point of view. To my delight, the blog has grown into a business all its own and my focus has shifted from “designing parties for other people” to “inspiring and sharing how you can do it yourself.”
What are the various kinds of events you have designed? Do you undertake everything from conceptualisation to execution?
I’ve designed holiday parties, birthdays, baby showers, small weddings, and theme parties. My main purpose is to pull all the little details and decorative elements together in a unified way and to “tell a story” with the design. It includes vendor procurement as well as a lot of DIY projects.
You also write for several publications. Could you tell us more about these various aspects?
Since my business has become more about sharing my knowledge and experience, I’m thrilled to freelance as a writer and stylist for several other sites. I was lucky enough to be approached to do some guest articles very early on by Celebrations.com. A couple of years later when they were looking for contributors, we already had that relationship so it was an easy fit. I love what I do for them—I get to create editorial designs! I also share party ideas regularly on Tablespoon, and Occasions.
Chris Nease’s tips on entertaining with style:
1 – Invite the right mix of people and include extroverted personalities who can add life to the party.
2 – Adding a signature cocktail to the party is simple but adds that special touch. Have it ready to pour as your first guests arrive.
3 – I strongly believe in “self-serve” stations so that you (the hostess) can relax and enjoy the party too. Put out the entire bar accoutrements as well as buffet items and let the guests help themselves. By planning ahead you’ll save yourself the trouble of running around like a waitress during the party.
4 – Spend a little on a bunch of flowers for a centerpiece or to place in bud vases. This bit of life and colour always adds style.
5 – Know your group and serve them accordingly. For instance, if you have vegetarians be sure to have items they can eat. If you have guests with picky palates, stick to tried and true recipes. For a more adventurous crowd, try a more eclectic menu.
6 – Real dishes add instant style and you can invest in plain white plates that can be used for all occasions. This saves money and the environment in the long run.
7 – Coordinate music with the overall theme or feel of the party. Appeal to all the senses!
8 – Choose one focal point of the party and make it stand out with a fabulous backdrop, fun banners, or hanging decor.
9 – Tie all the different areas of the party together by “cross pollinating” decorative elements such as fabric, signage, or other accents.
10 – Get creative with what you already have. Look at items in a new way and incorporate them into your design. Old crates, baskets, boxes, etc can be used as risers to add height to food display, or turned on their side to act as a shadowbox display for drinking glasses, flowers, or other elements.