Holiday Party Planning with Mindy Weiss

Holiday Party Planning with Mindy Weiss

12/18/2021

The world-renowned event planner, best-selling author, and entrepreneur is a legend in her industry, known for bringing to life some of the most memorable celebrations for A-list celebrities for almost three decades. Mindy's events create a full experience for guests, evoking a sense of wonder but also a sense of belonging. So, with holiday gatherings on the horizon, we reached out to her to ask for advice on her favorite hosting and entertaining tips to make your event feel special. Her recommendations are to make it personal—involving your loved ones in the planning process and giving a lot of attention to detail to the personal preferences of those attending your get-together. We also got a chance to speak with Mindy about her start, her advice to folks just starting out in the industry and what she's most looking forward to this holiday season. Read on for more. Header Image shot by Dennis Kwan Photo

It's an honor to chat with you, Mindy! You are a legend of the event planning world, a best-selling author, and have expanded into lifestyle and brand collaborations. Tell us how you got your start. 

My upbringing is what gave me my start. In our house, my mom planned the best parties. They were wildly creative, fun, funny, over-the-top, and themed to perfection—she was the ultimate hostess. So I learned from the best, though I didn't plan on becoming a party planner. 

Many, many years later, I owned a custom stationery business, and one of my clients asked me to plan their party. At first, I said no; I didn't think I wanted to be a party planner. But luckily, this client was very persistent, and I eventually said yes. That first event was a 75th birthday party, which led to my next ten referrals and events. And I guess you could say—the rest was history. 

Your events are known for their creativity and unique personal touches. Do you feel that incredible attention to detail and sense of intimacy bring these occasions to life?

Yes. I try to leave that signature on every event I do, making it very apparent whose event it is. Whether we feature the client's favorite food, color, music, or flower, it has to be personalized to that event, that host, or couple. When they walk into the room, I want guests to know exactly what event they are at. If a guest has ten holiday parties to attend, what makes yours, you, and thus, makes your event stand out?  

From connecting with the client to bringing the design to life, what are your favorite moments throughout the planning process? 

During the design process, when we have eliminated (through design mood boards) what the client doesn't like and then we produce an actual sample of what we envision for their event—that is my favorite part. We go to their home or the venue or alternative environment, and through furniture, food, flowers, or even a mini-event setup, we show the client what we plan to create. I love that surprise when they get to see what was in their head come to life!

 

What feelings do you hope to evoke in your clients and their guests at your events? A sense of wonder has to be up there, right?

A sense of wonder for sure! But also to create an environment that they don't want to leave. I want clients and guests to not want the event to end or for them to say they've never thought of that before. I know I've done a really great job when no one leaves the party!

'Tis the season! Could you describe your creative process when designing for holiday festivities? 

When I design holiday events, once the date has been selected, I start by finding the venue or going to the home where it will be held. Then I sit down with the clients while they show me their inspiration of what they hope for or love. After that meeting, I will make a mood board to see if we captured what the client was dreaming of—the fabrics, colors, foods, etc. If I am on track, we will then make a mini version of the food tasting or flowers and visual details so they can become a bigger part of the process. Then I'm busy booking all the perfect vendors for their event—catering, furniture, floral, etc. From there, we discuss music. We need to fill the room with a beautiful holiday vibe, so we start by making a sample playlist. Then we schedule the install and bring it all to life! Sometimes we install the décor a week ahead of time or the day of. It just depends on the size and scope of the event. 

We loved your recent 7 Tips For Holiday Home Decor post. Is there one recommendation you'd have for those entertaining and hosting events this season?

Always include the family in the décor. Make it personal. I once went to a client's home, and she had all these family photos out, not in frames, but laying on tables. So, we surprised her with part of the décor and framed ten of them. It made for great party conversation. 

 

 

Similarly, what are your favorite foods and beverages to include on our holiday menus? 

When thinking of beverages, it's important to always go into attention to detail for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. For an alcoholic holiday drink, I love a peppermint martini. It's festive and fun, and you can hang a candy cane out of it to make a great conversation starter. For non-alcoholic options, I love a cider bar. There are really creative and delicious ciders available now, and you can make a display with several of them. 

I like to pass a demitasse, warm tomato soup with a little grilled cheese for holiday party food ideas. I like comfort food. I don't like to be too fancy with food. Stick to fan favorites. If you're hosting at home, serve your favorite family recipes. 

What elements of styling events do you bring home to your home's holiday decor? How would you describe your at-home look? 

I am weak for paperwhites. I think they are great for any holiday, but I fill my house with paperwhites this time of year. It's festive and neutral. Then I light every candle I have and keep it simple. 

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to the most with your family this year? 

I'm so looking forward to all being back together again. I'm very excited about that! My family became gamers during Covid, so we'll partake in a new family tradition of a puzzle and a few games.

You're also known for your generosity when sharing advice with those just getting started in event planning. What is your go-to piece of advice you usually give? 

Don't only concentrate on weddings. The holidays can really inspire ideas for weddings as well. Don't limit yourself. 

What are your sources of inspiration—do you turn to art installations, exhibitions, or other creatives?

Mostly I turn to interior design and home décor magazines, even the Lulu and Georgia catalog. I love furniture and home catalogs in general. The styling is great, and they always have beautiful flowers and color palettes.

What's next for you and Mindy Weiss Party Consultants?

The truth is, it's a little day-by-day these days. Every day is a surprise in the event and wedding industry right now. But we have a very exciting 2022, with many exciting events happening.

Personally, I plan to redo my grandkids' room at my house since they're all getting older. I'm having fun with that inspiration. 

 

Photography shot by John & Joseph Photography