Julia Lake, Professional Party Planner

Julia Lake, Professional Party Planner

the 10
things I swear by to plan a successful event

One thing's for sure—JULIA LAKE knows how to throw a bash. The Napa Valley native resides in ultra-hip Brooklyn, yet her reputation for whipping up elaborately themed soirées guarantees her services are sought out on both coasts. Guided by her natural inclination to make every occasion jubilant, she brings out just the right amount of whimsy when setting her pulled-together yet totally easy-going tone (her own fairytale nuptials are proof positive that this gal has a gift for all things festive).

Here, we asked professional party planner, Julia Lake, what she leans on to make every get-together a hit.

  • 1

    Polaroid Instax Camera

    My friend Nicole Cari, a fellow party thrower, gave this to me for one of my birthdays. It adds an instant level of fun to any gathering, and you get to take home a memory.

  • 2

    Napa Style Fine Glassware

    I come from a family of vintners and grew up in Napa Valley so I feel like I'm allowed to be picky about glassware. I like the classic Riedel wine glasses but much prefer the newer Riedel O's because they're comfortable to hold & not as stuffy as long stemware. For champagne—which in my opinion should be served any day of the week at any gathering with over one person—I cherish these Venetian champagne flutes that my mother-in-law bought for me when my husband and I got engaged. I am also obsessed with Rosy-Cheeked coups and have a mish-mash collection of champagne flutes/coups.

  • 3

    Personalized Invitations

    Invitations set the tone of the event. I'm big into having a theme for my events, even if it's just an underlying vibe that I'm going for. If it's a simple dinner party I use Paperless Post but if its anything more than that I send paper invites. It's a lost art. I love sending out custom postcard invites that I design myself and print from Zazzle.com. It's quick, cheap,and people love snail mail!

  • 4

    Laguiole Cutlery

    Randomly, since I was a young girl I've had a deep appreciation of the craftsmanship that goes into Laguiole (pronounced La-ee-ole) servingware and flatware. Some lines (like those available at Williams-Sonoma) are more affordable than others.

  • 5

    A Well-Appointed Bar

    A good hostess never leaves her guests thirsty. Some of my bar essentials include: My family's California wines, Esser Vineyards, a good bourbon like Bulleit, a bottle of Campari, port for an after dinner nip or a dash of Urban Moonshine Bitters to sooth your bellies or spritz on the rims of mixed drinks. This Ballard Designs console is my bar & King Cubes are the best ice cube trays ever.

  • 6

    Bath Time Before It's Go-Time

    I try desperately to take a quick soak in the tub after everything is set up, just before guests arrive. It doesn't always happen but it's a great way to collect yourself and relax—the quiet before the storm. I always count on guests arriving 15 minutes late. In my mind, it's simply rude to show up to a party right on time. I squeeze L'Occitane Almond Oil into the tub because it smells like heaven.

  • 7

    PomLove Party Garlands & Poms

    I discovered PomLove on Etsy and have ordered from them several times. Their poms and garlands come in all sorts of colors, are well-priced and rather fabulous. It's a fun way to add a pop of color to a party room and keep the ambiance from feeling too stuffy. At home, I have a 'party drawer' where I keep a constant supply of confetti, streamers, birthday hats and props. This is actually where I got the idea for one of my services: "Party in a Box". Basically, you tell me your theme, and I send you a box full of fun, customized decorations so all you need to do is hang them up and invite people over!

  • 8

    TableTopics Conversation Starters

    I'm a true lover of games. Seriously—anyone who knows me is aware that I love a good game, which is why I adore TableTopics cards so much. They're provocative cards with questions that get people chatting right away. I'm also one to stir the pot and shake it up, so these are perfect.

  • 9

    Silver Punch Bowl

    I haven't thrown a party in years without my trusted, go-to punch bowl that my mum gave me for Christmas years back. My favorite punch is a mix of Vodka, Rose Lillet, Basil Simple Syrup and Citrus. You can find these bowls for much less at flea markets and antique stores.

  • 10

    Spotify & A Solid Playlist

    I spent a few years living in Paris and can't shake the musical influences I found there. My go-to Spotify stations are Carla Bruni, Patricia Kaas, Gotown Project and of course good ole Ray Charles and Harry Belafonte... until its late-night— then it's dance-party time!

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