Party Plan

Every summer, my partner and I co-host a party with another couple, inviting a couple hundred people. It’s informal and low-key, usually held outdoors. Sloppy joes, chips, and assorted relishes are served, and there’s often a “special” punch to wash it all down. I like to think of the night as a come-as-you-are-and-leave-as-someone-happier kind of event. Tequila helps, of course.

Now, I’m no expert, but I think there’s a fundamental reason for our party’s continued success: We host it at our collaborators’ home. It’s nicer and more spacious than our place, and the rooftop deck has a great view of the cityscape. What’s more, we never get stuck cleaning the bathroom.

A few weeks ago, Minnesota Monthly orchestrated a similar stunt: We threw a party at the century-old home of Anne M. Cramer. An etiquette expert turned fashion designer, Cramer knows a thing or two about elegant design, as well as the kind of social graces expected of a good host. So when she offered to let us stage a photo shoot in her beautiful south Minneapolis manse, we jumped at the chance.

And so, over the course of two days, Minnesota Monthly’s art director, Rob Johnson, and style editor, Katie Dohman, with the help of stylist Grant Whittaker and photographer David Schmit, threw a party. Actually, they threw two parties, staging a daytime fête followed by an evening gala. The results, revealed in the story that begins on page 56, are quite literally night and day. But the fact that both scenes were shot in the same house is worth noting. The elegance of the setting is inherent, but it’s the colors, accents, dishware, and centerpieces that really make the mood. Chic or kid-friendly? Sweetly spring-like or darkly seductive? It depends on the little stuff. The details matter more than the venue—or even, as Dohman points out, the budget.

Naturally, I plan to pass along some of these decorating tips to the couple that hosts our party. And I may even look into buying some buntings or an inexpensive candelabra for the buffet table. But I know what you’re thinking, and, no, I’m not going that far: The sloppy joes will stay.

Joel Hoekstra, Editor


Stylist Grant Whittaker is a man of many talents. Just a few of his titles include senior style editor, fashion producer and host, and internationally acclaimed stylist. Originally from Germany, Whittaker sets the styling table with European flair, class, and good self-esteem value. Locally, his work has graced the covers of Minnesota Monthly, Twin Cities Luxury, Minnesota Bride, and Chicago Social.

Sean Mccabe’s one-of-a-kind illustrations have appeared in such publications as GQ, Wired, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. In addition to illustrating, McCabe has worked as an art director, and designed and photographed numerous album covers. He lives in New York with his wife and dog, and fills the little free time he has with music, film, photography, and collecting vintage guitars and vinyl records.

David Paul Schmit is one of five photographers who make up Maki Strunc Photography, a commercial studio based in Golden Valley. His past clients include Target, Room & Board, and Spezzatino magazine, to name a few. Though an artist by trade, Schmit says his true passion is cooking and photographing food. He adds that he considers himself lucky to be part of the Twin Cities’ creative community.

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