The Perfect Party

Entertaining is back. We’ve spent enough time feeling badly, haven’t we? It’s high time we make our own fun, even if it isn’t a so-called special occasion. Party-throwing seems like an art, but it is possible to balance simplicity, budget, and the wow factor. ¶ We were thrilled to snag our shoot location: local hostess-with-the-mostest and fashion designer Anne M. Cramer opened her gorgeous abode to us and, in her offer, embodied the graciousness and irreverence that gives any party a pitch-perfect tone. We set to work to show how one setting—in this case, Anne’s dining and living rooms—can work for any kind of gathering, from morning casual chic to dinner-and-cocktails sleek.
 

BY DAY

Bridal and baby showers, retirements, graduations—a significant portion of our celebrating is  done by day. Morning or afternoon parties may feel less formal, but they don’t have to be any less polished.

Set the tone with a mailed paper invitation. Design and wording will clue your guests into what to expect and provide a starting place to decorate, says Antoinette Ramos, owner of Paperista, an invitation-design company in Minneapolis.

Mixing tone-on-tone colors is simple, and, when reflected in even the smallest details, makes a big impact. Blues, from sky to cobalt, feel fresh for spring parties. Throw out the old gender tropes when considering color. (We love how, at left, the cake decorations match the polka-dot takeaway boxes  and M&Ms.)
 

Eat.

Don’t overwhelm guests—or yourself—with a heavy menu for daytime parties. Keep light and easy finger foods on hand for snacking. We’d order a plate of sliders or the Pattycakes mini-cupcakes from Yum! in St. Louis Park.  A showstopping cake on a stand makes a dazzling centerpiece until it becomes dessert.

Popcorn balls tinted with food coloring  are a perfect treat for little ones and look great on the table. Plus, they can serve as a dessert, a snack, or a sugary takeaway.
 

Drink.

“Most people don’t feel comfortable drinking wine during the morning or early afternoon, but they have no problem with it once you add bubbles,” says Tim Edmunds, wine director and educator for Crave restaurants. “Go with Prosecco. It’s cheaper than Champagne  and will please more palates. ”
 

Be Merry.

Daytime allows for more whimsy than evening might. “Retro touches are a strong trend,” says Marissa Onheiber, owner of InsertStyle, a styling company in Minneapolis. “Simple-made-modern details like straws, buntings, and retro sodas easily incorporate the look into any setting.”  Throwback details help guests recall more playful times—but the party will still feel pulled together.
 

Cheap Thrills

Small design details can make a big difference without adding a lot to your budget. We loved the graphic impact of this vintage ice bucket (from Hopkins Antiques) and these Jean Paul Gaultier-designed water bottles (on discount at T.J. Maxx).
 

Expert Advice on Invitations

Erin Newkirk, owner of Red Stamp, an online stationery and invitations company based in Minneapolis, answers our etiquette questions on invitations and RSVPs.
• Make it easy to reply. List multiple ways to RSVP—phone, email, Facebook.
• Add a deadline. It gives guests a timeline, and it gives you a reason to reach out if you don’t receive a response.
• Send invites early. You need a head count for planning and guests need time to make their own
arrangements to be there.
 

Decked-out DÉcor

Big, round balloons as party décor feel modern again. Same goes for buntings, which can trumpet an honored guest or sentiment. Their simple nature makes them low-cost at party-supply stores or on Etsy.com. DIY works, too!
 

BY NIGHT

Cocktail dresses, bow ties, sequins, and martini shakers. A few simple elements can make an evening party seem ritzy.

“It’s not so coincidental that home entertaining and Mad Men are on the rise at the same time,” says Marissa Onheiber, owner of InsertStyle, a styling company based in Minneapolis. “There is this dinner-party connection in the way we dress, entertain, design, and style our homes that has become a trend.”

Amp up the drama with evening parties. A dinner party can never go wrong in classic black-and-white, accented  with sequinned  runners and and mixed metallics—something that would feel garish by day. No overhead lights, please! Illuminate your space with lots and lots of candles. It sets a sophisticated mood and makes us all look younger.
 

Eat.

An evening party—even a formal dinner party—doesn’t have to mean hours and hours in the kitchen. Consider hiring help—even just for last-minute prep work or to plate and serve. Or save some cash by asking a good-natured friend or relative (who wouldn’t otherwise be invited to  the party, of course) to pass plates and mix drinks.

Borrow a breakfast menu for dinner. It keeps prep simple and it’s on trend. Order individual quiches—we love the ones at Patrick’s Bakery & Café in Minneapolis. Pair them with an elegant green salad. Done!
 

Drink.

Edmunds suggests pairing wines “density to density”—the light flavors of shellfish need a lighter-bodied white, while a medium-bodied white like Viognier or Chardonnay stands up to a more heavily flavored chicken satay. Or pair based purely on flavor contrast: For example, sweeter wines, such as Riesling, balance spicy Asian cuisine. 
 

Be Merry.

Is the guest list a mix of family, coworkers, softball-team members, and out-of-towners? It’s your job to connect future friends. “Make sure you introduce guests as they arrive to someone with a common interest,” says Erin Newkirk, owner of Red Stamp, an online stationery store based in Minneapolis. “Give a little context for each person. Chat for a few minutes, then return to your other duties.”
 

Expert Advice on Planning

Marissa Onheiber is the owner of InsertStyle, a party and styling business in Minneapolis. Here, a few of her observations:

  • If you’re planning a party and thinking it isn’t fun, call a planner.  It will show in your party if you are stressed out.
  • Party planners have great relationships with caterers, rental companies, and other vendors, which means you might save money or get a vendor that would otherwise be booked. 
  • People are definitely doing smaller-scale, more intimate parties, and planners can help with those—it doesn’t need to be a giant production.

The Glassory

Be prepared to serve drinks and cocktails in their proper vessels. Glassware can get very specific, but a good basic bar is stocked with Champagne flutes, glasses for both red and white wine, martini glasses, and, of course, the shaker.

Cheap Chic

A statement piece or two can set the mood, without breaking the bank. The silver asymetic vase made an excellent mantlepiece; and the black pillar worked in place of a candelabra on the dining table. (They cost just $40 and $20 at HomeGoods.) 
 

* See behind the scenes of our parties photoshoot at MNMO.com/parties.

 

Party Resources: Where, Who & How

Need a venue for 400 guests? Or graduation-party invitations that look as sharp as a newly minted diploma? Here’s a select list of Minnesota venues, caterers, florists, party planners, and other business that can help you throw an impressive party.
 

VENUES

MAX CAPACITY: UP TO 50

Downtowner Woodfire Grill
253 W. Seventh St., St. Paul
651-228-9500
downtownerwoodfire.com

FireLake Grill House
& Cocktail Bar

31 S. Seventh St., Mpls.
612-216-3473
firelakerestaurant.com

Pittsburgh Blue
11900 Main St. N., Maple Grove
763-416-2663
pittsburghbluesteak.com

Rojo Room
1610 West End Blvd.,
St. Louis Park
952-657-5385
rojomexicangrill.com
 

MAX CAPACITY: UP TO 100

The Capital Grille
801 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
612-692-9000
thecapitalgrille.com

Chino Latino
2916 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
612-824-7878
chinolatino.com

The Dining Studio
1121 Jackson St. NE, Mpls.
612-331-3310
createcaters.com

Loring Pasta Bar
327 14th Ave. SE, Mpls.
612-378-4849
loringpastabar.com

Nicollet Island Inn
95 Merriam St., Mpls.
612-331-1800
nicolletislandinn.com

Salut Bar Americain
917 Grand Ave., St. Paul
651-917-2345
salutbaramericain.com

Surfside on Lake Superior
Hwy. 61, Tofte
218-663-6875
surfsideonsuperior.com

Tria Restaurant and Bar
5959 Centerville Rd.,
North Oaks
651-426-9222
triarestaurant.com
 

MAX CAPACITY: UP TO 200

Bluefin Bay Resort
7192 W. Hwy. 61, Tofte
218-663-7296
bluefinbay.com

Campiello
6411 City West Pkwy.,
Eden Prairie
952-941-6868
campiello.damico.com

Forepaugh’s Restaurant
276 S. Exchange St.,
St. Paul
651-224-5606
forepaughs.com

Grand Hall of Farmington
217 Oak St., Farmington
952-807-2417
grandhallstudio.com

Guthrie Theater
818 Second St. S., Mpls.
612-377-2224
guthrietheater.org

Lutsen Resort
5700 W. Hwy. 61, Lutsen
218-663-7212
lutsenresort.com

Minnesota Boat Club on Raspberry Island
1 S. Wabasha St., St. Paul
612-253-0255
boatclub.org

Paradise Charter Cruises
952-474-8058
twincitiescruises.com

Seven Sushi Ultralounge
and Skybar

700 Hennepin Ave.,
Mpls.
612-238-7777
7mpls.com

Vic’s on the Minneapolis Riverfront
201 Main St., Mpls.
763-544-0818 x19
vicsdining.com
 

MAX CAPACITY: UP TO 300

Café & Bar Lurcat
1624 Harmon Place, Mpls.
612-486-5500
cafelurcat.com

Crystal Lake Golf Club
16725 Innsbrook Dr.,
Lakeville
952-432-6566
crystallakegolfcourse.com

Edina Country Club
5100 Wooddale Ave., Edina
952-927-0687
edinacountryclub.org

Embassy Suites Airport
7901 34th Ave. S.,
Bloomington
952-854-1000
embassysuites.hilton.com

Hennepin Stages
824 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
612-373-5671
hennepintheatretrust.org

Lake Elmo Inn Event Center
3712 Layton Ave. N.,
Lake Elmo
651-779-5994
leieventcenter.com

Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Blvd.,
Apple Valley
952-431-9200
mnzoo.com

Pracna on Main
117 Main St. SE, Mpls.
612-805-8207
pracna.com

Rockwoods Banquet Center
9100 Quaday Ave. NE,
Otsego
763-441-6322
rockwoodsgrill.com

Rose Vine Hall
2801 Snelling Ave. N.,
Roseville
651-379-1185
rosevinehall.com

Science Museum of Minnesota
120 Kellogg Blvd. W.,
St. Paul
651-221-2550
smm.org

Spill the Wine
1101 Washington Ave., Mpls.
612-339-3388
spillthewinerestaurant.com
 

MAX CAPACITY: UP TO 400

Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.
612-332-1010
dakotacooks.com

Jax Café
1928 University Ave. NE,
Mpls.
612-789-7297
jaxcafe.com

The News Room
990 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.
612-343-0073
thenewsroommpls.com

Wabasha Street Caves
215 Wabasha St. S.,
St. Paul
651-224-1191
wabashastreetcaves.com
 

MAX CAPACITY: 400 OR MORE

Brit’s Pub
1110 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.
612-332-1442
britspub.com

Calhoun Beach Club
2925 Dean Pkwy., Mpls.
612-928-7600
damicocatering.com

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Dr., St. Paul
651-487-8250
comozooconservatory.org

The Depot
225 Third Ave. S., Mpls.
612-375-1700
thedepotminneapolis.com

DS Event Center
1508 University Ave. W.,
St. Paul
651-641-7544
dseventcenter.com

Epic Event Center
110 N. Fifth St., Mpls.
612-332-3742
epicmpls.com

Fine Line Music Café
318 First Ave. N., Mpls.
612-338-8100
finelinemusic.com

Golden Valley Golf and
Country Club

7001 Golden Valley Rd.,
Golden Valley
763-732-4100
gvgcc.com

The Great Hall
180 E. Fifth St., Suite 160,
St. Paul
651-291-3579
thegreathall.net

The Great Room
at Mall of America

60 East Broadway,
Bloomington
952-883-8853
mallofamerica.com

Graves 601 Hotel
601 First Ave. N., Mpls.
866-523-1100
graves601hotel.com

The Harrington Mansion
& Zuhrah Shrine

Event Center
2540 Park Ave., Mpls.
612-253-0255
mintahoe.com/go/venues/zuhrah-shrine-center

McNamara Alumni Center
200 Oak St. SE, Mpls.
612-624-9831
mac-events.org

Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power St., Mpls.
612-253-0255
mintahoe.com/go/nicolletislandpavilion

Padelford Riverboats
651-227-1100
riverrides.com

Profile Event Center
2630 University Ave. SE,
Mpls.
612-462-1501
profileeventcenter.com

The Saint Paul Hotel
350 Market St., St. Paul
651-292-9292
saintpaulhotel.com

Solera
900 Hennepin Ave.,
Mpls.
612-338-0062
solera-restaurant.com

Varsity Theater
1308 Fourth St. SE, Mpls.
612-378-4849
varsitytheater.org

 

PARTY RENTAL COMPANIES

AARCEE Classic Events
5300 W. 35th St.,
St. Louis Park
952-922-7233
aarcee.classiceventsandtents
.com

Affordable Elegance Rental
1800 Vermillion St., Hastings
651-437-6050
affordable-elegance-rental.com

Apres Party and Tent Rental
7625 Cahill Rd., Edina
952-942-3399
apresparty.com

Broadway Party & Tent Rental
7409 Jolly Ln.,
Brooklyn Park
763-424-6155
broadwaypartyrental.com

Dynamic Drape and Lighting
4619 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls.
612-269-7011
dynamicdrape.com

Festivities
3969 County R. 116, Medina
763-682-4846
festivitiesmn.com

General Rental Center
216 Sandberg Rd., Monticello
763-295-2300
generalrentalmonticello.com

Lasting Impressions
3431 The Mall, Minnetonka
612-245-4791
lastingimpressionsweddings
.com

Linen Effects, Inc.
1801 West River Rd. N., Mpls.
612-355-2500
lineneffects.com

Mani Mela Linen
7515 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 129, St. Louis Park
612-877-0897
youreventunveiled.com

Midway Party Rental
2110 Gilbert, St. Paul
651-644-0005
midwaypartyrental.com

North Suburban Rental
13763 Johnson St. NE,
Ham Lake
763-767-4828
northsuburbanrental.com

Omega Event Services
680 Commerce Dr., Suite 155, Woodbury
651-271-3548
omegaeventservices.com

Sitting Pretty
Lakeville
651-253-6584
sitting-pretty.net

Superior Tent Rental
13910 Palm St. NW, Andover
763-434-0451
superiortent.com

Total Rental
441 First Ave. W., Shakopee
952-445-1022
totalrentalshakopee.com

We’ve Got It Covered
14825 Camero Ln., Rosemount
651-214-6673
wevegotitcovered.net

Ultimate Events
8933 Lyndale Ave. S., Bloomington
952-346-0102
ue-mn.com

 

CATERERS

7 Catering
700 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls.
612-746-1714
7mpls.com

Apples Catering by Mintáhoe
2117 W. River Rd., Suite 100, Mpls.
612-253-0255
mintahoe.com

Black Cat Natural Foods
By appt. only
Mpls.
612-327-1820
blackcatnaturalfoods.com

Broders’ Cucina Italianna
2308 W. 50th St., Mpls.
612-925-3113
broders.com

Buca di Beppo
1204 Harmon Pl., Mpls.
612-288-0138
bucadibeppo.com

Catered by Colette
10301 Bren Road W., Minnetonka
952-746-7577
cateredbycolette.com

A Chef’s Production (for events at the Target Center)
600 First Ave. N.,
Mpls.
612-673-8099 achefsproduction.com

Chindian Catering
1500 E. Hennepin Ave.,
Mpls.
612-676-1818
chindiancafe.com

Chocolate Cascade Heaven
952-496-0558
chocolatecascadeheaven.com

Chowgirls Killer Catering
1222 Second St NE,
Mpls.
612-203-0786
chowgirls.net

Common Roots Catering
2558 Lyndale Ave. S.,
Mpls.
612-353-4261
commonrootscatering.com

Cook in the Kitchen
1240 Amundson Ct.,
Stillwater
763-218-9583
cookitkitchen.com

CRAVE Catering
612-746-2999
mn.craveamerica.com/catering

Create Catering
1121 Jackson St. NE, Suite 145, Mpls.
612-331-3310
createcaters.com

Crowning Touch Catering
4355 Winnetka Ave. N.,
New Hope
763-533-6424
crowningtouchcatering.com

D’Amico Catering
275 Market St., Suite C25, Mpls.
612-238-4444
damicocatering.com

The Deco Catering
2010 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
612-623-4477
decocatering.com

Delightful Bitefull
1870 Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake
612-245-4219
delightful-biteful.com

Elite Espresso Catering
Mpls.
763-533-1300
eliteespresso.com

Fat Lorenzo’s
5600 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls.
612-822-2040
fatlorenzos.com

Lancer Catering
Multiple locations
651-290-9864
lancercatering.com

Lettuce Cater
Mpls.
651-294-7998
lettucecater.com

Lunds and Byerly’s Catering
3777 Park Center Blvd.,
St. Louis Park
952-897-9800
catering.lundsandbyerlys.com

The Meadows Café and Catering
4057 Hwy. 7, St. Louis Park
952-920-8566
themeadowscafe.com

Mintáhoe Catering & Events
Multiple locations
612-253-0255
mintahoe.com

Pairings Food and
Wine Market

6001 Shady Oak Rd., Minnetonka
952-426-0522
pairingsfoodandwine.com

Paradise Charter Cruises
P.O. Box 563, Excelsior
952-474-8058
twincitiescruises.com

Patrick’s Bakery & Café
6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.
612-860-0714
patricksbakerycafe.com

The Perfect Dessert
5115 Excelsior Blvd., Suite 430, Mpls.
952-393-5115
bunnypecks.com

Picnics Plus
2117 West River Rd., Mpls.
612-253-0255
mintahoe.com/go/catering/picnics-plus

Taher Catering
5570 Smetana Dr., Minnetonka
952-945-0505
taher.com

Three Sons Signature Cuisine
2322 Blaisdell Ave. S., Mpls.
612-874-0880
threesonskitchen.com

Simply Twisted Catering
Mpls.
763-381-9387
simplytwistedcatering.com

Sweet Taste of Italy
6023 42nd Ave., Crystal
763-533-6554
sweettasteofitaly.com

We Cater To You
10000 Hwy. 55, Plymouth
763-546-9346
wecatertoyou-mn.com

 

FLORISTS

Appleblossom Flowers
1389 Wellesley Ave.,
St. Paul
651-699-4532
appleblossom-flowers.com

Bachman’s
Multiple locations
612-861-7311
bachmans.com

Bastian + Skoog
310 N. Second St., Mpls.
612-333-6450
bastianskoog.com

Bellagala Floral Design
235 E. Sixth St., Suite 300B,
St. Paul
651-227-1202
bellagala.com

Buttercup Fields
4320 Evergreen Ln. N., Plymouth
612-751-3265
buttercupfields.com

Chez Bloom Floral
4310 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls.
612-822-2003
chezbloom.com

Crystal Lake Floral Design
1420 Dowling Ave., Mpls.
612-522-3316
crystallakefloral.com

HollySwift Floral Design
2779 Lake Blvd.,
North St. Paul
612-759-0624
hollyswift.com

Indulge & Bloom
Multiple locations, Mpls.
612-343-0000
indulgeandbloom.com

La Petite Fleur
St. Paul
651-402-3798
lapetitefleurmn.com

Laurel Street Flowers
488 Hamline Ave. S.,
St. Paul
651-221-9700
laurelstreetflowers.com

Linden Hills Florist
4300 Upton Ave. S.,
Mpls.
612-922-9303
lindenhillsflorist.com

Lexington Floral
3414 Lexington Ave. N.,
St. Paul
651-483-2786
lexingtonfloral.com

Martha’s Gardens
1593 Selby Ave.,
St. Paul
651-696-2993
marthasfloralstudio.com

New Prague Floral
112 Main St. W.,
New Prague
952-758-4656
newpraguefloral.com

Petalum
St. Louis Park
612-385-1399
petalum.com

Roger Beck
1100 E. Franklin Ave.,
Mpls.
612-871-7080
rogerbeckflorist.com

Renaissance Floral
12750 Nicollet Ave. S., Burnsville
952-224-9446
renfloral.com

Sadie’s Couture Floral
and Event Styling

Mpls.
612-866-1255
sadiesfloral.com

Sassafras Floral
1229 Tyler St. NE, Suite 120, Mpls.
612-423-1899
sassafrasgardens.com

Simply Stated Elegance
9620 Hennepin Town Rd., Eden Prairie
952-484-6412
simplystatedelegance.com

Violet’s Flowers
651-307-7882
violetsevents.com

 

INVITATIONS & STATIONARY

Armato Design & Press
Mpls.
612-387-4844
armatodesign.com

Bethany G Imaging
12851 Harpers St. NE,
Blaine
763-258-3863
bethanygimaging.weebly.com

Dick and Jane Letterpress
2500 University Ave., Suite B8,
St. Paul
651-756-8990
dickandjaneletterpress.com

Epitome Papers
Galleria, Edina
952-920-2978
epitomepapers.com

Invite by Voice
612-216-2016
invitebyvoice.com

Lavish
2140 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul
651-698-3220
shopatlavish.com

Life Long Memories
St. Michael
763-515-3248
freewebs.com/lifelongmemories

Lunalux
1618 Harmon Pl., Mpls.
612-373-0526
lunalux.com

Mara-Mi
201 S. Main St., Stillwater
651-689-1730
mara-mi.com

Molly Irwin Design
Mpls.
651-276-6396
mollyirwin.com

Paper Rock Scissor
Mpls.
612-436-0750
paperrockscissor.com

Paperista
100 W. Franklin Ave.,
Suite 204, Mpls.
612-886-3470
paperista.com

Papyrus
3600 Galleria, Edina
952-920-8766
papyrusonline.com

Perfect Day Wedding Invitations
810 Welter Rd. SE, St. Michael
612-599-6773
perfectdayweddinginvitations
.com

Redshoes 26 Design
redshoes26design.com

Red Stamp
952-405-2270
redstamp.com

Veronica’s Graphics
800-984-3032
veronicasgraphics.com

 

PARTY PLANNERS

Aalon Productions
Mpls.
612-812-2952
aalonevents.com

Aesthetic Events
15344 Wild Turkey Ct.,
Prior Lake
612-715-4453
aesthetic-events.com

Affordable Affairs of Minnesota
Mpls.
612-787-6407
affordableaffairsmn.webs.com

Amy Zaroff Events
7179 Washington Ave. S., Edina
952-941-3371
amyzaroff.com

Anytime Errands
Mpls.
952-334-6978
anytimeerrands.com

BeEvents
Mpls.
612-360-3180
beeventsdesign.com

Bee The Buzz Event
Osseo
763-639-8037
beethebuzzevent.com

Celebrate in Style
Mpls.
612-208-1446
celebrateinstyle.weebly.com

EVE Events
5115 Excelsior Blvd., Suite 130, Mpls.
763-201-8162
eve-nts.com

Event Inspiration
1004 Bayless Ave., St. Paul
612-203-5063
eventinspiration.com

Event Lab
7251 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.
952-224-8558
eventlab.net

Every Little Detail
Mpls.
612-866-5748
eldeventplanning.com

Fabulous Functions
St. Paul
651-307-0368
fabulousfunctions.com

Gallavante
5821 W. Cedar Lake Rd.,
St. Louis Park
651-231-3574
gallavante.com

InsertStyle
Mpls.
651-336-7530
insertstyle.com

Jaclyn Elizabeth Events
St. Paul
651-373-2180
jaclynelizabeth.com

Jigsaw Unlimited
2904 Raleigh Ave., Mpls.
952-926-4411
jigsawunlimited.com

Laura Mullen Event Design
Mpls.
612-789-1205
lauramullenevents.com

Premier Planning Services
Edina
952-922-3859
premierplanningservices.com

The Style Laboratory
Gaviidae Common
555 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.
612-825-4705
stylelaboratory.com

Uncommon Gatherings
Minnetonka
952-470-6300
uncommongatherings.com

Urbane Montage Events
Mpls.
651-206-8624
urbanemontage.com

 

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