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If a party happens and nobody puts it on Instagram, did it really happen? It’s a slightly depressing rhetorical question, but these days, if you’re unable to attend your friend’s birthday party or that colleague’s housewarming, odds are you can get a front-row seat to the festivities on Snapchat or Instagram Stories. And if you’re going to go through the trouble of plating a stunning meal, setting a special table, and decorating your house, you might as well get some likes out of it, too.
Planning for a ‘gram-worthy party isn’t just about the host’s gratification either. Your guests probably want to tout that they’re at a dinner party that has an actual champagne tower or share how cool it is that their pomegranate martini matches the bouquet of red lip helium balloons cleverly placed next to the bar.
Unless you’re deliberately going for a tech-free gathering (a fantastic idea!) the phones are inevitably going to be out. So make the most of it! Here, David Stark, event planner extraordinaire, shares his tips to making your next party live on in Instagram lore:
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
Whether for photos or simply for the experience, I would rather do a few things really, really well instead of spreading décor dollars super thin on little moments everywhere. It’s definitely a common mistake to do that. Whether it’s one giant spray of flowering branches at an entryway or a special furniture vignette that speaks to an event theme, focus on a couple of high impact statements.
Pay Attention to How You Plate
Setting a buffet or serving a plated meal is like fashion. There are times when shorts and a t-shirt are appropriate (an informal backyard BBQ with disposable tableware). Other times, it’s a dressier affair (an elegant Thanksgiving feast with your finest china). Like getting dressed, the food you’re serving is the main outfit, and the china, glassware, serving platters are the accessories. Mix and match to create the most chic and appropriate table “outfit” that suits your tastes. When you give this kind of thought to the food and how you serve it, you will create visual harmony that will inspire your guests to snap away.
Don’t Default to a Photo Booth
This depends on the party and the occasion. If you’re hosting an Oscar’s viewing party at home, having a tongue and cheek “red carpet” and backdrop as a stylistic nod to the festivities is cheeky, but for any random Saturday night dinner party at home with friends, that might feel a tad contrived. A floral wall as a backdrop for a wedding rehearsal dinner might feel appropriate in certain settings, but at home, it’s probably downright silly. Think about your occasion and whether it calls for a grander statement or something more low-key, and let that guide your staging.
Lighting is Important, Photos or Not
I believe creating a flattering candlelit glow is an important part of the party experience. It’s not great for photos, but smartphones allow us to capture that ambiance nicely, so no need to pump up the lights.
Your Dinner Party Doesn’t Need a Hashtag
It’s one thing to provide hashtag signage at a big public event or even list it on a website that includes the details for a destination wedding, but sprinkling your home with hashtag signage to promote posting at a personal dinner or cocktail party is almost never necessary.
What are your tips for a 'gram-worthy party? Share them in the comments.