Lifestyle expert Lauren Conrad knows a thing or two about throwing a successful outdoor event.
Celebrated reality star, bona fide entrepreneur and entertaining expert Lauren Conrad dishes on how to throw the outdoor bash of your dreams.
Land a reality show gig when you’re in high school and life can lead you in many directions. For L.A. native Lauren Conrad, her ambitious beginnings starring in MTV’s megahits Laguna Beach and The Hills are a mere footnote to the admirable career she’s since crafted for herself. Now an accomplished fashion designer, bestselling author and overall lifestyle pundit (one look at the star’s pastel-happy Instagram and it’s clear she has an eye for all things beautiful), Lauren knows hard work – and, above all, how to commemorate such achievements. In conjunction with the release of her new entertaining book, Celebrate, we caught up with L.C. for advice on throwing a celeb-worthy outdoor soiree with elegance and ease.
The Guest List
Further validating her status as a seasoned party host, Lauren explains that the perfect number of guests hinges on the amount of time you’d like to spend talking to each person and making sure you’re realistically able to do so. “Hosting an intimate gathering isn’t just about saying hello to everyone – it’s about taking the time to have a conversation,” she says.
Believe it: Fashioning a show-stopping scheme for an alfresco affair can be easy and affordable. “If you have an outdoor location that’s really beautiful, you don’t have to do a lot in terms of decor,” says the designer, pointing to a dinner party tablescape she created, where a few strands of string lights, along with a row of vintage glass bottles spilling with cheerful flowers, were all it took to make the backyard setting shine. “If you need to cut the budget further, you could decorate with just greenery,” she says.
An Intimate Setting
“One of the nice things about having a small outdoor space is that it doesn’t take a lot to decorate it,” says Lauren, adding that a few floral arrangements are often all you need to lend a tiny yard an enchanting atmosphere.
“If you have a large backyard, you can host 25 people and the space might still feel empty,” she says. “But if that same group were on a smaller rooftop, it would feel like a full party.”
A much debated topic in the realm of entertaining, surprise parties don’t sit well with some, including this lifestyle expert. “When party planning, it’s about following the do-unto-others rule,” says Lauren. “I don’t like people shouting at me. I’m anti surprise.”
Having grown up in L.A., Lauren is no stranger to fussy diets. “Half the people here won’t eat gluten,” she says with a laugh. On that note, the star suggests keeping the most common food preferences in mind when planning a menu but not going overboard. “I have a few friends who have crazy dietary restrictions, but they’ll typically enter an event knowing they might not be able to eat everything, and I think they’re used to that.” The Cali native is also quick to add that when there’s a guest of honour, the fare should always cater to his or her tastes.
“I love outdoor parties that revolve around a meal,” says Lauren. “There’s something so relaxing about eating outside.” Whether you’re hosting a cozy Moroccan-style brunch or a casual beach-inspired bash, the crafty celeb recommends serving small bites that don’t need to be cut (we can’t get enough of the rainbow-bright sorbet bar shown below, for which Lauren created serving bowls by hollowing out tropical fruits).
“If you’re not having a formal sit-down dinner, it’s nice to offer food that can be enjoyed while standing,” she says. Lauren also suggests jazzing up classic spreads like charcuterie boards and cheese platters with fresh herbs and edible flowers.
Drink of Choice
L.C. prefers serving cocktail creations – be it mojitos, margaritas or sangria – out of a large pitcher. “You can make a big batch so you’re not constantly running to the kitchen,” she says. “It’s also nice to have a large glass drink dispenser or colourful pitcher so people are able to serve themselves. It’s no fuss.”
Left to Right:
1 Lauren’s Instagram (@laurenconrad) is dotted with elegant decor ideas, such as this gold-accented vintage place setting from her bridal shower.
2 Count on this design-savvy host to create the classiest of champagne towers, as seen on her Instagram. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate just about any occasion.
3 With nothing more than a cardboard box, colourful tissue paper, scissors and glue, Lauren constructed a house-shaped pinata for her housewarming party.
For more of Lauren Conrad's entertaining tips, check out Celebrate (Dey Street Books, $34).