Hostess with the Mostess

Do thoughts of napkin rings, place settings and cake stands make your palms sweaty? Pour yourself a glass of champagne and’s just a party. If we’ve learned anything about hosting, it’s this: plan ahead and don’t kill your own party vibes (no one likes a stressed out host). Inviting your nearest and dearest into your home and taking on the role of chef-entertainer-bartender-cruise director-character from a Nancy Meyers movie can feel like a lot of pressure, but don’t sweat it...we’ve got a cheat sheet for all things hosty, courtesy of party planner extraordinaire, Royale Ziegler. This creative curator behind But First, Party! captures the whimsy and exuberance of the perfect party in her delightful Instagram. The table is where it all goes down (the eats, the drinks, the explaining to your aunt’s creepy boyfriend why you still don’t have kids yet), so set it up for success with these tips.

So I’m throwing a party with a sit down dinner; what’s the first step? Where does your creative design process start?

Royale: I usually let the partyware or tabletop I‘m using inform the design for the event. A lot of what I do is very colorful and playful, so it is fun to incorporate paper party goods that have cute illustrations and then translate that into the sweets, etc. Who doesn't love a sugar cookie that matches a plate? For adult occasions, flowers are also super important to the aesthetic, so I spend a lot of time gathering inspiration images to share with my florist.

What are the must-haves for a hostess trying to achieve a Pinterest-worthy tablescape on a budget?

Royale: I wholeheartedly think that flowers can make or break a tablescape, they can really elevate the look of an event and bring a splash of color and a fresh and natural scent. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to set a nice table, there are a lot of great tossware options on the market right now, like the single-use tableware collections from L'entramise or the new collection from Sugar Paper at Target . The disposable glassware from Sugar and Cloth on Amazon is really great too!

What would you be happy to NEVER see used as table decor again (mason jar glasses, I’m looking at you!)

Royale: Sequin, polyester or plastic table coverings really make my skin crawl. Instead, try using fun gift wrap or paper table runners like these from Minted if you're looking for an affordable option. I am also SO OVER unicorn-themed parties, please stop believing.

We predict 2019 will be the year of the narwhal. Unicorns, you’ve had your day in the sun! Moving on, what little touches do your clients go bonkers for?

Royale: FLOWERS and of course balloons. Sweets are also an opportunity to add custom touches to an event that are relatively inexpensive.

Where are some of your favorite places to find table treasures?

Royale: My best friend happens to own the BEST party and entertaining store ever, Bonjour Fete! So a lot of my shopping happens there--maybe too much shopping! I also love the selection of rentable tabletop that Casa de Perrin and Borrowed Blu offer. La Tavola and The Hostess Haven for rented linens! If I am buying table decor that is not disposable or rented, my go-to's are Anthropologie and World Market.

Let’s talk what’s worth buying and what’s worth renting?

Royale: Having nice flatware is important, as is a selection of pretty glassware. My advice is to focus on buying items that are modern, but also classic in the sense that you can use them over and over again without your table feeling dated. I like to rent plates and linens because you can be a bit more trend or season-forward without having to commit.

Thanks so much for the tablescape tips, Royale! You’ve inspired us to channel our inner Martha and find the strength we had all along to survive the holiday party season.

Royale Ziegler’s work has been featured on Martha Stewart, Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake-let, and Inspired By This. To see more of her inspired events, visit her lovely website.


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