It’s In the Details

Jamee Gregory knows how to throw a party! Just follow her time-tested plan.

Photo by Eric Striffler

In New York Parties: Private Views, entertaining expert Jamee Gregory gives us a glimpse of New York City’s most gracious hosts, and suggests how to make your parties equally as unforgettable. You’ll step into the homes of Tory Burch, Campion Platt, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, and Hilary Geary Ross, among others. A well-detailed plan is Gregory’s key to a successful soirée. Step One, the guest list. “You should invite old friends and new, out-of-town friends and—for a little frisson—a beautiful single woman and a handsome single man,” says Gregory. She also likes to call guests instead of sending invitations, and follows up with a beautiful reminder card from her preferred stationer, Dempsey & Carroll.

Step Two, it’s time to call the caterer and discuss the menu, and Gregory often turns to Sean Driscoll at Glorious Food. “It’s important to put together a good team of people,” she insists. “They should have a sense of your entertaining style, the scale of your rooms and how you like to entertain. And be specific about what you want.” Gregory also feels that it doesn’t hurt to be educated in cooking and decorating, so you can speak to the professionals with confidence. She prefers a diverse menu and a “gaspingly beautiful” signature dessert that guests will remember.

Step Three, call the florist, her favorites being Meredith at NYC’s Belle Fleur or Bill Tansey in Long Island City. Gregory gives them her own containers and likes tumbling arrangements on her table. But she admits to making the occasional trip to the flower market to put together her own.

Step Four, two days before the party, inspect your linens, stemware, china and silver to make sure you have enough and that these items are ready to use. You don’t want any last-minute surprises. Being prepared means you’ll be relaxed. Creating the right seating plan is also crucial to your party’s success. Gregory likes to put a guest next to someone he or she doesn’t already know, but she always reviews her plan and makes adjustments.

The night of the party, she gets the music ready and lights a Palais de Thé candle from Manuel Canovas. Gregory insists that one of the host’s most important duties is to introduce guests as they arrive; it puts everyone at ease. She starts the evening with cocktails by 8:00 or 8:15—serving Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial Champagne—and seats guests for dinner by 9:00. The evening winds down with coffee and tea in the living room.

Follow Gregory’s step-by-step plan for entertaining, and guests will soon be clamoring for a seat at your own glamorous table.