Lara Shriftman has given lots and lots of parties. That's her biz.
The luxury, fashion and lifestyle expert,who co-founded PR firm Harrison & Shriftman in 1995, even wrote four books about her favorite topic. We asked the part-time Miami resident her advice on how to throw a fabulous summer send-off:
Location: "A daytime soiree should be at a warm outdoors location -- the pool, garden or beach. Nothing says summertime better than a BBQ in the sun."
Guest list: "It's not surprising to have friends ‘casually stop by' without having RSVP'd. So always accommodate more
than the number you had in mind." That said: "The summertime is a very popular time for families to travel on vacation, so
it's a good idea to over-invite."
Length: "If you want to make it an all-day event, specify just a start time. If you only want it to last for a couple hours,
include an end time in bold letters."
Decor: "Give that kitchen chair or living room couch a makeover by draping it in white sheets or a playful fabric like terry
cloth. Create the ultimate lounge space by bringing out a bed and loading it up with pillows."
Get comfy: "Use patterned rugs or large bath mats to lay out a soft foundation for sitting on the ground. Prop fluffy pillows
throughout the space. Create tight groupings so people can meet."
Music: "Match your playlist with the mood. In a steamy setting, it's important to have upbeat music, but keep the tunes at a
volume that allows the guests to talk without yelling."
Expense: "If you want to save time, and don't mind spending the extra money, hire a caterer. You'll be able to socialize and
enjoy your party without having to attend to the details."
Noshes: "Serve bite-size finger food, so that you guests won't have to fuss with utensils and plates." Ideas -- pigs in a blan-
ket, sliders, paninis, sandwiches cut up into bite size pieces and mini cupcakes.
Drinks: Always provide a signature cocktail. "Make this way ahead of time. My suggestion is a variation on the gimlet [gin
and lime juice]. But always have something for people who don't drink. I love the Beverly Hills Hotel's Classic Arnold Palmer -- half iced tea and half lemonade."
Party favor: "Snap fun Polaroids of your guests as they enter."
Bonus: Don't stress too much on the details. "It's often the simplest parties that are the most memorable."