Confessions of a Celebrity Event Planner

Linnea Johansson talks trends, celebrities, and her favorite bashes
Staff Writer
Take a cue from the event planner pro, Linnea Johansson.

No one parties like a celebrity, that’s for sure. The photos and recaps of all the parties and dinners that stars attend are enough to make any party lover drool. But don't kid yourself — most celebrities aren't checking off to-do lists and buying party decorations themselves; every aspect of these events — the wardrobe, the décor, the menu — is carefully brought to life by A-list professionals for their celebrity clients. 

Linnea Johansson just happens to be one of those A-list professionals. As a celebrated New York City party planner, she has curated the bashes of such famous faces as Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, Donald Trump, and Martha Stewart. Given her weighty resume, it’s safe to say she’s an expert in the art of throwing of an amazing soirée. 

In the second edition of her book, Perfect Parties, Johansson has revealed a few of her favorite trends, many outlandish celebrity requests, and what’s to come for 2013. If you’re looking for a true peek into successful party hosting, look no further. 

Here’s what Johansson had to say about her party planning experiences:

What are some of the most popular menu requests?
Meatballs of all origins, from Italian to Turkish, and of course my signature, Swedish, have been popular lately.
Pretzels and spaetzle along with bratwursts and mustards — basically all things German.
Jungle foods, which are basically coming out of Peruvian rain forest
Pano, a type of Indian filled crepe
Foraged foods and foods with flavors from the woods, like sea buckthorn, bog butter, and sorrel
Homemade condiments, like homemade hot sauce, bitters, chutneys, ketchups, etc.

What are some trending signature drinks?
Shaken cocktails are out and stronger stirred drinks are in — drinks like Negronis or Sazeracs are on menus for the fall
Hand-shaven ice blocks, to make boozy snow cones and frappes
Barrel-aged cocktails or cocktails on tap, such as the classic '30s blood and sand cocktail
• Drinks with vinegar 

What was your most outlandish celebrity request?
Well, celebrity "riders" (which are basically long lists that detail what the person would like) always have some funny tidbits. In all honestly, though, they don’t always write them themselves, but I have gotten some ridiculously long 10-plus-page riders. Not to name any names, but I once got one from a hip-hop star which even had specifics of what type of toilet paper he preferred.

Without regards to budget, what kind of party would you plan?
That’s a hard one, but since I am Swedish, I think the Nobel party at the Swedish Royal Castle might need a bit of a sprucing up, so I would love to give it a go.

Do you have any advice for couples planning a wedding who can't afford an event planner? 

If you are skipping on the wedding planner, then either go with a venue such as a restaurant that has a person on hand and knows what works in the space, or put money into a top-notch catering company and try to ordering as much as possible from them, as they will assign you a catering coordinator and you will get a bit of help with all the details. 

What's your favorite celebrity event that you've thrown?
A few years ago I got to do the Coco Chanel anniversary in her apartment. It was one amazing event to get to throw in a very special venue filled to the brim with the art and design elite.

Are there certain themes trending in the events world?
Events are getting more and more personal and genuine, which is quite nice as it was getting a bit over the top. This is of course due to both the recession and growing hipster trends. We are seeing a lot of personal things like specialty "I-do brews" for weddings, lots of people are asking for food trucks at events,and for 2013 we are seeing more and more booking at city rooftop farms, complete with a meal grown on that very same rooftop, of course.


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