Johansson thinks lighting is the most important part of décor, and what most people underestimate. “Some of my clients think I’m crazy spending over 50 percent of a design budget, but it really makes a difference.” At home, get a couple of cheap spotlights at IKEA and cover them with heat-resistant colored film. Then point the lights at a few key areas, like the bar, tabletop, or flower arrangement. Kill the overhead lights, and then add a touch of pink — it makes everyone look 10 years younger.
It’s her hands-down favorite bar solution. “Simply mix up the punch beforehand and then set it out before guests arrive. Guests can serve themselves all night long, and it also works as a bit of a social hub.” To upgrade your punchbowl, Johansson suggests freezing edible flowers in a block of ice using Tupperware.
“No one is going to look under your sofa for dust bunnies,” says Johansson, so save the cleaning for later.” Wipe down surfaces with Windex, and be sure to scrub the bathroom. “It’s the only room you have to worry about — each guest will visit at least once, so leave some flowers, mints, lotion, and a candle.”
“I love switching off the iPod and putting on a couple of my favorite old records for my guests.” It’s something unexpected that guests always love.
So many hosts get caught up worrying about making everything perfect and end up in the kitchen all night. “I try to make food that I can prep about 80 percent beforehand and finish at the last minute, so I can have fun, too.”
Between the food and drinks, a fridge fills up fast. Sure, a cooler works, but Johansson prefers the washing machine. “I put all my cold alcohols in, and then pour ice over it about 30 minutes before guests arrive. Beverages are cold, and the ice melts right into the drain!”
No one looks forward to a mountain of dishes post dinner party. This is a bit of a splurge, but I like renting plates and glasses, especially if you’re having a larger party. Set up an area where dishes can be rinsed away from the kitchen, stack them in their boxes, and you can skip out on doing dishes.
Always put up all decorations and set the table or buffet the night before so you have plenty of time to rearrange things without being crunched for time, and can pick up anything that might be missing.