Expert Tips for a Great Party

Celebrity event planner Jes Gordon's advice for creating memorable get-togethers

DIFFA table

When it comes to hosting a great party, party-planner-to-the-stars Jes Gordon knows exactly what is needed. Her work has taken her from the set of films like Dead Man Walking to coordinating events and décor at Tavern on the Green in New York City. She has a book, Party Like A Rock Star, and regularly produces events for stars like Madonna, Sting, and Harrison Ford though her own event planning and production firm. Most recently, however, Gordon can be found on Bravo’s Rocco’s Dinner Party, where she helps the competing chefs bring their vision for a memorable dinner gathering to fruition.


The Key to a Great Party? Sensory Appeal

According to Gordon, a great party is one that covers all five senses: taste, touch, sound, scent, and sight. “People get bored so quickly,” Gordon explains. “They have short attentions spans, especially when it comes to entertaining, so it’s important to keep your party stimulating in many ways.” Gordon creates an entire experience, starting with taste — the food — and adds something appealing to touch, like nice textures and fabrics, when setting the table. She then adds an audible component, like music or entertainment, and something visual, like flowers, proper lighting, and any additional décor relevant to the theme. She completes the sensory experience with subtle scents. At the table and in the kitchen, let your food do that for you, then add scented candles in places like the powder room or front hall. The experience alone should get your guests talking — and if that doesn’t work, add a novelty item like a custom specialty cocktail or an interactive beverage or candy bar to your menu. When two guests begin to compare notes on what they deem as the perfect pizza, the conversation is sure to continue all night.


Enjoy the Planning Process

Now if creating a complete sensory experience at your next dinner party makes you want to go climb back in bed, don’t stop reading now! “Remember that this isn’t the one and only party you will throw in a lifetime,” Gordon urges, nor are you being judged on its success. “Make the first time simple and look forward to moving onto another party in the near future to keep evolving as a host,” she adds. It’s important to not sweat the small stuff, but to keep things in perspective. “You aren’t planning a funeral here — you are planning a party,” Gordon cautions. It’s supposed to be enjoyable not a migraine-inducing nightmare.