I got to sit down with fabulous friend Carla McDonald, founder of The Salonniere, to discuss how to “Luluize” your party from the very start. Check out her article on The Salonniere.
Hi-de-ho, babycakes. Come on in and meet my fabulous friend, Lulu, also known as “The Entertainologist.” In addition to being one of the country’s most inventive celebrity chefs and event designers – her clients have included luminaries from Madonna and Herb Ritts to US presidents - she’s the best-selling author of Lulu Powers: From Food to Flowers, a beautiful, comprehensive and completely accessible party-planning guide. Trust me, this L.A. lady’s natural beauty, colorful personality and bohemian flair are as intoxicating as her “sneekies,” Lulu’s pet name for giggle water. Go ahead, doll, grab your sneeky and join the fun. Lulu’s spilling the beans about how to cook up a fresh, fun and fanciful fete and you’re not going to want to miss one delicious morsel.
About how many events do you plan per year? 100
What’s the last party you planned? An al fresco dinner party for 70 people hosted by Catharine and Jeffery Soros to thank the donors of the LA Dance Project. We designed a gorgeous dinner using Katherine’s own china and down-home burlap tablecloths that she wanted to incorporate.
Lulu with clients, Catharine and Jeffery Soros
What party are you planning now? A cocktail party at producer Shelley Litvack’s Malibu beach house to raise funds for the local Boys and Girls Club. We’ll be doing mini versions of fun, summer foods like lobster rolls. But, honestly, I won’t finalize the menu until that morning when I see what looks fresh and tasty at the Malibu Farmers Market. Let’s go from food to flowers. What your best tip for… Food: Always use fresh. Cocktails: Learn how to make at least one good classic cocktail that you can serve all the time. Champagne: Serve Schramsberg Vineyards champagne – it’s what they serve at the White House – or the Brut Rosé from Domaine Carneros. It’s delicious and well-priced. Wine: You can get a deal if you buy a case. Also, your wine guy will deliver it to you cold if you ask. Music: Always have music on – jazz for cocktails and something more upbeat for later on. Décor: Put candles everywhere. Powder rooms: Always light a candle and have plenty of guest towels. Invitations: Pick up the phone and invite people over at the last minute. Impromptu dinner parties are fun. Flowers: Two bunches of the same colored flowers can go a long way. What makes a party great? At the end of the day, it’s the people. You can spend a fortune and do the most creative things but, if the people are boring, it’s not going to be fun. If you need to hire people to come to your party and dance all night to keep the energy level up, do it.
Lulu’s L.A. book exchange hosted by television news journalist, Lisa McCree
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to? I’ve been to my share of fun parties but, in the last year, it has to be my friend Gwen’s birthday party last November. It was just good ole girl fun with foot massages at the end of the night, which really helped after I was ripping up the dance floor. The bar cart filled with caviar was pretty great, too. And my sneeky glass was never empty. Need I say more?
When should someone hire a caterer versus doing a party themselves? Hey, if you can afford to hire a caterer, do it. Hosts should spend their time enjoying their own party and taking care of their guests instead of worrying about the details.
What makes a client great? When they trust me and let me be completely creative. That’s one of the reasons I love working with Jouer Cosmetics owner, Christina Zilber, so much. She hires me and then says, “Just figure it out.”
If your client gave you $100 to spend on party décor, what would you buy? I’d buy as many candles and balloons as I could. They’re inexpensive and add so much.
What are your party musts? My staff has to dress meticulously (that means no cat hair on your pants) and arrive with a smile and a good attitude. I send sour-pusses home on the spot. Guests must be offered a drink as soon as they walk in since people feel most comfortable when they have something in their hand, dirty glasses and scrunched napkins have to be cleaned up as soon as they’re set down and the answer to every request must be “yes.” We can figure out the how later.
What’s the best way to deal with a difficult or over-served guest? Tell whomever they came with that you think it’s time to get their friend home. Then call a cab and send them out the door with a bottle of Gatorade and some cookies. How much should a client tip their caterer? Twenty percent, although some tip more. And never underestimate the value of a sincere thank you. How do you stay party ready; what’s always in your fridge or pantry? Pellegrino, wine, Prosecco, champagne, a big hunk of parmesan, potato chips, olives and nuts. Also, I always have three pretty bowls ready to be filled with the nibbles and set out.
Lulu’s bar in her L.A. home, which features a green hat and shaker that belonged to her dad
What’s your current favorite sneeky?
I put some ice in a ball jar, add vodka, fresh mint and basil, which I smash up to let out the essence, and add two tablespoons of limeade and the juices of one fresh lemon and one fresh lime. If I have fresh strawberries, I’ll chop up two or three and throw them in. Then I put the top on the ball jar and shake, shake, shake. So fresh and delicious for summer.
Lulu’s favorite summertime sneeky
What celebrity would you most like to work with?
Filmmaker Tyler Perry. Ever since I saw a story about him on “60 Minutes,” I’ve been a huge fan. He’s completely inspiring and crazy creative. I’d love to collaborate with him. I love his story and I told him so when I met him. I like working with people who inspire me.
Finish this sentence: you know it’s a Lulu Powers party when…
You get a sneeky passed to you as you’re coming in the door, the food is scrumptious and the staff is stellar.