The Party Planning Guide
Parties are best when they can actually be enjoyed: Whether it’s a kids birthday, a landmark anniversary, or a wedding, there’s no reason it has to involve blood, sweat, and a fat rolodex. Here, a comprehensive list of trusted vendors for everything from vintage tableware rentals to organic-only catering to gourmet cotton candy carts. And if all else fails, a slew of skilled event planners.
Elan Artists| 888.800.3526
It's thanks to Elan Artists that we were lucky enough to have the accordion-wielding Carte Blanche Band perform at our recent Net-a-Porter dinner. Their roster of entertainers is as deep as it is broad, with acts that run the gamut from cabaret-style burlesque dancers to string quartets to a Jersey Boys tribute band.
Roaming Hunger Food Trucks
This is an invaluable, freakishly user-friendly food truck tracking and booking tool that services the bulk of major U.S. cities. If you're in SoCal, consider Dogtown Dogs, Kogi Truck, and Urban Oven—we've had great experiences with all three. (More food truck inspo, here)
Minted came up with a fool-proof system for making sure clients get exactly what they want—and it all starts with a rich assortment of save-the-dates, menu cards, invites and so much more, all pre-designed by an artist. (They also do fully custom stationery and invites.) Once you've picked something you like, you can tweak it to perfection. And don't skip over the Art Marketplace, it's hands down one of the best places online for affordable art.
Anne Robin Calligraphy917.863.0899
Anne Robin has been doing calligraphy for most of her life, and it shows. She'll gladly churn out traditional scripts, be it for invitations, place cards, or monograms, but her true talent lies in designing unique, modern styles you won't find anywhere else.
This online service essentially functions as a virtual party planner (or a search engine for handymen, tutors, accountants, etc.). You submit a request for say, a Washington-based magician, and wait for available pros to respond with quotes and details. Once you're ready to pull the trigger, you can book directly through the site or app.
Whether it’s a wedding, luncheon, anniversary, or kid’s birthday, this is a truly priceless resource if you’re looking to host somewhere other than at home.
These are not your average party-store fare. Geronimo mastermind Jihan Zencirli’s creations come in a rainbow of balloon-and-frill combos and are so massive they require as much helium as 30 standard balloons. She'll gladly accommodate special requests if you don't see what you want in her online shop.
Fire and Creme
For kiddie birthdays, Venice Beach-based Fire and Creme’s party boxes are nothing short of life changing. Choose from tableware, decoration, and goodie bag boxes (or just pick up all three and save yourself a headache), all of which fit a certain theme—Cowboy Wanted, Gone Surfing, and Party Like a Gypsy are standouts. For extra brownie points with the littles, check out the dress-up section.
Disposable party supplies are meant to make life easier, but more often than not, finding ones that aren't hideous is hard. Elliewood's themed Party Packs (which can accommodate up to 40 guests) and Parties-in-a-Box aren't just beautiful, they're practical, too: every element from cups, to plates, to decorative accessories is accounted for. For procrastinators, there’s a two-day shipping option.
Scott Coppersmith Designs
Pictures don’t really do Scott's marquees justice: Most are made from up-cycled materials and can be shipped everywhere. Not only does he have pre-made and rentable options, he’ll custom build logos, lettering, signage, and more.
Sure, photo booths have become regular party staples, but these guys figured out a way to elevate the experience by way of bigger, glossier formats, GIF-making capabilities, blacklight booths, and custom backgrounds and props. Headquarters are in NYC but they can easily accommodate more far-flung locations.
This is a one stop shop for browsing and booking all sorts of live entertainers—from musicians to DJs to toastmasters. What's more, they provide client reviews and sample contracts to simply the process.
Classic Party Rentals
With warehouses all over the country, Classic is a no-frills—but consistently reliable—rental resource that specializes in the basics: tables, chairs, tents, lighting, and linens. They've been at it for 30 years, so their customer-service game is on point.
We love Paperless Post. So much so, that we collaborated on a bunch of limited edition cards a few years back. Since then, they've teamed up with the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Kelly Wearstler, and goop pal, Derek Blasberg on tons of digital and physical invitations (many free options, too!). They also do brisk business with birthday cards and personal stationery.
Founded by a bridal magazine editor who brought a big fat Rolodex, The Bridal Bar is like a virtual concierge for wedding planning specializing in the Los Angeles and San Diego Areas. They vet vendors in every category, going way beyond photographers and wedding planners—you can come to them for bachelorette party suggestions, honeymoon ideas, and cinematographers. The best part? It's completely free. Photo credit: Docuvitae