I Like You, And Other Hospitality Issues

Todd Oldham's tips on designing a party space.


Welcome back. This week's challenge tasked the designers to create a party design that would blend the elegance of its host, Elle Decor magazine and celebrate Bacardi Limon.

Designing a great atmosphere for a party is certainly an important part of a gathering's success. The six remaining designers gave it there all within a time frame that for once is close to real life. Parties have to pop-up and disassemble often just as fast, so a stealth design and plan is in order.

A good approach to designing a party space is to define a few bold moves and maximize them. I loved Goil's strung lemon chains. A new way to use an everyday material. Also I was so impressed with his makeshift threading system of a bent nail and some white twine.


The addition of mirrors was a great idea. It was a surprise and it visually expands the space making it seem more active. Decorating a tent is always an obstacle. It is very expensive to erect a tent and no matter what you do, it still looks like a tent. So much of a budget can be eaten up by trying to camouflage the tent so it is often a good idea and more efficient to try to find a preexisting space instead.

But no matter how great a party space looks, if the most important ingredient -- great hospitality -- is missing you will not have a successful party. Bothering to bother is the first step in making your guests feel right at home and I know no better example of this than Amy Sedaris, author of the essential guide to entertaining: I Like You: Entertaining Under the Influence.


Clocking in at over 300 pages, I Like You covers every aspect of a successful event for big groups or just one. Amy is so perfectly qualified to write a hospitality book, as she is a lovely host.

Often when visiting Amy you are greeted with a coffeecake fresh out of the oven or a tray of the best cupcakes, delicious despite the suspicious kitchen situation. She always has the perfect beverage selection including things I like that I know she doesn't. A visit is always punctuated by an appearance from her roommate, Dusty, a Mini Rex rabbit. If you're really lucky she will do a little dance for you. Dusty, not Amy.

The recipes are all sincere and delicious despite what Billy Erb and Mark Ibold's geniusly fantastic photos sometimes suggest. Try the SPA-GETTI, it's a crowd pleaser and easy.


Some of my favorite parts of I Like You are its helpful tips. Whether entertaining a rich uncle [PG 59], children [PG 99], or maybe you just need a few ideas for crafts using pantyhose; this book is your new encyclopedia. Be sure to check out the smart craft section with its myriad of choices for the modestly gifted. No one is left unwelcome in this special book. I should probably say at this point that I took most of the portraits of Amy that appear in the book, but I swear that even if I hadn't worked on it I would still love it as much as I do. Amy commissioned well over a thousand pieces of original art for the book; she handpicked the illustrators [the astonishing Hillary Moore], photographers, calligraphers [artist Ellen Berkinblit] and many slaves to execute her pure singular vision. Books this special appear very seldom so pick up I Like You and make the world a more hospitable place.

Party on, Todd

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