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How to throw a brilliant dinner party

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fiona leahy - star

Ever wondered how you could add a little excitement to your dinner parties?

It’s too easy to do the same thing every time. I’m the worst offender for this. I start out with big ideas, and then through the week they shrivel along with my energy levels, cooking ability and bank balance.

But I’m not one to be beaten, so I’ve roped in some high level advice.

Who?’ I hear you cry. Only Fiona Leahy, the woman behind Dita von Teese’s incredible wedding to Marilyn Manson! (see photo above). Only the woman who masterminded Nat Rothschild’s 40th birthday celebrations in Montenegro!  Only the woman who creates the vision for the Elle Style Awards year after year! (see photo below)

The Leahy touch at The Elle Style Awards 2012

I interviewed her the other week for the brilliant online interiors magazine Curio (the new issue just out here) and she gasped in wonder when I told her that, as a favour, I’d let her onto the hallowed pages of Muddy Stilettos. Or, um, something like that.

So here we go, Fiona Leahy’s advice on how to throw a really great dinner party (see Dita’s below!), without breaking the bank.

fiona leahy wedding

I used to have massive anxiety when I threw a party. I’d see an amazing Swedish home in a magazine and think, oh God, mine looks nothing like that. I’d hate to think I add to that anxiety by my own job now. Convey your personality, and use things you like rather what you think you should like. But be daring. Maybe it’s a load of trophies – put them on the table and fill them with flowers. Scatter marbles on the table, or paperweights, whatever you like.

TWO:Try and do something personal for the guests. Handwrite your guests’ names with fabric pen on a piece of ribbon and tie around a napkin, or use Scrabble names. Things that make it slightly personal.

I know it sounds predictable but truly, tea lights and candles make a difference.

I always use loads of flowers (see below), but you don’t have to spend a fortune on table settings. You can pick up little cut crystal flower holders from car boot sales, or even use cascading grapes. I’ve used them before and they look great.

Flowers in Leahy's home

Be daring with the table cloth. I threw a party using an African fabric that I bought off the roadside. It looked really graphic and amazing. Or use leopard skin or stripe, something that’s really striking but will only cost you a few pounds.

Do one thing and do a lot of it. I’m a maximalist – I figure if you’re not really going for it, there’s not much point really! I’m always the person adding the extra tea lighter at a party, and I like things in large groups, whether it’s balloons, flowers, vases, whatever. I used walls of balloons at the Elle Style Awards in 2012 and they looked great.

Make a big deal out of one thing. I’m having a party at my flat this weekend and I’m hiring a bartender to make a brilliant cocktail. Oh, and a piano so that we listen to keyboard versions of Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake over dinner.

Have fun. When I turned 40, I called my party my Midas Life crisis and turned the whole venue gold! That was a great night.

Consider involving others. I love doing a table cloth out of brown parcel paper so people can doodle on it. Or get your kids to do an illustrated table cloth, just their doodlings. It’s about being authentic and who you are. Do that and you can’t go wrong.


Find more ideas here


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