What Happens When a Party Thrower Collaborates with an Interior Designer on a Teen Bash
A night to remember.
Allison Ross and Jason Chauncey originally planned to do a small gathering for their son Judah’s bar mitzvah, followed by a family trip to Israel. But when COVID made that difficult, the family decided to throw a dinner party for him at their Sherman Oaks home. This couldn’t be just your average bar mitzvah, though. Allison wanted Judah, whom she describes as “effortlessly cool,” to remember this party for the rest of his life.
Above right: Allison and son Judah
“We wanted this to be more aspirational, with an elevated food palette and aesthetic that hit you over the head the moment you walked in. We wanted drinks to be flowing, music on, and the design elements to be seen from every vantage point,” shares Allison.
The party’s design theme emanated out of the focal point of the family’s property: a striking mature oak tree in the backyard. Allison envisioned a “partyscape” created around the tree, and she hired caterer and “party maker” Annie Campbell to help pull it off.
“Allison had a strong vision for the lighting: twinkle lights in the trees and hanging rattan lanterns in the kids tent and around the dinner tables. She also wanted low lounge seating for the kids, layered bohemian rugs and a beautiful tablescape. Overall, she imagined a chic evening that represented her son’s sensibilities,” says Annie.
Ferns on the dinner tables created verdant runners. The rattan chargers, moss dinner plates and flatware were rented from Casa de Perrin. The Mylo glassware was rented from Bright.
When it came to decor, Allison’s sensibilities as an interior designer came into play. “The homes I design have an eclectic mix of old and new furniture and art, so I immediately knew I wanted to work with Found Rentals, which shares a similar aesthetic. I picked the rental furniture and decor and turned my inspiration photos over to Annie. She and her team then created an amazing presentation deck including all the other elements, from plates and glasses to a fireside s’mores station,” says Allison.
Forty adults and 20 kids attended the party. During dinner, there were separate menus and seating areas for both groups. While the adults were served beef short ribs, cedar planked salmon, rosemary polenta and a cauliflower tagine, the kids enjoyed more casual fare. The buffet was based on Judah’s favorite foods: poke, coconut shrimp, dumplings, grilled steak, five-cheese mac ’n’ cheese, Caesar salad and french fries.
The principal entertainment was a newer concept called a silent disco. “Kids like because they can listen to different playlists at the same time. They use headphones that light up with LED lights,” explains Annie. A DJ presided over another playlist that catered to adults. A pergola, strung with twinkling lights, served as the dance floor.
For Allison and her family, the party was momentous. “It was breathtaking, truly. Aesthetics aside, the tradition of becoming a bar mitzvah, surrounded by your family and friends, was special. In a time of constant technology, and not a lot of face time, to be able to stop and celebrate life for just a moment, to celebrate our son, was everything. There was joy and music, and on that one night we knew how lucky we were to have each other. This beautiful tradition is what brought us together.”
- GET AN IDEAL SPACE
Choose a venue that allows the kids to be independent and have their own area. It’s important to create a kid zone with enough space to move around. Teens are active at a party!
- KEEP IT SIMPLE
It can be easy to go overboard on a kids party. It’s not necessary to have a million games and activities. It’s more important to have one or two great activities with thoughtful touches. Think quality over quantity.
- PLAN WITH THE GUEST OF HONOR IN MIND
Make sure that the celebrated teen’s interests are incorporated into the decor and overall vibe of the party. Honoring their authenticity is a way to make them feel special.
- FOCUS ON FOOD FAVORITES
Include the teen’s favorites on the menu. Comfort foods are always a crowd pleaser. For example, the mac ’n’ cheese and french fries were a hit at this particular party.
- DO CASUAL SEATING
Create an informal seating area for teen dining. Kids typically prefer lounge seating and a buffet over a seated dinner, as they don’t like to stick to one spot.
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