The Art of the Party
Thoughtful tips for hosting at home from the best around: Anna Bond, co-founder of Rifle Paper Co.
Re-posted with the kind permission from Paperless Post
Anna Bond knows a thing or two about entertaining. As the co-founder and creative director of Rifle Paper Co., her designs have set the tone for chic celebrations and casual get-togethers since she founded the company with her husband, Nathan, 10 years ago. Those upbeat, colorful illustrations now grace more than just stationery—the blooms punch up shoes, rugs, and just about everything in between (you can even find temporary tattoos).
The floral motifs are clearly contagious, and they also offer a hint as to how Anna likes to party. The Bonds, a family of five, keep things relaxed but refined when they invite friends and family to their Winter Park, Florida, abode. See how they make it special (there are flowers, of course!), and pick up tips for your next party.
Set the scene
Entertaining was top of mind when Anna and Nathan renovated their home. “I designed the kitchen to be warm and inviting because it’s such a focal point of the house,” says Anna. She chose open shelving for a relaxed feel and keeps appliances tucked away behind cabinet doors. The deck outside was planned for larger crowds. “I love sitting outside for dinner to enjoy our view of palm trees and the lake,” she adds.
Their home’s welcoming vibes don’t require anything elaborate to become the backdrop for a special party. For instant ambience, she keeps a stash of supplies on hand, including disposable plates and utensils, tea lights, votives, and assorted vases for arranging flowers.
Get a head start
While Anna and Nathan’s biggest endeavor was a 200-person anniversary party (complete with string lights and a photo booth), most of the time it’s more laid-back. “I don’t feel the need to present an impossible level of perfection,” says Anna. “I cut corners to make life easier wherever possible.” One of her tricks? Prep early and work ahead on more than the menu. “I’ll set the table and do the flowers one or two days before the party,” Anna says. She’ll also take care of fruit platters, charcuterie boards (Nathan usually puts those together), and parts of recipes that will hold up in the fridge until party time.
Go for easy abundance
Anna speaks flowers fluently, and her knack transcends illustrations. To bring Rifle’s signature designs to life, she’ll make a trip to the wholesale flower market, but in a pinch, she plucks palm leaves and other greenery from her backyard.
Grocery store blooms are well in bounds, too. Her advice for making them look freshly foraged: “Stick to one type and pick whatever looks great that day and has the best color,” she says. “Buy as much as possible to create multiple arrangements in various vases.”
Seek out shortcuts
Two smart ways Anna lightens her load: Edit down the drink options and enlist the help of the pros (aka: local restaurant delivery) for the menu. “I avoid cocktails for parties because it’s a lot of ingredients to think about,” she says. Instead, Anna stocks up on Champagne, interesting wines and craft beers. We’ll take it! To boost her home-cooked menu items, she’ll often order in sides and desserts that complement the rest of the offerings. (And her ultimate party trick, in our opinion, is to order everything in and just plate it for friends and family—genius.)
Keep it kid-friendly
With two young children and a newborn, keeping the littlest guests in mind is a no-brainer for Anna. “Before I had kids, I’m sure I did a terrible job of making things kid-friendly,” she admits. But now, she plays it up with fun cups and straws—for kids only—and a big pot of mac and cheese. “You can never go wrong with that,” she says. Yard games invite them to romp around out back, and baby-proofing the house lets parents relax, too.
Ready, set, party
To give herself some wiggle room when guests start flowing in, Anna makes sure that apps and drinks are at the ready when they arrive. “That way, it’s not as stressful if I’m still finishing up with the rest,” she explains. Hopefully, the details come together beautifully, but Anna says “At the end of the day, it is much more about the time spent together and great conversation.”
Warm weather brings plenty of reasons to party. Whether you’re planning a garden party, a housewarming or a shower, find seeds of inspiration in Anna’s charming designs, then let Rifle Paper Co. help you spread the word and kick it off. Pair your invitations with the party goods to match.
Photography: Abby Cox