Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Think Creatively for Event Success

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Think Creatively for Event Success

Article excerpt

Byline: Ivette Yee, Times-Union staff writer

Party and event planning goddess Brett Galley is accustomed to throwing splendid soirees for royalty -- Hollywood royalty that is. Her clients include such high-profile celebrities as Bette Midler, Diana Ross and Kathie Lee Gifford. (We're sure they're picky, too).

With offices in New York City, Greenwich, Conn., Los Angeles and Miami, Galley's company, Hollywood Pop Gallery Event Planners, has created some of the most original and classy celebrations for nearly every occasion. From her New York office, Galley shared pointers on how to plan a party fit for a king, but without spending a royal fortune.

1. Think big, but set a budget.

One of the first questions Galley asks her clients is how much they want to spend. She said defining your party budget is the first step in organizing what kind of celebration you want to have.

"When it comes to party planning, it depends on how far you want to go," Galley said. "That's really what sets the tone. It determines whether you want to go crazy, really, really do it up, or if you are on a limited budget, then you just have to be clever. There are many things you can do on a limited budget."

2. Build your party around a theme such as a circus, a sports event or a popular movie.

"I absolutely recommend having a theme because it makes it all the more fun," Galley said. You can match the food, the party favors and the entertainment to a theme. Themes can be very entertaining for guests and allows them to take an active role in the celebration.

"Themes tend to go with what's happening with the rest of the world, what people are aware of, what's hot at the moment or what used to be hot," Galley said. "And it can get very clever if you have a good sense of humor." Some themes can be pulled off very inexpensively. For example, Hollywood themes are always popular.

"You can have your friends dress up as their favorite movie stars," Galley said. Award guests with self-made chocolate Oscars and make movie-inspired party cuisine. Some current popular party themes Galley has created are a Moroccan Feast, 2001 Space Odyssey ("everyone can dress in silver") and Brazilian Carnival. Disco parties are still very big.

3. If you shop around, you can create a festive feast without paying a king's ransom.

Most of your party planning dollars will go toward the cost of food, but instead of costly caterers, Galley suggested visiting a local cooking school for party chefs. At most schools, you can interview student chefs and arrange a tasting.

"Some of the chefs in cooking schools are wonderful," Galley said. "Cooking schools have some of the most creative people around; they're just at the beginning of their careers so they're anxious to be creative and come up with different things. …

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