Raised on a farm in Arkansas as a scion of one of New York City’s founding Dutch families, Bronson van Wyck has been throwing maximalist parties for as long as he can remember. After graduating from Yale, he worked for Ambassador Pamela Harriman in Paris, and in 1999 launched the Van Wyck & Van Wyck hospitality company with his mother, Mary Lynn. Since then he’s become the go-to event designer to the A-list, from Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna to Diddy, but this down-to-earth Southern soul believes anyone can host a night to remember. In his new book, “Born To Party, Forced To Work: 21st Century Hospitality,” the New York transplant offers an insider’s take on some of history’s most memorable soirees, along with a few of his own events, sprinkled with gorgeous photos of his divine visions. Van Wyck shares with Alexa a few tricks of his trade for the everyday host.
What makes for a truly memorable party at home?
One of the most important but most forgotten tips is to make sure you aren’t so tied up with your hosting duties that you forget to make time for your guests. It’s essential to have face time with everyone attending your party. This can come in the form of greeting guests at the door, passing out canapes or refilling drinks.
What are your go-to tips on how to best entertain at home?
I always like to welcome guests with a shot of tequila — nothing gets the party going like a little liquid courage. Beyond that, I keep salty snacks stocked around the room. A few of my favorites are candied bacon, homemade kettle chips and spiced nuts. Salt makes you thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you drink more, and when you drink more … you never know where the night could go.
How do you create an enticing ambience?
Have a library in Spotify or Pandora of play-lists for a variety of moods. Music sets the tone for the night. Then keep the surprises coming! I try to have something new happen every 20 minutes. This could be as simple as changing the playlist or circulating a new round of appetizers, or as exciting as arranging a special musical performance. Guests should always be kept guessing.
Are there any new trends in entertaining you’re seeing — or starting?
In decor, we are doing lots of events where we layer color and prints to complement each other. We use color theory to inform these combinations by, for example, using a tiny bit of red next to something blue. The red makes the blue look bluer, and the blue makes the red look redder. On flowers, I’m inspired by 16th- and 17th-century Dutch still lifes, where each exquisite blossom is carefully chosen in order to create a true composition. And for food, it’s all about the high-low combo. Offer up proteins straight from the cutting board, serve fried chicken on silver platters and sliced steak on beautiful china, and hand out hot frites seasoned with sea salt right out of the oil.
Photos from his famed functions
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