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Celebrity Event Planner Cathy Riva: How to Host a Memorable Party

Cathy Reva

Cathy Riva-conceived brunch spread.

She's planned everything from a baby shower for Charlie Sheen to an A-list technology event at the New York Stock Exchange with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, so when the opportunity arose to meet party planner extraordinaire Cathy Riva at an event put together by Sauza Tequila to celebrate "Ladies Who Brunch", I jumped at the opportunity. A seasoned vet when it comes to working with a discerning "seen-it-all" clientele, Riva had some fun, and more importantly, easy, ideas for making an at-home brunch, dinner, or cocktail party a memorable affair.

Cathy Riva-conceived cupcake place cards.

Immediately when walking in, I pulled out my camera to snap a picture of the place cards, even in the thick of wedding season, I've never seen ones as original as the ones crafted for the event. There were three different types on display, and here's how to make each of them:

1. Lemons/Limes

Slice a thick piece off the bottom of the lemon or lime so it stands up straight. Then, slice off about a half inch from the top. Use a pairing knife and carve out half of the insides of the fruit. Add a name holder and name card. Choose your favorite small bud flowers (violets, hydrangea, pansies…) and insert them into the fruit. Add moss or a green leaf to cover the base

2. Macaroon

This one was my favorite because it performs doubly duty as an amuse bouche (if you believe in the "eat dessert first" philosophy at least), and is super quick and easy. To make these place cards get season-appropriate French Macaroons (for spring think green, pink, purple…), and stand them on their edge and gently insert the name card holders and name cards.

3. Cupcakes

Bake your favorite cupcakes in petal baking cups (they have them at Sur La Table), add colored icing, name card holders, and name cards.

Cathy Riva suggests rimming your guests' glasses with colored sugar for a quick and easy, but memorable touch.

Riva also had an interesting take on creating a centerpiece. Instead of a simple flower arrangement, she suggests getting tangelos or kumquats, green Israeli Ruscus leaves, 18" Styrofoam cones, and any orange flowers. First, attach the tangelos to the Styrofoam cone with bamboo forks (they're like sturdy toothpicks). Then, fill in any white holes with green leaves and flowers. Trim the flowers so there is a little stem left.

For more ideas for hosting a memorable at-home event, check out Riva's blog.

Cathy Riva adds fresh flowers to give her homemade goods an extra something special; Riva suggests setting up a pancake station accompanied by a variety of toppings like chocolate chips, toasted nuts, and fruit, each placed in ramekins for a fun DIY effect.

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