How to plan a party just like Lauren Conrad

Some people might think that a night out with former Ms. Hills, Lauren Conrad, involves busting out a thong and hopping into a hot tub with a glass of sparkling rosé in hand. Those people would be wrong. Conrad is serious about her swanky soirees and while she used to love a backyard bubble fest with Brody, those days are long gone for the Laguna Beach native. As her latest book, Celebrate, lavishly illustrates, the 30-year-old TV personality, author and designer (see Paper Crown and her line with Kohl’s), likes her bashes to be as prepped as a J.Crew collection. Here, she gives us a sneak peak of her new book (on sale tomorrow) and talks about the dos and don’ts of partying smarter.

What, in your opinion, makes or breaks a good party?
Everybody has to have a good time. The best bashes are when you don’t even remember the details. You just remember who was there and that you enjoyed different parts of the party for different reasons.

What’s the number one thing you should never think about wearing to a party?
It’s really important to dress appropriately and for the mood of the event you are going to. Especially if it is an event that is honoring someone else. I think if you’re questioning whether you should or should not wear a certain outfit to a party—you definitely should not be wearing it. If it’s an engagement party, bridal event, wedding, shower, you just should not be wearing white. That should be obvious for most people. Also, anything too loud or attention-grabby that takes away from the honoree is disrespectful. 

What’s the most opulent party you ever attended?
My own wedding. It’s the biggest party I’ve ever been to. It’s also the most fun and favorite I’ve attended.

What was the most challenging part of planning your big day?
There’s so many moving parts when you have that big of an event going on. One of my best friends is a wedding planner so it was really easy—she had giant binders with colour-coded tabs in them. It was she and I mostly. My husband had a few things he wanted a say in but for the most part, he told me to “go for it.” I couldn’t tell you how many vendors we worked with. I lost count.

When you were on The Hills, what song got you into a partying mood?
Oh man, you are asking about 7 years ago! I don’t have amazing taste in music. I’m a top 40 girl. It was probably be what was on radio repeat at the time.

Do you get PTSD when you watch other people’s reality series?
I don’t watch reality TV. When you’ve done it, its ruined for you. You lose the magic forever. You start pointing out things that aren’t reality. I’ve seen so many inconsistencies—like, sweater on or sweater off in one scene that’s clearly been chopped up for a certain result. For me the way that they are editing things drives me crazy so I’m not able to enjoy those shows.

What are the best online sources for party throwing?
Amazon is a one-stop shop and Amazon Prime will get you something a day later than ordered. I love Minted.com for invites—they actually designed the invites for the chapters. Then there is this amazing site called GourmetSweetBotanicals.com where they serve edible flowers and they are really beautiful. They elevate any plate—even if you’re doing a plate of Charcuterie.

With your clothing collections, you created digital mood boards to help you sort out your design. Did you do the same with Celebrate?
I had physical mood boards. The were posters that looked like giant real life Pinterest pages. I really needed to see how every chapter looked on each poster — and how the flowed with one another. Pantone chips and cutlery and plates and swatches and lots of inspiration images were on them. For Holiday, we placed berry red as the main colour, with darker colours around it. For our Clambake, we dipped into lots of blues so everything was light and summery. We also did a housewarming party with our favorite Mexican food. I’m all about tablescapes. A whole theme of a party can change if I see an inspiring part of a tablescape that gets me going. It was mostly detail shots from pretty current days.

Did your mood boards match the parties you ended up throwing and photographing for Celebrate?
I pulled the boards out the other day and we weren’t even close. They ended up being completely different. That’s the best way to do an event. You can start with a big idea and be consistent with that but it is important to let things evolve so it doesn’t look like a replica of another event you’ve been to.

If you could do something different about the way you used to throw parties, what would it be?
I wouldn’t stress out as much. I used to want everything to look ‘just so’ but now I want to have fun too. Everyone should relax when they are hosting.

As you know from The Hills, an ex-boyfriend could also be attending a party you are going to—sometimes with his new girlfriend. If this happens, what should or shouldn’t you do?
I’ve learned that if you’re attending an event, that is not the time or place to make a scene. Be cordial, be polite and move along. That’s the best way to approach it.