NYC’s Coolest 4some Shows Us How To Throw A Tasteful Rager

We've thrown a swanked-up dinner party. We've hosted an incredibly intimate cocktail get-together. Now, in part three of our holiday entertaining series, we're going out with a bang — or, rather a bangin' rager. And who better to swipe large-scale event tips from than the four of the most popular kids in town? Enter, Elle.com Editorial Director Keith Pollock, Wren founder-designer Melissa Coker, Steven Alan's head of visuals/merchadising John Guidi, and photographer Thomas Whiteside. The minute the FB invitation to their seasonal blowout pinged our inbox, we knew we had to get this foursome to let us in on their set-up secrets. We stopped by Pollock's East Village apartment the night before the shindig, to snap the process — and snag the quad's tips (quotes below are from Keith and Melissa) — after all, it's not every Saturday-night house party that manages to stay tasteful. Seriously, with an outdoor tent (!), hurricane candles, festive lights, Momofuku cake balls, and a rose punch, this rave was all rad, no bad.
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"John, one of the four hosts of the party, had the idea to create a wall of
lights. 'A giant Lite Brite,' he called it. Or as I told people at the
party, 'it's the new Dan Flavin I just bought.' We painted two boards black
and then stapled them with over 100 vintage-style lights in a grid
formation. The fun came halfway through this project when we accidentally
stapled the cord and blew all of the lights out. Back to Home Depot!
Another DIY project? We spray-painted the pine branches white."

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"Unfortunately our fourth host, photographer Thomas Whiteside, isn't in this
shot. He was at home crafting the party's playlist, which included a mix of
holiday standbys, Mariah Carey, and even that Justin Bieber song
'Mistletoe.' Plus, a lot of non-Christmas related music, because it's hard to
dance to The Mormon Tabernacle Choir."

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"Here is a close-up of our Dan Flavin light installation — or wall of
Christmas lights — depending on which host you spoke to about it."

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'I'm all for Christmas-y decorations, but I can't with poinsettias. Did you
know they can be toxic to pets? We opted for something safer for my dog, and
more unexpected than the usual holiday floral arrangement."

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"My bathroom was designed with these giant plaster trees 'growing' in each
corner, so I wrapped pine garlands around the limbs and draped them from
tree to tree. I wanted it to feel like a lush forest. Don't have life-sized
plaster trees in your bathroom? Well, I still recommend using the live,
green garland over the shiny, tinsel strands — no matter where you are
hanging it. Another tip for your bathroom, when planning a party (other then hiding
your Age Defying Regeneris Serum, etc.), is to dim the lights and light it
with candles. No one wants to be confronted with a mirror and harsh bathroom
lighting after having a few cocktails."

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"I live in the East Village, not too far from one of the best dessert places:
Momofuku Milk Bar. Because we were planning a larger party, and expected
most people to arrive after 10 p.m., we decided against serving food. Instead,
we set out small desserts for when people inevitably get a little drunk and
peckish."

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"Me not eating cookies, ie one of my biggest challenges year-to-date."
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"This Tom Dixon tray was a good alternative to the plastic Santa plates on which holiday treats are usually served."
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"Artfully cutting strawberries for our punch."
Melissa made Kingswood's Holiday Rose Punch; Recipe below:

1 part vodka

1/3 part crème de cassis or blackcurrant liqueur
1/3 part fresh lemon juice
1/3 part pineapple juice
Lemon zest and strawberry slices to float in bowl

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"Pouring red currant juice over a white table cloth. No splashes."
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"My idea of multi-tasking: finishing the punch / surveying the decorations."
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"We wanted to take advantage of the outdoor space, so we rented a tent for
the backyard. And nothing says 'All The Stops Have Been Pulled Out' like
having a giant circus tent erected for your party! Except maybe hiring a
marquee performer, but a tent is cheaper."

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"This is John brainstorming a lighting concept for the party. John does all the visuals and store design for Steven Alan, and has worked on the creative
teams for Ralph Lauren and Barneys. So, when he has an idea about this
stuff, we listen. He decided to hang these lanterns around the rent-a-tent
and changed the bulbs from white to different primary colors. Not only did
this echo the light board in the living room, but it also made the lanterns
look like giant ornaments!"

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"I hate dealing with Christmas lights. Trying to untangle a messy strand,
place them evenly, and deal with the multiple extension cords...there is no holiday task I
despise more. But I am a team player. And nothing beats the effect."

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"We lit the 20' x 30' tent with 12 of these lanterns, hung at varying lengths. It wasn't your typical White Christmas tableau; it felt festive, but
moreover, it was easy and inexpensive. We bought the colored bulbs and
lanterns at the local hardware store."

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"Ta da! It's amazing what candles, flowers, and a table linen can do to
really zhuzh up a place."

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"Reward!"