5 ways to make a pop-up party pop
Secret location chosen? Check. Now here are some tips to set a memorable scene.
By Hala Bissada
Some would say the first pop-up dinner party took place in 1868 and was organized by a member of The Zodiac Club—a secret society made up of twelve wealthy influential men who were dubbed the titans of the Gilded Age. They met six times a year and, for each dinner, one member was appointed the “caterer” and was responsible for selecting the venue with the criteria being that it had to be exclusive, elite and most importantly secret. Since then, pop-up parties have come a long way—the most notable being Dîner en Blanc, the annual event that began in Paris and now is hosted in cities all around the world. But hosting a one-off dinner party in an unusual, secret location is also something you can do to celebrate a special occasion. Here’s just a few things to keep in mind if you’re hosting your own.
1. Get some crates to work double duty
Whether you choose to host your pop-up party at a nearby beach, a park, or even in a farmer’s field or rooftop, getting the items you need to your location is one of the greatest challenges. Why not pack your items in wooden crates that, once emptied, can be used as tables? If you’re in Toronto, head to Antique Crates for one-of-a-kind finds that you’ll be proud to add to your own home afterwards.
2. Stay grounded, literally
At a pop-up party, you shouldn’t feel constrained to dining with tables and chairs. Why not create a casual and comfortable environment by using an area rug and pillows? For a personal touch that’s budget-friendly, use pieces from your own home. For those with more of a budget, head to Bookhou for some lovely, local pillow options. For rugs, check out Cambie’s Peruvian-inspired creations or rent a rug from Reznick Event Carpets.
3. Put flowers at the centre
Since most pop-up parties take place outside, flowers make an easy, and appropriate, centrepiece. One of my favourite florists for events like this is Jackie O, who will make sure to hook you up with local, seasonal choices. Or, visit Pick Ontario, a great resource to find a florist near you. Once you have your flowers in glass vases, all you need in some taper candles and you’ll have simple, elegant centrepieces.
4. Light it up
Your pop-up dinner will likely cross over into nighttime, so lighting is an important consideration. You want something that creates nice lighting, isn’t too bright, and which you don’t need an electrical outlet for. For an option that’s both classic and trendy, check out this round string lights from Bedding Inn. For something a little more festive, these silver spiral string lights from Kikkerland will do the trick.
5. Press play
Dinner parties are always fun—but dinner parties with great music playing are even better. The music you pick should add to the ambiance but not be too distracting or too loud. Spotify makes putting together a playlist easy. But if you want one great album that creates a mellow mood with songs everyone knows, download She & Him’s Classics. If you do want to add a little energy later in the evening, Time Out’s 100 Best Party Songs is a perennial resource.
Hala Bissada, President and CEO of Hala Inc., is an international award-winning event-producer known for executing exceptional world-class events. Hala’s prestigious honours include the coveted 2013 Best Industry Contribution Award at the ISES Esprit awards—for establishing the Ryerson University Special Event Certificate Program—and Event Professional of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Event Industry Star Awards.