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September 23, 2010

Press | Featured on Nice Little Party | Interview with Jenny Steffens

This week I was interviewed by the folks at "Nice Little Party" - a great page for all of us home entertaining fans.

Here's a link to the interview! 


photo by claire ryser
We caught up with entrepreneur, event planner, and blogger Jenny Steffens, who started her own event-planning shop, Occasions in 2005. Although Jenny came from a journalism and PR background, from her love of entertaining, design, cooking, crafting and creating, she created Occasions Entertaining. Along with planning intimate dinner parties, lavish showers and cocktail events, Jenny has designed and coordinated weddings for her Clients for the past 4 years. Check out her tips and tricks on hosting a memorable get-together on a budget, and more! Jenny’s blog is a must read for anyone interested in cooking and entertaining.

Q: How did you get into event planning and what made you decide to start your own business, Occasions?

A: I started by helping friends plan their weddings, bridal showers and special events.  The natural progression of Occasions developed from there!  The business model is constantly evolving and changing to adapt to the market and my lifestyle... one of the many advantages to being self-employed.  Currently, I'm working on taking more and more of my business online - blogging all about home entertaining, recipes, projects for our house, weddings and the holidays.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from for your various events?

A:  I read a lot of magazines, entertaining books, websites and blogs.  However, most of the time I just think about what I would want if it were my party - I always go for seasonal, simple, bountiful, special & fun.  My style has evolved from my upbringing out in a small town in the country, and role models like The Barefoot Contessa and Martha Stewart.    

Q: It seems like you love to host people in your home, what is the best advice you can give to those looking to start entertaining but aren’t sure how to throw an event together?

A: Don't overwhelm yourself with several complicated homemade recipes.  Select one or two special things to prepare, then make everything else really easy - assemble bountiful artisan cheese platters, purchase bakery desserts (that are delicious) and do big arrangements of simple flowers like hydrangeas.  No one can mess that up!  Also, I like to do manageable sizes of parties - dinner parties for 6, outdoor BBQs for 10, cocktail parties for 14.  I find if we entertaining for more than that at a time, it becomes like work and I don't enjoy myself.

Q: How can someone throw together a great event on a budget? What are some shortcuts that can be made without sacrificing too much style?

A: Instead of doing a full bar, serve a fun cocktail for before dinner, then serve wine at the table.  It will take everyone out of their normal drink shell and let them have a little more fun while being budget friendly at the same time.  Also, invest in only one special menu item - a steak frites dinner party can be really inexpensive because the only thing you have to invest in is the steak.  Potatoes for the frites are inexpensive, and no one will remember anything else after a fabulous steak anyway.  For the Fall Entertaining, a soup party is a great way to throw a party on a budget.  (I'll be doing a post on that today!)

Q: What’s the most memorable dinner party you’ve ever attended?

A: My friends threw Mike & Me a fabulous Engagement Party in the backyard.  They had done so many little touches - lights through the trees, lanterns everywhere, and had all of our best friends and family members around one long table.  It was perfect.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect about your job, and the most challenging?
A: Many times I'm working with people and families during very special moments in their lives - weddings, baby showers, holiday parties, etc.  Naturally, these moments can be stressful because of the importance they hold - I do everything possible to relieve their stress so they can really be present in these special moments and enjoy the occasion.  It can sometimes be a daunting task - but so worth it in the end when your Client expresses their gratitude so thoughtfully. 

Q: What’s a day in the life of Jenny like?

A: Mr. Darcy, my dog, and I walk every morning.  We stroll through our neighborhood and observe the seasonal changes - I find it is a great way for me to open my mind and get ready for a creative and productive day.  The rest of the morning is typically spent in my office (or at the kitchen counter!) on my laptop working on my websites and blogging.  In the afternoon, if I don't have a meeting with a Client, I'll work on a project for our house, a wedding craft for a bride, arrange flowers for an event, or make something fun for the blog.  I've been spending a lot of time working with my new camera to improve the quality of photos on the blogs.  In the evening, I make dinner for Mike and myself every night. 

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