Rena Sindi is an Iraqi author and party hostess who is known for throwing legendary themed parties including A Hot Hacienda for Christies to kick off their Latin American Art Sale, a Black, White, and Diamond gala for Chanel, The Jungle party for Roberto Cavalli, and a floral ball she titled Scent of a Woman to launch Oscar de la Renta’s new fragrance. In her latest book, Be R Guest, published by Assouline, Sindi details everything from the minute details that make an intimate soirée pop to the careful logistics that make a 100-plus person bash come together. MOJEH.com spoke exclusively to the socialite about what makes a good party and her top tips for being a great host.
Who should you always invite to a party?
I call it my Big Five.
1. Your friends: This may sound obvious but what I mean is that at the top of your list should be your close friends. The ones you call and spend time with informally, no particular occasion necessary.
2. People you like but don’t know so well: This is one that I always hear people struggling with. ‘I think X seems great, I really like him/her, but I don’t really know him/her and I don’t want him/her to find it weird or think I’m a stalker or think I have no friends,’ and so on. A party is a perfect opportunity for you to reach out to acquaintances like these and truly expand your social circle.
3. A professional connection, whether actual or potential: An informal gathering on your turf is by far the best way to explore or nurture a professional connection.
4. A love connection, also whether actual or potential: Dinner parties are a great setting to foster a love connection, whether it’s for yourself or a friend. Throwing a set-up into the mix also adds a bit of intrigue to the evening for the other guests.
5. The wildcard: The interesting / fabulous / (in) famous guest that you may not know so well (or at all, even) but that you can somehow get to attend your party.
What are the most important elements to a good party?
Good lighting, great music, flowing drinks, and most importantly, an eclectic, interesting, and fun guest list.
How do you decide on a theme?
The time of year and also the country / city that I am hosting the party is where I start to narrow down the themes that would be most appropriate. Sometimes I pick a venue first, in which case, certain themes seem most obvious for that setting. I also think that the theme needs to match the personality of the host. For myself, I like to choose themes that I can relate to and that people can relate to me.
Are physical invitations still important or can everything be done digitally?
These days digital invitations are fine for most occasions, I always use Paperless Post. It is the easiest and most efficient way to manage RSVP’s and communicate with your guests. However, very special occasions, such as weddings or landmark birthday parties call for physical invitations.
What are your top tips for being a good host?
Be brutal with the guest list: Only invite people who fall into one of the categories listed in my Big Five above.
Good lighting: People have a better time when they look good.
Good music with words: Enough with the cool house music, people have fun when they dance to songs they know and can relate to.
The seating: Seating is a key ingredient to a good party. Mixing people up in a way that makes sense, thinking about each and every guest and who they would enjoy meeting / sitting with.
Feed your guests enough but not too much: Nothing is more of a buzz kill than overeating. Simple, light food during the party and then you can go heavy on the carbs for a late night / end of party ‘breakfast’.
The energy of the host: No matter what happens or what goes wrong, the host needs to be relaxed and have fun. People take their cue from their host and the good energy is contagious.