Jenn Sbranti truly is the Hostess with the Mostess! A graphic designer by trade, Jenn created her site, dedicated to inspired party design, in 2005, and there seems to be no end to the creative ways she finds to celebrate life’s special moments. In our exclusive interview, Jenn tells us what her dream party would look like, why she really loves Easter, and what lessons she has learned along the way. We couldn’t help but be charmed by her infectious energy that would make anyone want to join the party—maybe even Gwen Stefani!
How has your point of view evolved, both design wise and business wise, since you founded Hostess with the Mostess?
Wow! Where to begin? I can honestly say that I’ve learned so much on this journey so far with HWTM in both respects.
Regarding design, I used to always instantly answer “modern, definitely!” when it came to questions about my own design style preferences, but now I have a pretty major crush on vintage, retro, and even very feminine designs as well. Seeing so many different themes and styles brought to life in unique ways through the features we share on HWTM has taught me that the way a design style is executed is as important as the style itself.
I’ve also learned how absolutely, undeniably true it is that “design is in the details” and that “love is in the details,” whether these details are brought to life in a very simple, sweet way or in an elaborate or over-the-top way.
Last but not least, I’m probably more of a dreamer and critical thinker when it comes to design now than before, and I’ve learned to really strive for and appreciate “clever” design—when elements not only look pretty, but come together in an outside-the-box way. A few great examples from some of our past features on HWTM would be the edible “spray paint cans mid-spray” fashioned from rock candy and cupcakes, the “honeycomb dessert table backdrop” made out of octagon paper maché boxes, and the so-cute-it’s-scary “Zombie Mousse.” As far as my own work goes, I was pretty excited at how our DIY “baby roller skates” turned out.
Regarding business, I can say with confidence that I have a much deeper understanding of the business side of the creative world—and the online publishing world—now than before starting HWTM, and while I try to soak up as much knowledge from others as possible, most of these lessons have been learned through good ol’ fashioned trial and error. There’s nothing like living a lesson to really ingrain it! At this point in my career, I’ve finally learned to trust my own instincts – but only after first questioning them thoroughly. I’ve also learned that it’s much better to be really great at a few things than to spread yourself too thin and be kind of mediocre at several. Most of all, I’ve learned that there really is an incredible amount of opportunity out there, but it’s often hidden in the hardest-to-reach or most unexpected place—meaning you sometimes need to step outside the proverbial “comfort zone” and remain open-minded, to both new ideas & new people/collaborations, in order to find it.
Spring is right around the corner, and along with it comes a line up of holidays and party occasions. What is your favorite reason to celebrate during the spring season?
As far as traditional spring holidays go, I’ve always loved Easter, which probably has as much to do with my insane sweet tooth and love affair with jelly beans as anything else. I’m also a big fan of creative breakfasts though, and Easter is the perfect time to go all out with the breakfast spread, whether it’s eating bunny shaped pancakes at home in your PJs with the kids or enjoying a fancy schmancy brunch with extended family and friends. I also love any excuse to celebrate outside during the spring—like a backyard baby/bridal shower or a birthday party at the park.
Hostess gifts are such a wonderful way for guests to take a little piece of the celebration home with them. What is your favorite hostess gift to give and some of your favorites that you have received?
I love sending party guests home with a themed favor/gift they can really use, so usually that means an edible treat. Creatively packaged sweets are my standard go-to, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to presentation. I’ve also done some fun everyday items like pairs of rolled warm socks for a “bundle up” winter baby shower, pink shower gel for a “Showered with Love” theme, jars of homemade bbq sauce, and bottles of electric-hued nail polish for a music/record theme.
For smaller, more intimate parties, it’s always lovely to receive something personalized or sentimental. For example, I have a friend that hosts a Christmas dinner party every year with the same group of friends, and she always sends guests home with Christmas ornaments stamped with the year. Those make for great memories!
If you were hosting a dinner party and could invite any five guests, current or historical, who would be on your guest list?
There are several ways I could go here—from historical icons and inspiring intellectuals to my favorite designers (it would be hard to narrow my favorite designers down to five though)! But, I’m honestly feeling in the mood for a fun girls’ night lately, so I’m going to go with a dream list of smart, successful, current-day women that also seem like they would be a blast to share a bottle (or 3) of wine with: Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Hudson, Sandra Bullock, and Gwen Stefani.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t chosen to pursue a career in design?
I’ve honestly been “designing” on some level since I was little, from endlessly arranging my beloved collection of stuffed animals “just so” to strategic doodling on my “brown bag” textbook covers—so it’s hard to think of any career for myself that wouldn’t have some element of design to it. I do love creative writing though…and animals, so maybe I would be some sort of animal caretaker that writes New York Times Bestsellers in her downtime.
If you could host a dream party anywhere with absolutely no limitations regarding budget, what would it look like?
My dream party would look like a bold, funky, fantastical mix of Alice in Wonderland and Cirque du Soleil. There would be whimsical, circus-inspired food and drinks, a dance floor, funny photo booth props, and maybe some (guided) trapeze lessons and giant trampolines. It would also be a surprise party for a very deserving someone. And No Doubt would be playing, too. Maybe I can ask Gwen about that at our “dinner party”!
Check out more ideas from Jenn Sbranti, the Hostess with the Mostess, with the following links: