We aren’t all born with the gift. The gift of seamless entertaining, that is. For many, throwing a birthday party for a loved one at our own home feels arduous, intimidating, or even repetitive. How do we make it special? Memorable? Fun? Well if Kris’ birthday celebration at Kourtney’s house last weekend was any indication, Kourt’s got the answers.
Kourtney’s first tip? Incorporate things the birthday guy/gal likes. That might sound obvious, but making someone feel special for their birthday is a lot of pressure, and it can be hard to think outside the usual box.
Get the guests involved for a surprise element
Even if the party itself isn’t a surprise, set the stage to totally delight the guest of honor with a trick up your sleeve, like a surprise guest, outfit, or theme that centers on the birthday person.
“I really wanted to make it fun and not be super traditional, and I wanted people to get involved. It can be so boring when people take themselves too seriously, dress up fancy, and sit down for a dinner party, so I had everyone come dressed as a version of my mom. Everyone was so excited to show each other how they dressed up like her, and they were even in character, acting like her. It was hilarious and really lightened up the party,” Kourt tells us—adding that leading up to the party, her phone was alive with group threads excitedly gushing and sharing ideas about how to create their perfect “Kris costume.”
Don’t have guests immediately settle into a cordial supper. Have a cocktail hour first so everyone can properly meet (especially if you have new guests or friends of friends meeting for the first time), catch up, marvel at each other’s great outfits, and whisper about the gifts they brought. It gives everyone a little more time to arrive, settle, and loosen up so that when they do get seated, they all feel unified. It’s also a fun way to showcase your cocktail, glassware, and hors d’oeuvres game—Kourt offered the Kris Jenner classic, the martini (in crystal glasses from the Kris and Kylie collab with Baccarat, of course; the Kardashian Jenner tradition crystal), along with a Petrossian caviar station with vegan caviar and pairings. Growing up, the family used to always eat Ruffles and onion dip at parties, so she put that out, too, as finger food for a side of sentimentality.
Start with food, and let nostalgia guide you
Think about past traditions of the person you’re celebrating. Is there a certain meal they love? A beloved family recipe, a favorite restaurant? It’s not just about the cake … although that’s definitely part of it (see Kris’ favorite basket-weave cake from her favorite bakery, Hansen’s, that she would get for the girls’ birthdays every year growing up). Think about their favorite things to eat; ask friends and family for favorite childhood recipes and adapt them yourself.
Kourt made sure there was a croquembouche, a hilariously ignored dessert of piled pastry puffs that Kris iconically insists is at every Christmas. Kourt (among others) has tried to remove this from the menu, but Kris insists it’s here to stay. Looking back at family photos, Kourtney sees this huge stack in the background every year—it’s truly a non-negotiable Kris classic and family inside joke.
She also ordered all of Kris’ top dishes from the iconic LA restaurant the fam has gone to since forever, The Ivy—crab cakes, corn chowder, and their famous brown bread—and had them warmed and professionally plated for a home-away-from-home-cooked vibe. Kourtney went all out and had an Italian chef come and make three pizzas— margherita, mushroom and veg, and chicken—cacio e pepe and tomato basil penne pastas, and salad, and she was so excited to finally use her pizza oven! For dessert, other than the obvious cake and hilarious croquembouche, was The Ivy’s Tar Tatin, plus a variety of Junior cookies, including some gluten-free options.
Put thought into the table spread
A gorgeous, considered table setting doesn’t have to be baller. Of course, Kourt had a few things made—Kris loves bold prints, so they had a tablecloth and napkins made (which is totally easy to DIY if you’re not in a pinch!) in leopard that they will use for years to come, to bring that element of Kris glam and funk. Kris’ love of martinis inspired a display of martini glasses with floating flowers and candles, while a little illustrated topper of Kris in a martini glass took the (literal) cake … and made its way onto invitations and place cards for a super personalized touch.
Get out of your own head (and party supply box)
If possible, sneak some of their hilarious, iconic, or inside-joke items from their place into yours. Kourtney was able to include some of Kris’ most infamous items, like her Goyard suitcase set, well-known from episodes of KUWTK, in the decor to give everyone a laugh. Kris was beyond surprised at the little vignettes Kourtney was able to grab and create around the party of her most classic and memorable moments.
Incorporate something the celebrated one has given you
If it’s someone you’re close with—which, if you’re throwing them a party, you most certainly are—they’ll have given you something in the past. For Kourt, it was some very special china and glassware (hello again, Baccarat). Kourtney set the table not only with china that belonged to both Kris and her dad but also with some chic Gucci china that Kris (the queen of dishware) had gifted her for Christmas one year, to remind her how much she cherished the gift and put it to good use.
There wasn’t enough of one style of china to serve all the guests. But Kourt didn’t despair over a perfectly matching set or buy an enormous brand new one. She mixed and matched styles and brought unity to the overall spread with colors and flowers. When in doubt, don’t sweat perfection; make do with what you have. Create floral arrangements and make them special by placing them in mismatched vessels of all shapes and sizes—think, a teacup from a thrift store, a slender vase, a larger vessel—and integrate them with florals and color so that it looks intentional and holds all of the love you poured into creating it.
Kourtney is known to be an incredible gift giver. She always tries to find an experience or item that will be special for the recipient, not just a flashy or trending new item. For her mom, she found a vintage bar lamp shaped like a martini, which she had incorporated into the party decor as a super standout centerpiece. Kris was delighted to find a gift tag on it—this unique piece was indeed hers for the taking.
End with a group activity
Instead of just sitting around the table eating and drinking, then standing and drinking in one room and moving to another room to stand and drink … do something together as a group. Kris adores karaoke, so everyone moved to the family room after dinner to give their best (or most ridiculous) performance. It was such a fun way to get everyone to be their real, silly selves, and a truly memorable way to end the night.
Kourt always tells her guests that no one should feel on the hook for having a great time. “Anytime that you’re going to have a party at your house, be prepared for a little mess or for something to happen, and just lighten up. Someone had spilled red wine on my carpet and kept apologizing and feeling so bad. But I told her if someone spills, it means we’re having a fun party!” She and Khloe were dancing on the coffee table and jumping on the sofa—parties are meant for letting loose, and where better to do that than in the comfort of your own home with your closest friends? The reviews are in—it was said, and we quote, that it was the greatest night the guests had had in a long time.
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