Perfect Party Tips and Work-of-Art Hats

May 3, 2019 | Derby, Fashion

“I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.”
  Nancie J. Carmody, author

Hat by Attitudes by Angie, $598. Photos by Melissa Donald.

The Perfect Party

We gathered five creative party hints from expert Carrie Cooke Ketterman, who runs The Old Capitol Tea Room, a vintage tea room along with her husband Jeff. She is also an artist, musician, and has a travel blog. Look for Carrie and her husband Jeff at their 22nd Derby — their outfits will be paying homage to the 80th anniversary of Gone with the Wind.

For a creative party, Carrie suggests:

1. Attach a theme that lets your guests know they are in for an exciting party; not just a veggie tray and cheese cube get together. For instance, how about a 1970s themed Derby party?

2. Use your party as an excuse to dress up. As a huge vintage enthusiast, I love to pick up a statement piece from The Nitty Gritty and wear it for a party.

3. Set the atmosphere with appropriate tunes. I am particularly fond of uptempo 1920s and 1930s music for our afternoon tea parties. I like 1950s Mad Men-esque big band and lounge music for cocktails or cooking around the BBQ for a summer get together. Maybe a Parisian 1960s pop station mixed with Django Reinhardt for background during a graduation party.

4. Get creative with your decor. Remember those Derby hats stacked in the closet? Use them for decor by hanging them on a wall or place them around your tables.  For example, the tea trays I use in our tea room are vintage plates that I have glued on candlesticks or sherbert glasses found in thrift stores. They are statement pieces that put a twist on displaying appetizers and are super easy to make.

5. For drinks, think of the little details to add. Maybe you have an herb station for your drinks both alcoholic and non. A sprig of rosemary, lavender, mint, cucumber wheels, or lemon verbena leaves are both a nice touch for decor at a bar and tastes lovely in a drink whether it is bourbon, tea, or just water.

“[Hats] are artwork. You can always go out and find a dress to wear for some occasion,
but there are not that many occasions you can wear
a hat.”
– Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne

If you hunger for a show-stopping Derby hat, feast your eyes on the beautiful artistry of these headpieces.

Carrie Cooke Ketterman is wearing a hat by Griffin Hatters, $368, The Mysterious Rack, 558 S. 4th St. In her hand is a hat by Laura Hubka Millinery, $600, House of K Boutique. On wall from top to bottom: Gabriel Amar for Frank Olive Hats, $175, Von Maur; Hat by Headcandi, $352, House of K Boutique; Hat by Simply Laura, $275, available at Von Maur and The Brown Hotel; Hat by Attitudes by Angie, $625; Hat by Headcandi, $328, House of K Boutique; Gabriel Amar for Frank Olive Hats, $175, Von Maur; Hat by Abbie’s Designer Hats, $145, 270.750.0560.

Carrie is wearing a hat by Secret Beauty Hats, $425, Hampton Inn gift shop, 101 E. Jefferson St. On left tray, hat by Gabriel Amar for Frank Olive Hats, $185, Von Maur. On right tray, hat by Rebecca’s Hats, Veils, & Accessories, $175.


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