If you’re like me, hosting a holiday party is an overwhelming and anxiety-ridden thought! What do I do first? How much food should I have on hand? How do I best entertain the littlest guests but who often require the most attention? Luckily for all of us, a business like The Panacea Collective exists. Started by co-founders Lisa Hickey and Autumn Rich, the duo have spent their entire careers throwing parties around the globe. The Panacea Collective is a 360-degree event production and experiential marketing firm with an expansive boutique furniture rental, environmental styling and staging operation in-house. I first met Lisa when we started the planning process for Current Conference. A mama herself and seeing the demand for an event for working and creative mothers, The Panacea Collective immediately jumped on board as our Design Partner and outfitted everything you see below. It was incredible! The talent, the kindness and the honesty (Lisa spoke on a panel and had the audience on the edge of their seats sharing her experience of building a business while growing a family), left us inspired and wanting more. Throwing your own holiday party? Lisa shares where to invest your money, design trends she’s seeing this season and the one tip for making every party a success. 

Tell us a little about Panacea Collective? What was your inspiration behind creating a party rental business? 

Panacea Collective is a boutique strategic experiential marketing firm. We specialize in environmental design, including our curated furniture and decor rental collection.  Our mission is to create inspiring experiences, whether we are styling a backyard party or a VIP Lounge at one of the nation’s largest music festivals.

What is the first thing you do when party planning? Location? Invites?

With the holidays coming up, there are many reasons to celebrate and throw parties and events!  When I am planning a party, the first thing is always getting clear on the intention for celebration.  Focusing on the purpose and desired outcome helps me to narrow down the perfect theme, location, and date.  For instance, the focus may be more on family and friends, or maybe it’s a company event and we want to impress our clients.  I want both to feel special, but very different in terms of planning and outcomes.

What is your number one tip for throwing a holiday party? 

For me, holiday parties are all about the decor!  It is such a fun and festive time of year, and there are so many creative directions to take.  However, it can also be overwhelming, so I would suggest narrowing focus to a few things, and do them very well.  On a larger scale, a unique lighting design can transform any space.  I also love large floral installations and festive lounge groupings.  For something smaller scale, like entertaining at home, I focus on the tablescape.  The small touches in dining table decor always go a long way creating a special moment for your guests.

How do we involve our kids in the party planning process? What are your thoughts on a kid activity or designated kid table? 

One thing my daughter loves to do with me is to create mood boards on my computer or iPad.  When I am collecting my decor ideas I compile images in a keynote or powerpoint document so I can see how everything looks together.  She helps me find images we both like, we shop online for decor, and even just moving pictures around on the mood board is fun for her.  She helped plan her 5th birthday party this way.
For larger family gatherings, a kids activity station is key.  Around the holidays, decorating gingerbread houses, or an arts and crafts station will keep them busy.  I love a kids table for dinner, too.  Let’s be honest, It’s more enjoyable for both kids and the adults.

Are there any design trends you’re seeing this holiday season? How can we incorporate them into our holiday parties? 

One of the biggest trends this year is Maximalism and decorating with bright colors and varied textures.  Metallic trees with decorations in hot pink, bright blue, lime green, teal, and yellow.  Gold, lots of gold.  Feather wreaths.  Fur tree skirts.  Antlers.  Go bold and have fun with it.  More is more!

Let’s talk rentals – What are some of your favorite Panacea pieces for the holiday season? Clever ways to display holiday cards or desserts?

We just published a blog post of our favorite holiday decor themes, which include some of our most popular pieces.  Our Chaumont Chair is always a hit for holiday parties or Santa’s throne.  I love our Cyndi chairs  because they are fuzzy and cozy.  If you are leaning into the Maximalism theme, our Cardi chair will be the talk of the party.   We have pieces to fit any theme, and our designers can help bring your vision to life.

If the budget is tight, where should we invest our dollars when planning a party? 

If you are not sure where to spend your dollars, I would focus mainly on food and beverage.  Create some signature cocktails and a themed drink menu, then make your food display stand out by styling with fun decor and serving pieces.  A large and impressive cheese and charcuterie board is always something your guests will love.

You’ve set-up dozens of holiday parties over the years, what are some of your favorite installations?

One of our clients had an Apres Ski themed party.  The furniture and decor transported you to a cozy lodge.  It was great!  At another, we painted disco balls and had red, green, and silver disco balls hanging over the dance floor.  There was an epic dance party that night!