If in-demand LA party planner Annie Campbell isn’t putting the finishing touches on a Goop event, she’s executing a fab dinner for designer Jenni Kayne or one of her many celeb clients (which she won’t disclose because… discretion), all while documenting it in her inspo-filled Instagram. The boutique catering and event-design company Campbell owns with her husband, Greg Murnion, can handle everything from major corporate events to an all-pink rose-themed 50th birthday party for 100 girlfriends. As a creator of all things fun and chic, she has a front seat to this year's entertaining trends happening in events and party-planning, from the cuisine to the décor and all the tiny details and fab touches in between.
So what influences these waves in what’s cool? According to the entertaining expert, it’s several factors. “In terms of food, people are inspired by their travels and restaurants,” says Campbell who resides in Laurel Canyon with Murnion and their two kids. “My clients often bring ideas to the table based on dishes they’ve experienced on an amazing trip. And fashion and interior-design trends tend to inform decor and tablescapes.”
She even thinks the news influences how people celebrate. “People crave cozy, intimate celebrations as we are inundated by the upsetting news cycle,” she says. And, unsurprisingly, Instagram also has had an impact on her business and the requests she receives. “People are inspired by what they see and want to recreate favorite moments” says Campbell. “At the same time, social media very much perpetuates a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ feeling, and everyone wants the newest, greatest thing. This means trends have a much shorter shelf life.”
Given Campbell’s impeccable eye, endless creativity and serious talent in the kitchen, TZR tapped the established entertaining expert to find out what the hottest happenings on the party circuit are right now, including what’s popular, what’s on its way out, and what she thinks might be the next big thing.
2020 Entertaining Trend: Picture-Perfect Food
In the last year, it has become readily apparent to Campbell that food and drinks need to be more than delicious and satiating, they need to be photogenic. “The aesthetics of food are as important as the flavors: garnishes, edible florals and color,” she says. “Everyone loves a beautiful ice cube.”
Even better, making a show of the process of cooking plays right into the social media-obsessed world. “We did a lot of open-fire cooking last year, which I hope to continue in 2020,” says Campbell. “It is an instant conversation piece.” And if you think event-planning has somehow escaped the CBD phenomenon, you would be wrong. Campbell says that CBD cocktails have recently become a very popular request among her clients.
A quick glance at Campbell’s Instagram feed also proves that superior cheese boards reign supreme. “Grazing boards continue to be an obsession,” says the event guru. “Beautiful cheese and crudités boards are Instagram eye-candy.” Carb lovers will also be happy to know that, according to Campbell, “Bread is making a comeback.” You heard it here first. “Despite the increase in gluten-free diets, people seem to be less afraid of carbs, and we have more requests for pasta and pizza than a few years ago,” she adds. And while party-goers may dress like fancy adults to attend a party, they instantly become children once the food is served. “Comfort foods remain popular: grilled cheese, fried chicken, sliders and French fries,” she says. “People like to eat like little kids.”
People may want to eat what toddlers eat, but it turns out they no longer want to consume like a family. “People are moving away from the family-style dinner, preferring plated options or stations,” says Campbell. “While the idea of family style is nice, it is often confusing for guests, and people don’t get everything they want or enough of it. Also, it clutters the table!” Finally, Campbell says that desserts are not the place to go over the top. “A big dessert bar with a lot of options is less popular than it used to be because they create a lot of waste,” she says. “People would rather have one or two amazing items. Quality over quantity.”
As for what Campbell believes 2020 holds for the social set, she thinks sustainability will continue to be at the forefront. “I think we are going to see a lot more plant-based options for both vegans and people who are just looking to eat more vegetables.”
2020 Entertaining Trend: Meaningful Décor
When it comes to what makes a party a success, the atmosphere has to account for at least half of that equation, if not more. According to Campbell, it’s all about choosing the best hues as of late. “People are moving away from neutrals and embracing more color and unexpected palettes,” she says. And it turns out even a party can’t escape the juggernaut that is the wellness trend: “People want to have meaningful experiences at events, like group meditations and sound baths,” she adds.
Perhaps hand-in-hand with wellness comes an increased interest in sustainability. “People are looking to reduce waste in reaction to the climate crisis,” says Campbell. “The event industry creates a lot of waste, and we all want to avoid landfill parties. This means eliminating single-use plastic and looking for more sustainable options. For table decor, there is an effort to use local flowers, repurpose arrangements, or use alternative centerpieces, like fruit that can be enjoyed post event. This has been a major conversation in the last year and will only grow in 2020.”
With the push toward feeling and doing good has also come a focus on looking good. “Costume parties are less popular than they used to be,” says Campbell. “People prefer to look and feel good in their own clothes.”
2020 Entertaining Trend: What’s Next
So, what’s next? In this stressful election year, Campbell feels that it’s now more important than ever for people to truly enjoy themselves. So how does she see that manifesting? “Dance parties,” she says. “People want to let loose and have fun.” She also thinks that events might, um, reach a new high. “Cannabis lounges,” says Campbell when asked what she could see becoming a new “thing” this year. “I also predict a party version of Ayahuasca or Psilocybin will take the place of tarot readers.” Beyond that, her guesses for 2020’s trends are sustainability, fresh color palettes, and thoughtful touches.
However, no matter how good the food or how beautiful the décor, the only thing that really matters is that the attendees have a good time. “I hope for an emphasis on fun,” says Campbell of the year ahead. “People are often overly focused on the aesthetic of the party. While I love to create beautiful events, less is often more — good food, good music, good friends. Nothing matters as much as the guest list.”