6 Questions for Colin Cowie

Today I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Colin Cowie, lifestyle expert and party planner for celebrities like Oprah, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian. Colin hosted an intimate holiday event at The Thompson Hotel to celebrate the season and show off new home fragrance products from Proctor and Gamble.


I found Colin to be exactly as I expected: gentlemanly, generous and brimming with helpful ideas and quotable thoughts.  We sat down over coctails and I asked him a few keys questions:

SS: What are the holiday themes that you are seeing for 2012?

CC: I love mixed metallics, sparkle, tangerine & cognac and lime green for the season. And for food, there has been a major trend towards truffle oil and truffles on everything!  That’s over now.  This year, it’s all about kale, which can be used in many different ways to make it good.  In music, I believe that making a good playlist is key and that you must do so by using your own favorite list and adding 15% holiday favorites to make it the ultimate playlist.

SS: You are famous for your wedding planning.  Have you done any holiday-themed weddings?  Do people want to include holiday themes when they get married at this time of year?

CC: I recently did a wedding at a mountain resort in Vail, Colorado and I did the attendants in ecru and the bride wore cranberry.  She came in on a cranberry sled and it was wonderful.  I always say that there are no rules except good taste should prevail.

SS: How do you feel about hand-written invitations or thank-you notes versus Evites and texts?

CC: You get 10 points for a handwritten thank-you note the day after, 8 points for a text right away and 6 points for a note two weeks later.  Ever since the market turned down people are more careful but are still getting married: there are 55 thousand weddings every weekend of the year in the US. Weddings are recession resistant but budgets have gotten smaller.  Paperless post is a trend that means people can spend less on invitations and still afford to serve lamb (for example) and focus on what is important.

SS: What is an ideal hostess/host gift?

CC: Anything that people can use like wine, champagne, a good playlist.  Flowers don’t work because you force the hostess to find a vase and trim the stems which she doesn’t have time for.  Flowers must be sent the day before or the day after.  Fragrant candles are wonderful.  I have a stocked gift closet with pre-wrapped items with cards all ready to go.  I buy things when they are on sale and use them all year round.

SS: People tend to stock-pile Christmas decorations and fill up their garages and attics.  What should people purge?

CC: Great style means ruthless editing.  If you haven’t used something for 18 months, I believe in getting rid of it.  Right now there are 40 thousand hurricane victims in the US who are in need of new things.  I hope that people will donate those extra items instead of being over-saturated themselves.

SS: Do you have any big events coming up that you can tell us about?

CC: I have a 300 person wedding in Texas coming up that will be very big (with a budget to match!).  And then holidays with my family in South Africa.

What a pleasant way to spend an hour!  A few decorating tips I picked up (but somehow forgot to photograph): 1. use tightly bunched white carnations in reflective vases to add inexpensive yet lovely flowers to the table; 2. Use those same carnations on the tree by grouping three flowers together in a water pick (or floral tube) and pushing the stems in towards the trunk; 3. Colin believes in curating over matching when decorating: “I believe that a savvy entertainer is a resourceful one” (I always say the same thing BTW); 4. don’t use home fragrance in the dining room as guests should enjoy the smell of food not candles;  5. personalize store-bought candles by applying silver or gold leaf to the glass.

Great advice!  Thanks so much to Colin Cowie and to MSL PR for a lovely event.  And by the way, the holiday Febreeze candles are amazing; love the “vanilla & moonlight” scent. Yum.

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