Thinking about the holidays can elicit images of easy laughter, loving hugs, good wine, and delicious food. It can also create heartburn, knots in your shoulders, and the desire to retire to bed at 10 a.m.
One possible “out” for the latter would be to hire yourself a holiday decorator and party planner. This month’s Creative Types features Jordan Stringfellow of Jordi & CO.
HP: Can you tell readers how you got into event planning? What drew you to it? What fulfills you with it?
Jordi: My husband and I love to entertain, always have. All the while I was working as an entertainment counsel in television, I spent my nights and weekends planning dinners and weekend entertainment for our family and friends. Friends began to ask me to help them “do” flowers, create a custom invitation, or set a special table. Eventually, when we were published in Bon Appetit magazine’s “Entertaining with Style” section, my husband suggested that perhaps I should start charging for these services!
I quit my law job and Jordi & CO was born. So, I was drawn to planning as it allows a perfect synergy between my detail-oriented legal training and my wildly creative soul.
The very same synergy is what I find fulfilling; to help clients refine an existing thematic plan, or design one for them out of whole cloth, then work on every element to execute that plan so the end result is a truly memorable occasion—that’s exciting and fulfilling for me.
HP: What can Jordi & CO offer people or businesses if they need decorating or an event to be planned this holiday season? Is there a size requirement or pre-planning requirement?
Jordi: Well, I wish we’d done this article a month ago, but yes, there is still time to engage my services for a holiday function. I actually do a lot of “last minute panic” work. I have been brought in to troubleshoot events for which the planning is already in motion, but where clients have hit a snag—more guests than their space can accommodate, no time to plan and execute on their own, or the clients just feel in over their head.
Jordi & CO handles events from dinners for two to cocktails for hundreds. We offer a full range of services from all aspects of a large event planning to the intimate details necessary to do the perfect family Christmas dinner for ten guests.
HP: When someone approaches you with an event to plan, how do you begin to tackle it? What are the primary things to be considered, questions to ask, actions to take?
Jordi: First of all, let me say that I am not just a “fancy party” planner and seasonal decorator. I plan all sorts of events for clients, from quiet family dinners, outdoor “picnics”, birthday parties for adults and children, to cocktails, formal events and weddings for hundreds.
Not only do I design and install holiday decor—Christmas trees, mantles, staircases, and tablescapes—but I do year round decor as well. Many of my clients ask me to come in and help accessorize their home seasonally.
Second, let’s talk turkey: yes, I am a luxury, but I am an affordable one. I work with clients from one end of the financial spectrum to the other. In fact, working with clients on a budget really allows me to become creative, in a different way. There’s an art and a science to knowing where one has to spend money, and where and how to employ smoke and mirrors to create a gorgeous party—or create beautiful decor—on a budget. But when clients give me a “sky’s the limit” directive, I won’t tell you that isn’t tons of fun!
I am lucky to have many returning clients, and eventually I get to know their homes and their styles so well that the whole process is streamlined. For new clients, I tackle it in a fairly systematic way. I get the nuts and bolts out of the way: what’s the occasion—personal, business, nonprofit fundraising; number of guests; style—casual, formal, in between; theme (if any); date, and budget.
If clients don’t know their budget, I can help them formulate one. A solid idea of what they want to spend is essential.
Questions? I ask clients to describe their personal style, how they normally entertain when they do it on their own (if they do), and what their vision is (if any) for this event. With new clients, I also ask them to describe some of the best events they have hosted or attended, and some of their least favorite. I ask for DETAIL. The more I can glean about clients and what they like, the more I can please them.
My professional mantra is clear: showcase clients and their event in a way that looks like THEM. All clients deserves to have their party reflect them, and that is what Jordi & CO is all about. We create events, each unique, whether large or small, big budget or budget conscious, and we make them memorable…
I love doing large events, but my soul is in handling events staged at home. In this economy and in a town like Pasadena where many hosts and hostesses are quite proficient on their own, I might come in for discreet elements: “just” flowers, “just” invitations, “just” decor. I enjoy being flexible and imaginative in helping clients with whatever elements they bring to me.
For decor, we design and install every aspect necessary to create a beautiful home (or office) for the holidays, except outdoor lighting (that is a specialty unto itself!). I personally revel in decorating gorgeous mantles, staircases, trees, and other decor to reflect the architectural style of the home, the personal style of the clients, and the special nature of their home.
And while ideally I would love to have weeks and months to plan a party or to design and install decor, I have done it in mere days when clients have presented such a challenge!
Jordi & CO
Editor’s Note: Jordi has a large array of props, which she integrates when she’s decorating with a client’s own favorite objects or family heirlooms. She will also do personal shopping to achieve the “look” that clients desire but doesn’t have time to do themselves. Don’t have time to unpack the ornaments and decorate the tree? Want a special arrangement for your mantlepiece? Jordi and her team are ready to create, install, and help your holidays be everything you’ve imagined.