Pop Culture

It’s Party Time!

I’ve always liked Dina Manzo, formerly of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and now star of her own HGTV show, Dina’s Party. She always seems so calm, regardless of what is going on in her life. That’s why she’s the perfect host of a party planning show; you need someone who is serene in the face of adversity, because you know parties always have at least one hitch.

On last week’s Dina’s Party, Manzo turned a fancy New Jersey home into Las Vegas for a birthday party. The kitchen became a buffet with the same gorgeous glass flowers that are featured in the Bellagio hotel (although these didn’t cost millions like the real thing!). Crystals were draped from the ceilings, just like at the Cosmopolitan hotel, and the backyard felt like a real Vegas pool with posh cabanas all around. I can only imagine the price.

Like all HGTV shows, Dina’s Party gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how each event is planned, where they get the props, how they come up with ideas, etc. I like the team that supports Manzo, and so far, I haven’t howled in terror when it’s time to show off the finished project (like I do during a lot of other shows). If I was in New Jersey and I had tons of money at my disposal, I would totally call Dina.

I actually went to an elaborate party last weekend, which had to have cost at least $20,000. Was it a wedding? A 40th birthday? A 50th anniversary? Nope. It was for a 9 year old, and it was just as over-the-top as her 8th birthday.

The girl is a friend of my niece, and because her brother had a soccer game at the same time, I told my sister I would take her. Last year’s theme was a circus, and this time around, it was Candy Land. For the sake of privacy, we’ll call the girl Sarah.

The party was held in a community center’s main room in a fancy private neighborhood. The second we walked into the room, we were transported to the land of my favorite childhood game. Hanging from the rafters were giant sparkly gum drops and lollipops. One entire wall was covered with glittery candy cane letters spelling out “WELCOME TO SARAH’S CANDY LAND!” Another wall had a replica of the Candy Land board in front of it, complete with cardboard cut outs of the characters. I could barely contain myself from running away with King Kandy.

On one side of the room was the food, which included a buffet with sliders, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and other kid food staples; a candy bar with every single candy known to man plus marshmallow kebabs and a sour candy powder station; and a Hawaiian shaved ice station. On another side there was a woman putting feathers and tinsel in the kids’ hair (I was so tempted to get some tinsel) and another woman doing face and body painting (yeah, I gave in and got matching pandas with my niece on our arms). Party-goers could also make their own cupcakes (which came home with them in customized to-go containers) and bracelets. Next to that area was a small arcade and the DJ, who played all the latest hits, along with a giant jumper. The tables had enormous centerpieces, which were vases filled with gum balls and sparkling lollipops.

I was in awe of everything. When I was a kid, my friends had fun parties, usually held at the roller rink, Chuck E. Cheese, or the park. I had an awesome 7th birthday with a Little Mermaid theme, which I still think was the greatest party of my lifetime, but it was certainly nothing like this. The funny/sad part was, the kids all seemed rather blasé about it, like they knew it was coming after last year’s extravaganza. Did that event make them jaded? Oh well; I was impressed enough for everyone.

So, have you watched Dina’s Party? What’s the best shindig you’ve ever attended?

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

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