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When it comes to celebrations, some people know how to host an unforgettable affair. Get some creative takeaways for your next special occasion from Paul Feiten, owner of Paul Feiten Design in Bloomfield Hills who recently held his 60th birthday bash at the historic Colony Club in Detroit.

For starters, invite a mix of people: At this soiree, there were close to 200 in attendance including former and current neighbors and fellow members from the Zumba class Feiten joined eight years ago. “I didn’t know what I was doing at first, but it was a riot,” he says. “We all came together at the same time. Everybody connected and we all became great friends.”

Pick a location that speaks to you: “I wanted something different that nobody has been to before in Detroit,” says Feiten who also knew he didn’t want enough seating for everyone. “It gets too spread out. When it gets crowded, they have to interact, so we only had chairs for about half the people. That forced them to sit with different groups.”

Wow them with your welcome: When the elevator doors opened, guests were greeted with Cosmopolitans, a recognizable drink they could grab upon arrival, which alleviates the line at the bar. Tall floral arrangements and votives made a great first impression.

A casual meal offers flexibility and better traffic flow: This setup featured four food stations and a cake from Papa Joe’s in Birmingham. One table had prepared salads that were easy to grab. “People could eat at a table and then go to the salmon station and their seat would be taken by someone else, so they could go to a high top table,” says Feiten. Pasta and carved meats were among the other selections.

Dance the night away: To work off all that food and bring everyone together, a DJ led to some major dance moves including an impressive Zumba routine performed by the class.

Keep it cohesive: With black tablecloths and gold chairs as a backdrop, varied sunflower arrangements with liatrice by Jeffrey Floral Architecture in Troy enhanced the elegant setting. “I knew they would pop in a place like that,” says Feiten. “Sunflowers are bold, casual and seasonal.” They also have a happy vibe, just like the host.

The details make a difference: A container filled with moss and a trumpet vase created a layered look, while a dramatic centerpiece benefited from a tall glass vase. “It didn’t interfere with the people around it, but you could really see the full volume above,” says Feiten. Even the restrooms were embellished for the occasion which was totally unexpected, especially the sunflowers in the urinals. At the end of the night, the florist dismantled the arrangements and gave the blooms to the guests.  

Begin and end on a high note: Save the date cards featuring a black-and-white image of Feiten wearing a birthday hat at the age of 10 let guests know what to expect. At the party, he gave a speech to show his appreciation. “I get energized by people,” says the cheerful host who told his guests how blessed he feels to have them in his life.   

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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