LOCAL Houston | The City Guide December 2016 - Page 32

ART THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT Rebekah Johnson Serves Up Her Party Tips At 11 years old, Houston’s premier event designer/florist REBEKAH JOHNSON threw her first party for classmates. It was a haunted house theme, and held in the family basement. Passageways with sheets, ghosts, goblins and a witch next to the old furnace greeted the guests. This was perhaps a hint at what her future held. Johnson started her professional career in Houston with legendary party designer SARAH BERGNER. After working and training with Sarah, she moved to New York to experience floral “boot camp” -- working with RENNY REYNOLDS, ROBERT ISABEL, ANTHONY TODD and many other event superstars. In 1995, she returned to Houston to open Bergner and Johnson Design with Sarah, and took over the entire operation in 1997. Since then, her gala and event clients have included The Society for Performing Arts, The Houston Symphony, The Houston Ballet, The Children’s Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, The Contemporary Arts Museum, The Menil Collection, Jones Hall and many other Houston organizations. Here, she shares a few tips for entertaining at home, which is something else she’s really good at. What’s your idea of a fun party at home? Invite a group of close friends, then make something I have never cooked before. Once I decide on the dish, I create a theme to go with it, which includes appetizers, cocktails and decor. What’s the secret of being a good host/hostess? Having a good time yourself so guests can relax and have a fun time. Greet them with cocktails and music and the rest just falls in place. What’s the most common misperception about entertaining? That everything needs be to perfect or the way other people entertain. Nothing in life is perfect and I find happy accidents happen when you let go of that concept. Just because your friends pull out the silver and formalware, that is not the only way to entertain. Make it your own – if you are casual, use funky platters and have it reflect your personality. I recently did a punk rockthemed cocktail party. I had so much fun finding albums to put appetizers on and had the waiters in vintage punk t- shirts. What does a good host or hostess always have on hand? First aid kit– maybe that comes to mind because of punk rock theme and safety pins. :) Extra appetizers just in case dinner is a bit late, linen and cotton napkins, a mix of drinks including non-alcoholic, candles (you never know when power can go out,) pizza place on speed dial just in case the experimental meal goes south. How do you know your party’s been successful? When they stay very late and laugh all the way to their rides home. Who’s your entertaining role model? Sarah Bergner, who taught me so much, and Martha Stewart because she makes me try to overachieve. See Rebekah's secret recipe online at www.localhoustonmagazine.com. By Rebekah Johnson Photography by Max Burkhalter 32 L O C A L | december 16