Meet Adette Contreras, Erica Taylor, and Liz Castelli, the founding partners and tastemakers behind Tinsel & Twine, a New York City based event design shop. The shop specializes in floral styling, signage design, specialty light installation, prop coordination, and planning for all types of events. They are committed to making every celebration a truly memorable experience infused with details that reflect your unique style and story.
The trio met at George Washington University, as part of an a cappella group called The Vibes and bonded for life over three part harmonies. Fast forward a few years later- they found themselves in New York and longing for more fulfilling and rewarding job that combined all their passions and Tinsel & Twine was born. Since the holidays are upon us, we caught up with the ladies for little Q&A and holiday party planning tips.
First things first-where did the name of the company come from?
We wanted a name that embodied our company’s vibe and aesthetic. It took us a few bottles of bubbly and a whole legal pad of ideas, but ultimately we all agreed that Tinsel & Twine reflected the right balance of sophisticated sparkle and playful charm.
How did you guys come together to form the company?
As with most good things, it happened at happy hour! The three of us were chatting about creative projects and our current careers. Then, it occurred to us that our various fields of expertise would fit together to form the perfect event design shop brand.
There are three of you – what do each of you do?
Our business model works so well because of our combined, very varied skill sets. Liz has a background in metalwork and floral design, and insider knowledge of the wedding and event industry. Adette has a background in graphic design, art direction, photography, and illustration, plus an unnatural passion of all things paper. Erica’s background in account management and biz development makes her a ringer for maintaining strong vendor relationships and setting client expectations.
What is the company’s design style/aesthetic?
As individuals, our tastes can vary, but with Tinsel we always circle back to our main strands: clean, polished, sophisticated, and bad-ass. Whether we are working on a branded event for corporate clients or a tented gala for 300 in the Catskills, we always ensure that the end product epitomizes our brand aesthetic.
You have collaborated with Estee Lauder & The Kings County Distillery, been featured in New York Magazine and The Huffington Post, and just produced the wedding for one the founders of Foursquare–how are you guys dealing with the success of the business and still holding down freelance day jobs?
The pace of our growth from year to year still surprises us. Even with being in business for 3 short years, we’ve caught some early press and expanded our business from little events to larger business partnerships, and there’s always something new. We have found that our greatest asset is problem-solving and making sure that we’re supporting one another. Each of us brings a unique strength to each project, and that trust and partnership is what keeps us nimble and gives us freedom to be creative.
If each of you could pick a person to plan an event for – who would it be?
Liz: My mother-in-law. At 64 (don’t tell her I told you), she lives in fire-engine-red doc martins and has bleached short hair. She is an inspiration to do whatever the hell you want – always.
Adette: Dorothy Parker. A poet, screenplay writer, and defender of human rights–she was a classic figure in the 20’s and 30’s New York scene, always armed with a witty line and a glass of champagne.
Erica: Saint Diane von Furstenberg. Besides being impossibly, timelessly stylish and an O.G. party girl, I love that she uses her fame to help spotlight important charities and causes. Total win-win.
What are some your top tips for entertaining?
- Start planning earlier than you think you need to. The event or holidays tend to creep up so quickly and everyone’s social calendar gets crazy regardless of the season. Minimize stress by reaching out to guests early. (That also means start addressing and/ or sending out those save the dates or invitations soon!)
- Find ways to put unique spins on traditional décor. Try stacking plain donuts on a cake platter, easy, spectacular, and reminiscent of the French croquembouche. We are also really into brass candlesticks with unexpected color tapers.
- Make it personal. Handwritten place cards with a sprig of pine or rosemary are a simple way to add extra special detail to your dinner table.
- New York City apartments can offer some unique space issues. If you don’t have room, decorative accessories look just as festive when clustered in decorative bowls, lining a shelf, or accenting a flower arrangement.
- And on the topic of space limitations, consider holding a party at your favorite restaurant or bar. Most places offer group specials and won’t mind if you add little decorative flourishes to the space. Plus, you won’t be left with clean up!
- Don’t feel beholden to conventional color palettes and patterns, consider hot pink or cerulean or origami paper or …
- It takes a lot of skill to balance a large plate and a cocktail. Serving bite-sized serving of food like mini caprese salad skewers, tiny tacos, and oysters allow guests to mix and mingle without juggling plates and glasses.
- Send your guests home with something a naughty and nice like a mini bottle of bourbon.
- In addition to the usual bar options, for the winter holidays, offer festive hot beverages for a different kind of holiday cheer. Think: hot chocolate with Bailey’s, hot apple cider with rum, hot toddies, and mulled wine. Or create signature or seasonal drinks like Pimms cups or bourbon spritzers.
- No backyard or rooftop? Talk to your favorite neighborhood spot to reserve their prime outdoor space. (We love rounds of rose on the patio at The Runner in Clinton Hill.)
- A party without champagne? Erica’s granny wouldn’t stand for that. Who are we to argue? Greet guests with mini bottles of bubbly. Bonus points for customized labels and decorative straws.
- For a chic and unexpected detail serve frozen fruit ice cubes. Raspberries, blueberries, and orange peels are great for a splash of color.
- Summertime for Liz, growing up in Sayville, Long Island, meant time for lobster and escargot. Dishes like these are a decadent way to keep guests involved during dinner parties.
- Have handheld fans on-hand for particularly steamy nights. We love the look of the traditional palm frond fans from our Adette’s motherland, the Philippines.
- Style your space with potted plants and small flower arrangements that guests can take home at the end of the party.
- Coordinate with a local shelter or retirement home to donate leftover flowers to spread the joy around.