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Rebecca Gardner is known across the high-society event world for the sheer magical, irreverent, and over-the-top parties she designs, both big and small. This festive season, The Dewberry Charleston has partnered with Rebecca and her newly launched e-shop for a holiday residency. Houses & Parties — Rebecca’s celebratory online retail destination known for its seasonal, unique and tongue-in-cheek treasures — will descend upon the mid-century modern hotel and transform the Dewberry’s Fieldshop into a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. This four-day-long pop-up will bring Rebecca’s digital shop to life, offering tabletop essentials, vintage barware, off-beat gifts and outrageously entertaining trinkets. With a roster of clients that includes everyone from Moda Operandi founder Lauren Santo Domingo and to St. Regis Hotels, Rebecca will also lend her expert eye to the property’s interior and exterior décor for the 2020 holiday season. We chatted with Rebecca about these two new endeavors and her distinguished events-meets-interiors career.
Rebecca began hosting intimate digital gatherings at the beginning of the pandemic, and her learning curve benefits us all. “Virtual parties make me uncomfortable. They seem forced,” she says. “When should I speak? What’s that background noise? Is my camera flattering? But I have really enjoyed planning what I call FaceWhine dates with two to three friends. It has been a luxury to have the time to reconnect with old friends and make introductions I’ve talked about for years.”
Now, Rebecca offers up fresh fête ideas and accouterments to the partying public via her new online shop. “It has been a blast planning one party that can be implemented by many people in their own houses. My favorite offerings are sold in a section called ‘Entertainments.’ These little sussies keep a party lively … like party masks, wild hats and party games.” I asked Rebecca if her love of event planning or interior design overpowers the other, or do they work in concert? Her answer speaks perfectly to the name of her shop. “I am sure that a house is a party. Once you make an effort to have a beautiful home, you should share it with your friends,” she says. Everything from vegetable-shaped chocolates to caviar bowls to puppies — yes, actual puppies — is available for purchase on Rebecca’s treasure-trove of a store.
A knack for entertaining seems to be woven deep into Rebecca’s creative DNA. “I have been planning parties since I was a little girl, starting with my birthdays. My 7th birthday party was a fashion show I did down the driveway on the side of my house. I closed the show as a bride in white polyester. A glamorous local TV newscaster played emcee,” she recalls.
Rebecca now splits a busy schedule between New York City, where she conducts most of her work, and Savannah, GA, where she hunkers down with family to enjoy a slower Southern cadence. “Oh, I think my work is distinctly Southern,” she says. “I travel back and forth to New York City with my grandmother’s repoussé and don’t sit down to dinner without a starched napkin. I prefer cheese straws to fussy canapes and old things to new things. I use all the tricks and tips and recipes that I learned from my grandmothers, my mother and her friends. Then, I add a twist.”
People speak to Rebecca’s twists-and-turns creativity a lot, but she stresses the importance of her detail-oriented work ethic. “People are often surprised that it’s about 3% creativity and 97% planning,” she says. “I’m the devil with the details. That is why my parties are a screaming blast. There is NO work left to be done.”
From December 3 through 6, 2020, Rebecca’s dreamed-up Houses & Parties Holiday Shop at The Dewberry will transport visitors and shoppers back in time to the 1960s-era world of sophistication and style. Dusted throughout the pop-up, Rebecca’s team has strewn an array of holiday treasures including ornaments with hand-calligraphed idioms and hand-dyed silk ribbons, custom party hats displayed on colorful forms, blushing lightbulbs to flatter every guest, sugared mice for your coffee or tea, marbled party crackers with costume jewelry, paper crowns, parlor games, and more. To round out this one-stop shopping playground, a home bar will be on display as well as a gift wrapping station for all purchases.
“The Dewberry is one of my favorite hotels in the world. I love the 1960s building and its retro-inspired interiors,” Rebecca tells us. “The thoughtful design and smart details are reason enough to celebrate. It makes me want to tease my hair, wear pink shimmering lipstick and have a martini … or two.” After you’ve snagged gifts for everyone (including you) and snapped a plethora of feed-ready photos, cap off your shopping experience with a stop at Citrus Club or the brass bar in The Living Room for a craft cocktail … you might just run into Rebecca herself! And don’t forget to explore the hotel. Through January 3, 2021, festive décor like fir garlands and a classic 1960s Christmas tree will recast the Dewberry as a destination for nostalgic holiday imbibing. And if you can’t make it to Charleston before the Houses & Parties Holiday Shop is over, you can still enjoy bringing the revelry of Rebecca Gardner’s famous soirees into your own home via the Houses & Parties website.
Thank you, Rebecca, for the delightful chat, and to Houses & Parties for the photos!
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