As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, so does the need for holiday parties… and we could all benefit from learning how to throw a fabulous seasonal bash, no? Cue Bonnae Gokson, an international style icon and the founder of Ms. B’s Cakery, SEVVA—one of Hong Kong’s most recognized destination restaurants—and C’est La B Cakery in Hong Kong. This Asian socialite also has the additional pedigree of being part of the luxury fashion scene for a long time working at Chanel, Prada, and with her sister, Joyce Ma of Joyce Boutique.
This month, on October 24, Gokson is preparing to release her second coffee table book, entitled “Weddings, Butterflies & The Sweetest Dreams.” This couture-oriented publication will inspire brides-to-be, wedding professionals, and everyone interested in the intersection of fashion, beauty and design. The book will take readers on an emotional, multicultural journey of real weddings around the world, feeding their imagination through exquisite imagery, creative brilliance and a celebration of love in all its forms. Bonnae sets the scene for the most incredible wedding one can dream of, be it in a rustic barn, a palatial Indian nuptial celebration in vibrant colors worthy of a maharani, or a traditional Chinese ritual festooned in red, inspiring readers to embark on the most important day of their lives as they create memories that will last a lifetime. The book—which seamlessly blends art, parties and fashion—also includes a foreword written by Vera Wang and Iris Apfel, both dear friends of this international hostess with mostess.
Though her forte is weddings, Gokson is adept at throwing any and all types of fetes, which is why we simply had to get her tips on how to throw the ultimate holiday bash. Get ready: It’s time to take notes!
- It’s always a tough job as hosts to spark a conversation amongst guests. I think it’s always fun to have each guest briefly introduce themselves and then say something about how they met the host. It at least gets the conversation started and often takes off from there!
- I always like to curate a playlist for any party I am hosting, but I often like add a surprise act to add some pizazz to the party. I plan it so that it’s in the midst of the dinner or at the tail-end. In the past, I have had a Broadway singer dressed up in a chef uniform and pushing a dessert cart out while he serenaded the guests, a drag singer crooning away to guests and even an a Capella group who would be like waiters to perform in my dinners. The choices are endless and are such a nice added treat for my guests
- I collect plenty of plates and cutlery sets for my parties – it depends on what I am in the mood to transform the room and table into. I think that the art of plating is extremely important. It depends on the type of cuisine and how many courses I’m serving. For example, I have this set of plates that have illustrations of the faces of the top fashion designers of the world. That’s always a fun way to set a table and even sparks a conversation. For a more casual setting, I like to serve a bento platter with a variety of dishes on a tray. I love to play with colors when setting a table. I think it makes the setting more enticing.
- I think it is extremely important to never put strong scented candles at the dinner table, it ruins the overall aroma and can be too strong for the meal. The atmosphere is also important. Never pick bright lights – dim lighting or candles are always best.
5. When picking the menu, I think it’s important to have the meal as balanced as possible. I change up my menu options for almost every party, but my favorites are:
- Warm Angel Hair Pasta with Cambo (a variety of seaweed), chives tossed in white truffle oil topped with Oscietra Caviar
- Butter Baked Half Baby Lobster
- Demitasse of Asparagus, Watercress & Broccolini Soup, which I call Green Soup
- Roasted Wagyu Rib Eye with Four Peppercorn sauce
- Panfried Coral Garoupa with Champagne Beurre Blanc & Manila Clams
- A Mint Chiffon Sponge Cake or Marie-Antoinette’s Crave Cake of chocolate
6. A little something for guests to take home is always nice. I have given little containers of my homemade strawberry and rose petal jam or ginger marmalade in the past, or even tea leaves in nice packaging. I’ve even giving out a CD of a compilation of the music that was played during dinner, which I find my friends seem to love.
7. The flowers I pick for a dinner change seasonally, but my favorites are peonies, peacock tulips orchids, anemones, etc. Having an interesting selection of vases is important. If I use transparent glass vases, I add a drop of food coloring to compliment the flowers. By the time all the candles and votives are placed, the table is glowing and looks stunning.