TEXT BY CHRIS CHRISTEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL JOHNSON
Party hour was closing in, and Jeanie Carson was feeling the pressure as she hobbled to her master closet and sized up her shoe inventory.
A fashion crisis was looming: What shoe does a stylish hostess wear when one foot is in a cast?
Jeanie nabbed a black stiletto, slipped it on her right foot and grabbed her crutches. After a half-dozen steps, she faced a crushing truth: A high heel wouldn't work.
"I've never worn flats with party clothes in my life," she lamented.
A tall black boot with a slight heel saved the day.
Abandoning the crutches, she hopped on an electric scooter parked in the master bath and steered it toward the foyer. The doorbell rang, and she beamed as her first guests walked in, gave her a hug and then exclaimed, “Jeanie! What happened to you?”
It was a familiar refrain as Jeanie and her husband, Ron, welcomed 200 or so guests to their home in The Ridges for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and conversation.
The invitation list for the mid-December party included longtime family friends, interesting new acquaintances and assorted business associates and colleagues, including those from Ron's investment firm, Carson Wealth Management Group.
The eclectic mix made for a fun night of introductions. Inspired Home Omaha met the hosts' landscaper, manicurist, hairdresser, housekeeper and interior designer in about the span of an hour.
"Jeanie always makes you feel welcome," said friend Cheli Hull as she leaned down to kiss Baylee, the family's adorable and highly social Yorkiepoo.
The invitation specified casual attire. "I always want people to feel comfortable," Jeanie said.
She wore a sparkly one-shoulder black tunic with black leggings and silver accessories. Ron wore jeans and a crisp button-front purple and white checked shirt.
While Ron positioned himself in the kitchen and hearth area, Jeanie worked the front room – from the seat of the motorized scooter. “It's killing me to stay in one place,” she quipped.
“Jeanie definitely is the life of the party,” said Kathy Silvey of A Catered Affair, Jeanie's go-to caterer.
Hairstylist Kathleen Victor and husband James, like several guests, arrived with a hostess gift.
Jeanie opened the box and found a crystal oyster.
"You're a pearl in my life," Kathleen told her.
Jeanie reciprocated with a hug.
And this December?
“Yes, there will be a party. We love getting family and friends together,” Jeanie said.
5 Tricks for a Hitch-Free Party
Jeanie Carson loves to bring people together for food, fun and conversation. The Carson family's Fourth of July party is legendary among the 600-plus attendees each year. Here's Jeanie's recipe for success.
Food: Make eating easy and enjoyable for your guests. A broad menu of bite-sized appetizers encourages guests to revisit the buffet for items they particularly enjoyed or still wish to try.
Buffet setup: If possible, set up food stations throughout your home. This helps control congestion and creates anticipation among your guests for that next delectable hors d'oeuvre or dessert.
Beverages: The Carsons have found that fruit-forward wines please the broadest range of palates. For their 2011 party, they poured Altamura Sauvignon Blanc, Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Montelena Zinfandel and 94574 Brand Sauvignon Blanc. Beer drinkers had their choice of Lucky Bucket, lager and Bud Light. Jeanie encourages at least one non-alcoholic signature cocktail for non-drinkers in the crowd.
Serving help: Do not allow yourself to be tied to the kitchen. Your No. 1 job as host is to visit with your guests and make sure they have a good time. Hire or recruit helpers to take coats, serve drinks, replenish food stations, etc. The Carsons' caterer operated with a staff of five on party night.
Ambiance: Candles are a must. They help create a warm, inviting atmosphere. Background music is important, too. The Carsons prefer smooth jazz or soft rock for cocktail parties.
WHO DID WHAT
Exterior holiday lighting: PDQ Landscaping
Interior holiday decorating: Barbara Coffey, a friend of the Carsons
Floral arrangements: Rose McCormick, Beyond the Vine
Catering: Kathy Silvey, A Catered Affair
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