As soon as she sees your space, Dina Manzo starts planning your party. It’s a talent she’s perfected as owner of Designer Affair, a boutique event planning company, and now the former Real Housewives of New Jersey reality television star is bringing it to HGTV with the new series Dina’s Party.
“We want to turn it into a show that helps people entertain out of their homes,” says Manzo. “We do have some over the top elements … but throughout the half hour, you’ll be able to get really practical tips that you can take and apply whether it’s just a nice dinner you’re throwing or a full wedding.”
Over the course of 13 episodes, plus a Christmas special, Manzo’s Designer Affair team tackles everything from a co-ed baby shower, adult prom night and wedding reception re-do to a vintage jewellery launch, clothing swap party and big pink wedding. Sometimes they move furniture around, other times they remove it completely, and every now and then they even throw in a bit of renovating.
The attention to detail starts with the invitation and flows all the way through to co-ordinating the exterior landscaping, staging the powder room and deciding how to fold the napkins.
Manzo and her team start by brainstorming. The goal is to make her vision come to life and she relies on her set designer and carpenter to tell her what is and isn’t possible.
One of her favourites is the episode where a wife throws her husband a high-end Las Vegas-themed party, complete with a faux blown glass art ceiling installation rivalling those of famous casinos. Or, how about the transformation from dining room archway to saloon entrance, complete with swinging doors to set the mood for a western-themed bon voyage get-together?
“I don’t mean to pat ourselves on the back, but every episode is a ‘Who would have thought that?’” comments Manzo. “That’s what my company is known for, doing the unusual.”
In the recent tough economy, Manzo says she is seeing a growing interest in home entertainment. While she acknowledges that most people won’t have extravagant budgets like some of her TV clients, she does offer good money-saving tips on Dina’s Party. For example, instead of buying or renting table cloths, simply go the nearest fabric store and by cloth by the yard, forming a puddle on the floor to hide the raw edges. Tired of the mess when carving a pumpkin for your Halloween Party? Bling it out instead, adhering rhinestones, studs and all kinds of inexpensive decorations available at craft and scrapbooking stores.
“For me, the special moment is when it becomes more than just a party,” says Manzo, noting that they’ve even evoked tears at times. “It’s a feel good network and a feel good show. We want people to turn off the channel when it’s over and really feel inspired and happy.”
Dina’s Party airs Saturday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on HGTV. For a full schedule of episodes, visit www.hgtv.com/dinas-party/show.