Friday, November 30, 2012

Anatomy of a Party: Jazzy Holiday Luncheon

I've got the Christmas spirit now after attending the Jazzy Holiday Luncheon on Nov. 30 at the Westin. The 32nd annual fundraiser for the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture is so popular it was sold-out. The 500 guests were some of Charlotte's leading arts patrons, business people and philanthropists. It was fun to see them dressed up in festive attire.

Here are videos from the event:

Here are some of the details that made the event special. They might just inspire an idea for your next party.

Registration began at 11 a.m., but guests weren't seated in the ballroom until 11:30 a.m. To entertain them while they mingled, Santa roamed around the crowd and asked guests what they wanted for Christmas. It was cute to hear them joke around with Santa about their Wish Lists. Johnson C. Smith University President Ron Carter wants a Jaguar. I hope he gets it. He has been especially nice this year.

The center booked the fantastic band A Sign of the Times. In the lobby beforehand, three of the band members performed, then later joined the full band on stage. That was a nice touch.

Once the doors were opened, the ballroom was decked out for the holidays, but in a sophisticated way because the colors were red, white and black. Soft red lights created a lovely glow, and a red damask print was projected onto the ceiling.

The menu included food that was in season - an absolutely delicious sweet potato souffle with grilled chicken on top that came with an an optional maple syrup glaze. The dessert was pecan pie.

A highlight was the presentation of the Gantt Center Legacy Award. This year, awards were given to Belk for its commitment to philanthropy; community leader and retired arts educator Jeanne Brayboy; and On Q Productions’ artistic director Quentin “Q” Talley.

All the recipients kept their acceptance speeches brief, amusing and sincere with meaningful appreciation of how important the center is to all of Charlotte.

Jessica Graham of Belk made the crowd giggle when she charmingly worked in that she hoped the guests would add a little modern, Southern style to their holiday (Modern. Southern Style) is Belk's catchphrase.

Q brought the crowd to its feet after his spoken word poetry rap that included a line that made everyone bust out laughing: "(This award is) for those of you who say I love what you're doing, but I haven't seen you in the theater yet." That's a great reminder that it's nice to tell people things, but it's actions that really count. 

And retired educator Jeanne Brayboy quoted a famous poem about how if you have two loaves of bread, sell one to buy hyacinths to feed your soul. "My soul is fed every time I visit the Gantt," she said.

Seeing what everyone is wearing is always a perk of going to social events. Here are just a few of my favorite looks from the luncheon.

Portia Kee is wearing a handmade shawl from Dubai that a friend gave her as a gift. She had a sprained ankle and couldn't wear her normal heels, but her flats looked so cute. You'll never believe this, but they're fancy Crocs. 

I loved Rosa Williams red jacket with military accents and the way she paired it with bright golden yellow.

The orange red of Amanda Gray Williams' dress from the Limited looked modern.

Award recipient Jeanne Brayboy's granddaughter Jiana (being held by her mother, Cheryl Brayboy) looked so adorable. 

Herb Gray's outfit from Paul Simon was so stylish.

And Felicia Gray looked stunning in this Isaac Mizrahi suit. 

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