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Home Advice: Susan Zackin

Holiday entertaining is sure to look a little different this year. Large events have been curtailed and small-scale, personalized gatherings have become the order of the day. Whether working with an event planner or handling the details yourself, Susan Zackin, owner of Z Event Company, offers the following guidelines for honoring holiday traditions while social distancing.

To begin, Zackin suggests visiting sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Partyslate.com for inspiration. Next, she advises making a guest list, as the number of people will determine whether you want to hire a planner, choice of venue, food and beverages. She notes that many people opt for DIY plans to save money but says the savings may be minimal in terms of time and stress. “When you want to be a guest at your own party, hire a planner,” she advises.

Next, choose your venue. Celebrating at home or booking a private room at a restaurant are two ways to come together safely. Tenting an outdoor area so people can spread out is another option. When choosing sites and caterers, Zackin advises giving as much notice as possible in order to get what you want. She designed a website, Eventglossary.com, to make the process easier. Customers can shop its assorted vendors and venues rather than searching individual websites and receive a price quote for the items they want.

Small, budget-friendly affairs don’t have to skimp on distinctive touches. Zackin suggests using things you have: crystal, silver and china add instant luxury. Family heirlooms, mix-and-match tablewares, and centerpieces made with fruits, vegetables or succulents also make an impression without breaking the bank.

While food and beverages are often the largest entertaining expense, good food comes in a variety of price points. “If you’re on a budget, don’t serve prime beef,” says Zackin. Instead, she recommends a menu of comfort food (a popular trend), locally sourced foods and even meal kits offered by local restaurants and grocery stores.

Zackin adds that individual plates with assorted tastings, appetizers in individual containers, and food stations with one attendant provide an extra measure of security in a time where handwashing and social distancing are paramount.

“We’ve all had to make concessions,” says Zackin.  “Cherish the people you can be around and entertain in the most special way you can.”


1. Don’t get stuck on things; go with an open mind.

2. Personalize your small event by incorporating things you have.

3. Working with a professional party planner minimizes the stress and time that goes into an event. For a DIY approach, Eventglossary.com, a division of Z Event Company, offers web-based one-stop shopping by providing resources and price quotes in one place.


New Orleans native Susan Zackin’s experience in event planning spans 30 years. After running her own event business in Florida, she opened Z Event Company in 2014. Zackin specializes in handling all aspects of an event – space, technical, decorative, culinary, entertainment and more. In May, she used her creative know-how to organize a drive-in movie night where locals could enjoy a safe evening out.


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