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Meghan Donovan Hosting Tips Gatherings

Throwing a Party? Here’s How to Host a More Magical and Memorable Gathering

Meghan Donovan, the founder of wit & whimsy, shares her go-to conversation starter, her favorite playlist, and more.

By Emma Steinbergs

Picture this: You arrive at the address on the invite, crossing the threshold into a dim-but-not-dark room. Moments after handing off your coat, you’re greeted with a flute full of the crispest Champagne and presented with a tray of hors d’oeuvres that turn out to be just as delicious as they are gorgeous. Flickering candles and fresh-cut flowers combine to create a perfectly perfumed aroma, while vibey jazz plays softly in the background. 

There’s no denying it: You’re at an impeccably planned party. But one key ingredient is required to make this a truly magical gathering, and that is connection. What’s the point of getting all dressed up to stand in a crowded room if not to engage in captivating conversation, make a new friend, or have a good laugh? In our opinion, there isn’t one, which is why all M.M. events focus on fostering connections within—and beyond—our community. 

Just last week, we partnered up with our friend Meghan Donovan, founder of wit & whimsy, to host a shopping meet-up at our Upper West Side store as a way to bring our two communities together. It turned out to be a packed house, abundant with chatter, laughter, networking, and camaraderie—the very definition of a magical gathering—so we decided we had to ask Meghan how she pulled it off. Below, read about how she thinks about hosting, her people-first approach, a foolproof conversion starter, and more.

Community is an important part of both of our brands. How does this inform the type of event you’re hosting?

“I never want someone to feel like they’ve missed out, so I really like having events that don’t necessarily have a schedule or a programming element. I’m very aware that while people might be coming to ‘meet’ me as a content creator they enjoy following, they’re also coming to meet like-minded women. To me, the best part of bringing my community together is meeting people who are not only fans of wit & whimsy but who are also excited to make connections with others. 

I think when you live in a big city, it’s really hard to make friends as an adult. So if there are opportunities for members of my community to put themselves out there and take time out of their days to meet like-minded women, that cultivates a feeling of joy and strength. To me, that’s why I do these events.

Using our event as a recent example of a really successful gathering, I think it’s awesome that a lot of people came alone and were willing to walk up and talk to someone they’d never spoken to before. I also noticed a lot of people who came to shop alone and ended up giving and receiving styling advice from fellow attendees. It really spoke to the comfort and commonalities that exist at the intersection of both of our communities.” 

Meghan Donovan Hosting Tips Gatherings

From your own experiences, what unique magic do you think comes from IRL gatherings versus virtual events?

“Seeing a whole person, which you don’t get over Zoom, is simply irreplaceable. It’s just not as natural to see a talking head, and moreover, it’s really hard to have dynamic conversations when you’re trying to manage several separate screens. In real life, you get a whole organic network of people, and things just flow better. 

I’d also have to say hugs. I remember that time in 2020 when I really missed hugs, and I’m so happy to see that this simple form of human connection is back.

Of course, when it comes to clothing-based events, the physical aspect is crucial. At our event last week, there was such a tangible element of camaraderie that came from women trying on clothes in the dressing room and being willing to just come out and show everyone else what they were wearing. That’s something you can’t replicate in a virtual event.”

Blogger Gathering

Guests of Meghan’s event mingle at our Upper West Side store.

How do you help guests form new, authentic connections with one another?

I always try to get around to everyone personally, because it’s important to me that people feel like they got what they were coming for. I could stand and talk to anybody for any length of time, but I do try to be like, ‘Okay, and who haven’t I spoken to?’

One of the topics that I think is really reliable in terms of generating great conversation, especially if you’re nervous about making small talk, is finding out what area people live in. We all live somewhere for a reason, so we can all talk about it. When we were on the Upper West Side for the event last week, there were a lot of women from the neighborhood who came, so I was constantly saying things along the lines of, ‘Wait, you need to meet these two girls over there who just met, too. They both live in this neighborhood!’ My hope is that those women exchanged numbers, and maybe, they’ll get together in the neighborhood. Personally, I live in Brooklyn Heights, and people often associate that with a very well-known French bakery. We had some of their cookies at the event, and everyone was like, ‘You live in Brooklyn Heights? I love L’Appartement 4F!’ I think especially in a dynamic, dense city like New York, there are so many different neighborhoods we can all connect to.”

How do you get into a “host” headspace before an event?

“I think distraction is key. Try to plan your day so you don’t have too much idle time to spend thinking about your nerves. I like to make sure that my day is really busy up until when I need to get ready, because I also don’t like feeling rushed. Balancing those two elements—distraction and preparation—are what I try to plan for if I’m hosting an event.”

How do you think about getting dressed when it comes to hosting events?

“I always want my outfit to be a representation of my true style. I spent a lot of my twenties chasing trends, so I’m happy to be at a place in my life where I know what’s me. I want something that’s not going to make me feel uncomfortable or require any fussing. I don’t want to be tugging at a shirt underneath a blazer or something like that. I also try to wear something that has an eye-catching element so that people can easily spot me in the room.”

Meghan Donovan wit & whimsy

What physical things are actually worth investing in to make an event’s ambiance feel magical?

“I’m someone who really appreciates beautiful spaces, and I personally prefer a room that’s well lit, airy, and open—somewhere that doesn’t feel like you’re in this dark cavern. You also want somewhere for people to sit if they need to. I think that’s super important when hosting, for the sake of both comfort and accessibility.

Having food and drink is crucial; aside from providing sustenance, refreshments can go a long way in terms of making people feel comfortable. Especially at an event where people are mingling and milling about, everyone feels less awkward when their hands are occupied.

I think a lot of people are nervous to go to events, especially if they’re going alone and they don’t know anyone. I like to make sure there’s somewhere people can head when they arrive, so they don’t feel like they don’t know what to do with themselves. This could be a station for drinks or food, or it could be a station with name tags, which I think are actually really helpful. Aesthetically, I don’t like name tags, but functionally, I love them. When you’re meeting a lot of people, it’s really helpful to get rid of those panicked moments where you think to yourself, ‘Oh my God, I don’t remember her name!’ That barrier ends up preventing a lot of great conversation, so I like to rule out that obstacle up front.”

Magic often involves surprises and unexpected delights. Can you share something that happened during one of your gatherings that wasn’t planned but ended up enhancing the event?

“At last week’s event, there were multiple women who have followed me for a long time and have also become clients of my travel advisory. One woman told me I planned her trip last year, and the other was leaving for Paris in just a couple of days and was trying on a dress for her upcoming trip. It was really lovely to see people who have supported me in my multiple businesses. Those spontaneous connections are so special.

Another example that comes to mind is a meetup in Paris I hosted last December with some of my followers and clients who happened to be in the city at the same time as me. After we all had coffee, I asked, ‘Do you mind if we take a photo?’ The server from the café who was taking our photo commented, ‘You all look alike,’ and then one of the girls goes, ‘Did everyone else get dressed to look like Meghan?’ I looked around and was like, ‘Wow, everyone is wearing an outfit I would totally wear.’ It made me so happy that, whether subconsciously or not, everyone incorporated some of the wit & whimsy spirit into their outfit that morning. One girl was like, ‘These are the boots you recommended in that recent post!’ Another said, ‘I just bought the coat that you’re wearing!’ It brought me a lot of joy that my style is identifiable to the point that people enjoy emulating it and putting their own spin on it.”

Do you have a favorite playlist you like to put on when hosting?

“I love a very upbeat playlist, and I have a few on Spotify, under wit & whimsy. One is called The Pick Me Up, and it’s basically a collection of songs that could make you feel better if you were having a bad day. I actually made it in 2020 when times were dark, and we were spending so much time at home. I had more time to bake and cook, and I was like, ‘I have got to have a good playlist.’ I still turn to this playlist all the time if I’m going to clean my apartment or have people over. It is an instant mood-boost.”

Written By

Emma Steinbergs

Emma is M.M.LaFleur's Brand Manager. She previously worked as an M.M. stylist and still loves thinking through styling challenges and solutions for customers.

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