Manzo: Home Parties Growing Trend

Star of HGTV's Dina's Party and Former Cast Member of
The Real Housewives of New Jersey
to Attend Halloween & Party Expo

By Amy Francisco

Home is where the heart – and now the party – is, according to Dina Manzo, host of the HGTV party-planning series Dina's Party and former cast member of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, who will share her event-planning expertise at the Halloween & Party Expo in Houston, Texas, January 29, 2012.

“People are turning back into the home,” says Manzo, who started her New Jersey-based event-planning business Designer Affair in 2005 after working for nearly a decade as an interior designer. “They're going back to the roots of what a party is all about: The people the event is for.” 

Manzo says while the trend of hosting parties and events in the home may
be a result of the economic downturn, for her, it's a good trend. “My favorite thing is to make it about the person the party's for,” she says. “If there's something unconventional there – like a surfboard in the middle of the room if the groom loves to surf – the guests will know the people the party's for, and they love them, so they'll get it.”

Outside-the-box thinking and repurposing items, like opting for a surfboard centerpiece, are ways the recession has impacted the event-planning business in a positive way, according to Manzo. She says there is a definite need to be more creative.

She's also using more everyday items and incorporating them into event décor. “Candlesticks, pillows, crystal bowls that you can fill with all different kinds of things are just a few examples,” she notes.

Although the days of corporate parties with bottomless budgets may be gone for now, Manzo has found that people still want – and plan – their dream weddings and other major events. She finds they are just scaling back in some areas like food. “Instead of people getting filet mignon and lobster, they're getting more chicken and eggplant,” she explains. “I love being able to deliver a fabulous event and still be on a budget. That's probably one of my specialties. Designer Affair is known for being over the top, but you can mix and match expensive with money-saving and have a great result.”

She demonstrates some of her money-saving techniques in her show, Dina's Party, which debuted on HGTV in September 2011. “We're giving over-the-top inspirational ideas, but along the way you'll be able to get money-saving tips. I love doing the show on HGTV because we're showing people how to do that.”

Dina's Party takes viewers into the homes of Manzo's clients, where she and her team transform living spaces into one-of-a-kind party backdrops. In the Season One opener Manzo planned a “Spaghetti Western Bon Voyage” party. The “Italian hoedown" was a blending of cultures into a custom party experience that Manzo created for a New York City news anchor moving to Dallas.

Party planning is definitely all about the people, according to Manzo. “For me, it's about making it more than just a party,” she says. “I find that a lot of men feel like they have to go to events because their wives are making them go, but sometimes there's that moment when they actually get choked up or it touches them in a way they didn't think it would. That's probably my favorite part – taking something that's kind of surface – a party – and making it more meaningful.”

Meet Dina Manzo at the Halloween & Party Expo on January 29. She'll share her favorite party-planning tips with Expo-goers and demonstrate how to create a party tablescape from 1 to 2 p.m., as well as sign autographs from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Learn more about Manzo's event-planning business at

(Photos courtesy of and