Editor's Note

We Tried to Find All the Ways to Throw a Party in Portland

Our September issue is devoted to helping you plan the perfect bash—for any occasion.

By Kelly Clarke August 27, 2019 Published in the September 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

“Help! I need to throw a party!” That’s the kind of text I get every few weeks from some friend, assuming I can fill in the blanks—where they should have it, who should make the food, and what party band/bartender/cotton candy artist to hire. While I’m delighted that my circle thinks “magazine editor” is a synonym for “fount of knowledge,” the truth is often I don’t have the perfect, well-researched answer at my fingertips. And that drives the Type A reporter in me crazy. So, like I do most any time I don’t know something, I assigned myself (and, by extension, the Portland Monthly staff) a story about it.

The end result of our party planning mania starts here: a cavalcade of amazing ways to fête your friends and loved ones, populated by seasoned, detail-oriented party pros and inspiring ideas for intimate dinners, badass block parties, and unique blowouts at venues hidden on rooftops or in basements of restaurants you thought you already knew all about. This issue includes plenty of other things to celebrate as well: a musical based on the life of the city’s first lady of drag, the resurrection of a historic beach house, a table-flipping Thai-tiki-barbecue bar, and much more.

A side benefit of obsessing over parties this summer? Hearing about parties our staff or their families have actually thrown or attended.

  • Managing editor Margaret Seiler sometimes throws a “New Gyros Eve” party December 31, when she and her husband buy “a cone of meat” and fire up a vertical broiler her brother-in-law found at a Montana auction.
  • Editorial intern Kiva Hanson once hosted a denim-themed “jarty”: “I used jean shorts as décor and had a denim-themed playlist, with Bowie’s ‘Blue Jean,’ Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ with its ‘blue jean baby’ line....”
  • Style editor Eden Dawn’s husband celebrated her birthday with a surprise Murder, She Wrote–themed murder mystery dinner in their backyard: “Invitees dressed as my favorite humans, including 1992 Eddie Vedder, Val Kilmer as Iceman, and Blanche Devereaux.”
  • A friend of senior editor Fiona McCann hosted a 1-year-old’s birthday at Spin Laundry Lounge, “because he really liked washing machines. She put different colors in different washers, and they watched clothes spinning around.”
  • I paid Sushi Land to set up a sushi conveyor belt in my living room for my joint 30th birthday party with my husband. (Sadly, Sushi Land no longer offers this service.)

The connection between these disparate bashes, as well as the scads of inventive ways we found (in our, um, research) to party across the city? They’re all an excuse to share a happy few hours with the people who matter to us most.

And yes, when you text me now, I can totally tell you where to throw a party.

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