How Designer Breegan Jane Throws a Party in 48 Hours
If anyone knows about getting things done on a tight timeline, it's Breegan Jane. As the interior designer for the reboot of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (yep, it's back!), she helps design and build stunning, personal homes for families in just five days—a task she happily accepts. "I'm a glutton for a challenge," she says. "I love doing anything someone says I can't."
Filming the first season of the new EMHE, which premieres this Sunday, February 16, was most definitely a challenge. While traveling to different cities and racing to design homes for EMHE families, Breegan continued to run her Los Angeles design business and be a rockstar mom to her two young sons, Kingsley, 4, and Kensington, 6. "I was known for having my phone attached to my ear at all times," she says. "I'd FaceTime my kids, then try to pick tile for clients in LA. I stopped what I was doing at the same time every evening to call my boys and say goodnight."
It sounds exhausting, but that's how she likes to live. "My life isn't balanced," she says. "It's heavy on all ends. I make sure to find time for everything in my life, and I just do it all to a thousand percent."
One of the things she always makes time for is entertaining. She loves nothing more than having a full house, so she didn't let two full-time jobs, constant traveling, and raising her sons keep her from throwing parties whenever she had the chance. Sometimes, that chance was a mere 48 hours, and Breegan embraced it. "We barely got days off at home, but when we had two days off, I decided to throw a Labor Day party," she says, laughing. "I wanted to see all my friends, and the only way to see them all was to invite them over!"
You don't have to plan a party in 48 hours to live a full life, but you can take notes from Breegan to find more time for fun. Her seven entertaining tips make throwing parties easier—so you can do it more often.
1. Have a designated set of entertaining dishware and only use it for entertaining
"We all have those two platters we bought for entertaining that are down at the bottom of the cabinet and when we finally get them out we realize we lent one to our mom—that whole thing," Breegan says. Not having easily accessible entertaining dishware is a major roadblock to throwing a quick party. Simplify your life by investing in a few catering pieces and keeping them in a separate, easily accessible place. "I bought a few catering tins, serving trays, and serving spoons from a discount restaurant supply store, and I keep it all in the garage—party in a box," Breegan says. When the party's done, wash everything and put it back in its box. You never have to wonder where it is, you never have to run out and buy last-minute replacements, and your party's already packed and ready to go for next time.
2. Keep a small selection of drinks on hand and readily available to guests
"I very purposely put a beverage station in my house for guests," Breegan says. She knew her house would be a gathering spot, and she wanted everyone to be able to grab drinks as they pleased. "I love you all, but I don't need to pour you orange juice," she jokes. She keeps the same few items stocked at all times: two types of beer, a red wine, natural juice boxes, water. "They're part of my regular grocery order," she says, so when it's time to invite people over, there's always something to drink.
3. Pick countertops that are up to the task
When designing her home, Breegan didn't just think about looks. "I made sure my countertops were indestructible," she says. She went with manufactured stone, which holds up to heavy use and is easily cleaned. "They can take any lemon, any pen, any crayon. I've even gotten permanent marker on them and it comes out with magic eraser."
4. Go for a deep sink
Remember those huge sinks from grade school art class where all the kids stashed their paint trays and water cups? That's what Breegan wanted. Her sink is extra large so she can keep her pots and pans contained and do a big wash at the end of the night. "Your sink can never be big enough," she says.
5. Make sure everything in your home has a place—and keep it there
Key to throwing a party whenever you fancy is keeping your home presentable. "It's easier to stay clean than to get clean," Breegan says. "I'm constantly making sure everything in my house has a home. If something new comes into the house, it needs to find its home, and that's where it lives and stays." Every toy has a basket, every blanket has a bin, and everybody knows where everything goes. "I keep my kids responsible," Breegan says. When you keep your home organized, you only have to do minimal cleaning for parties, which makes the task feel more manageable.
6. Let design set personal boundaries.
Sure, it's fun to invite people into your home, but that doesn't mean you want them seeing everything. Breegan added certain design elements to her kitchen to establish boundaries. The aforementioned drink station allows guests to serve themselves (see: "I don't need to pour you orange juice"), and it's out of the way of the rest of the kitchen for easy access. Her bar is oversized, so she added a few brass inlays in the middle to keep it from getting filled with everyone's personal items. "A big counter just seems to get everything dumped on it," she says. "I wanted to separate between where we were prepping and where we were eating." And her personal fridge (she has one for guests) is panel-ready, meaning it's disguised to blend in with her cabinetry. This helps keep people out of her family's food and hides the mess inside. "I have two young boys!" she says. "There are plenty of half-eaten yogurts in my fridge that I don't need people to see."
7. Don’t be afraid to delegate
Put your friends to work! "We all tend to go, 'No, no no. I've got it,'" Breegan says. But letting people help makes the party better for everyone. Give your friends simple, specific tasks for the night. Ask one person to make sure there's a bottle of red wine open at all times. Ask another to refill the rolls when they get low. "You don't have to give them something crazy," Breegan says. "But let them take a few things off your plate."