As the world slowly starts to reopen, the forgotten art of party planning is becoming relevant once again. But maybe you’re feeling a little rusty after all this time off. Thankfully, Party by Numbers is here to help you gather gracefully—with minimal thought or effort.
If you’re looking to host a minimum of 8 people at your place, a few fast and easy questions from their website will get you a customized, stylish bureau with absolutely everything you need delivered directly to your door: food and drink, plateware, even the ice.
Billed as the “Swiss-army knife of entertaining”, the patented PxN Cart contains 13 compartments along with a step-by-step manual and style guide. It serves as the cocktail bar throughout the function. And after the guests have departed, a dedicated team comes to pick it all up with an emphasis on simplicity and sustainability. Absent are the plastic wrappers and assorted single-use trappings of many a hosted event. Pricing ranges from $110-$190 per person, depending on the breadth of the food options you prefer.
The New York City-based concept is the brainchild of creatives Nicky Balestrieri and Luigi Tadini, in conjunction with catering duo Bob Spiegel and TJ Girard of Pinch Food Design. Forbes sat down with the founders to learn more about how the project was conceived and who the intended audience is.
We’ve seen the emergence of rentable party services and tablescapes in the past couple of years – What sets PxN apart from other rentable party services?
Nicky Balestrieri: “To be honest, this was part of the impetus of the project. Rentable tablescapes are great – who has a set of 16 fabulous theme-specific things lying around for Mother’s Day? The problem with what is offered in the rentable tablescapes is that it only addresses one type of event – meals, leaving out the tough stuff. Meal planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, liquor store run, ice run, florist order… I could go on. When we set out to make Party by Numbers, we realized that we had to do more for the experience marketplace. We wanted our customers to order a whole party – cuisine, cocktails, rentals, service ware, decor, lighting, music, scent – from one, easy-to-use shoppable destination.
“What’s more, is that we wanted to make it sustainable. So, the cart that serves as your elegant bar for the party is the delivery device, and when you are done, you simply put everything back into the cart for pick up (no waste and zero fuss). Party by Numbers is in a class of its own in terms of what is offered to our customers because it’s truly a full party ready-to-go.”
Who is Party by Numbers for?
“Our customer is the host: the at-home entertainer, the event enthusiast, the company party planner, and the venue operator who wishes they could do what we do. It’s as much a fun Friday night with friends as at the solution for small-scale special events like gallery openings, real estate showcases, small weddings, and trunk shows because it’s a stylish, comprehensive, and affordable way to entertain. More broadly, today’s consumer insatiably craves personalization without wanting to invest the time needed to create it. Working remotely, raising a family, and maintaining our inherent social nature leaves little time to ideate, design, plan, organize, cook, pour, serve, and ultimately – host. Party by Numbers addresses the growing demand for more intimate experiences, a unique opportunity that has particularly illuminated itself during these pandemic times.”
How have you developed menus and dishes that reflect each cart theme?
Bob Spiegel: “Over my 35 years as a chef, I have made over a thousand differently-themed menus. These six Party by Number’s looks are right in my wheelhouse because I have been fortunate to have eaten extensively in each of our themed countries. It took months to balance the menu flavors and colors, with crispy always being the end goal. Ensuring that heat, acidity, sweetness, and bitterness showed up in predictable and surprising places is always fun when designing a menu. I want to picture someone’s eyes light up when they take a bite. Then, since all our food is displayed in a party setting, each item needs to stand out independently or as part of a group.”
With your outstanding catering chops, tell us how you developed dishes that last all party long?
“For health and safety reasons, catered food is pre-cooked when it arrives at the party. It is perfectly simmered, mixed, seasoned, and roasted. All we ask is that a few items are warmed, so they keep that blissful state. Through experience, much like packing for a picnic, we have learned which food performs best over time. All of our menus have were designed around this learning. For instance, instead of making and tossing a Caesar salad, we spike a half gem lettuce head and garnish it with all types for crispy sunflower seeds and grated parm.”
Speak to how you designed each food item as the perfect bite – what makes for the perfect party food?
“Do you know when you arrange your food on your fork with the perfect marriage of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, mushroom sauce, and peas? It might only happen 3-4 times during your meal, but it is true satisfaction. We make our hors d’oeuvres with that in mind, the perfect proportions, crunchy, silky, aromatic, and spicy, all hitting you in different parts of your mouth. Like our figs in a blanket, spicy merguez, steeped figs, crunchy puff pastry, and pickled fennel. The perfect bit.”
Where does PxN stand with its sustainability and eco-practices as a business?
TJ Girard: “Partying can be frivolous but doesn’t have to be wasteful. So, we built Party by Numbers as a sustainable business. Our initiatives improve processes throughout the entire life of your event – from the upstream supply chain through our daily operations and to the party itself – we achieve our goals by using sustainable food + beverage, sustained carbon neutrality, and a 100% zero waste pledge. By partnering with James Beard Foundation 2020 “Humanitarian of the Year” Zero Foodprint, we’re also looking ahead, funding the future of sustainable agriculture so that organic + responsibly sourced produce doesn’t have to be a luxury.”
How did you source all the assorted items on the cart? Can guests purchase them?
“After years of sourcing on our travels and walking the aisles of many a design show… we’ve gathered a vast collection of artisans and vendors from all over the world. So when we pinpointed the destination inspirations for our first six looks, we started curating within the group of international companies we’d worked with over the years and then sprinkled in new artisans we found specific to Party By Numbers needs. We plan on selling these items in the future but are currently focused on getting carts to partiers!”
As summer approaches, does PxN work/operate outside the home?
Luigi Tadini: “Utility drove the design of our cart. During the months of development, we thought of every possible use occasion our hosts could dream of and how to serve them best. With us all looking to the summer ahead, we wanted to create something that could be enjoyed al fresco just as easily as in a New York City flat without compromising style. Everything needed for a party fits in the cart. This means the ice for your pre-batched cocktails to a fully charged wireless Bose speaker. Our ‘off-road’ wheels and protective coat ensure our team can roll in the fete to your backyard or the roughest of Hampton’s terrains.”
Where do you see Party by Numbers coming to life?
“For many years, Nicky [Balestrieri] and I have always dreamt of creating a direct-to-consumer product—a desire we shared with our partners at Pinch Food Design after years of creating extravagant parties for every type of brand. The spark behind our idea for Party by Numbers was ignited during the pandemic when we were all grounded at our homes, and the precious moments that typically benchmark our lives came to a halt. We decided to create something that would bring our unique formula of entertaining to people’s homes and applied our collective expertise in the industry to simplify the process and make it accessible for all hosts. We see the versatility of the product and one that can serve consumers in the privacy of their homes for a small dinner party or a birthday celebration to gallery openings and trunk shows. In all cases, we see the hosts as a customer and an event enthusiast who shares our belief in the value of experience.”