Real Parties

Lauren Petit: Life of the Party

From growing up in an entertaining household to becoming a seasoned hostess herself, Lauren Petit has a plan—and playlist—for every occasion.

By Colin Shea Denniston

Mar 2022

Family with two children
Photo by Leah StiefermannPetit’s children enjoy getting in on the hosting action as well. “They love to help set things up and then they talk about it at school. I think they look forward to it as much if not more than I do” says Petit. Purchase Photo

Even while living in a city condo in Chicago, Lauren Petit and her husband, Bud, were always the go-to couple for hosting and events. “I've always been an entertainer,” she says. “When I lived in Chicago a lot of my friends didn't have family there, so I was always the one hosting.” But her entertaining roots run much deeper. “I was raised on it because of my mom,” she says.

“My mom's always been a big entertainer and hostess making everything from scratch. Keeping it simple but making everybody feel welcome.” Now back in southwest Missouri, Lauren, Bud and their two children, Olivia and James, regularly welcome friends and family out to their spacious farm compound.

From Halloween Boo Brunches to spring crawfish boils, Petit is an expert in turning possibility into perfection. For this classic Americana summer barbecue, friends gathered for a laid back, shoes off, come-as-you-are summer soirée. 

table setting
Photos by Leah StiefermannWhile she often assembles her own flower arrangements from what grows naturally around her farm, for this event, Petit called in the help of Moxie Flowers in Nixa. “If there's anything that you can outsource to make your night easier, do it. It will be worth it,” suggests Petit. Purchase Photo
Food truck
Photos by Leah StiefermannIn addition to a full bar, Party Party Co. served two signature cocktails out of their reimagined 1973 Stidham horse trailer, a honey-basil margarita and a peach aperol spritz. Purchase Photo
Photos by Leah StiefermannThe outdoor fireplace is an anchor for year-round outdoor entertaining. “In the fall if I'm having people over, we always have that fire going,” says Petit. “And even in the wintertime we will turn on the outdoor fire and we’ll have our white Russians and we'll decorate.” Purchase Photo
table setting
Photos by Leah StiefermannA close-up of Petit's table setting shows some special details and just how much thought she puts into one of her events. According to Petit, would-be entertainers should "lay out all of those details ahead of time." Purchase Photo
Group in front of house
Photos by Leah StiefermannRather than having a formal seated dinner, Petit encourages her guests to chat, mingle and grab food when the mood strikes them. “It just keeps it where it’s not stuffy. Relaxed, laid-back, family style,” says Petit. Purchase Photo
Girls take photo in front of food truck
Photos by Leah StiefermannKeeping her guests feeling welcomed, well fed and relaxed is always top of mind for Petit. “I let my guests stay as late as they want, I never have a cutoff time on my invite,” says Petit. “I say, ‘Okay, we start at six’ and it goes until we go,” she adds. Purchase Photo
man grilling
Photos by Leah StiefermannWhile her husband, Bud, is most at home behind the grill, Petit laughs that from barbecuing to fire building to last minute cooler refills, he’s her go-to guy. Purchase Photo
three girls with a cow
Photos by Leah StiefermannWhether it’s a musician, a face painter or even live animals, Petit always plans something special for the kids. “I was like, ‘What can I do that's really fun and a little quirky and a little out there?’ Bring this whole zoo out to the farm and let the kids run wild! And the adults loved it too to be honest,” says Petit. The animals came from locally owned Once Upon a Hilltop Farm. Purchase Photo
Slider Thumbnail: table setting
Slider Thumbnail: Food truck
Slider Thumbnail: Firepit
Slider Thumbnail: table setting
Slider Thumbnail: Group in front of house
Slider Thumbnail: Girls take photo in front of food truck
Slider Thumbnail: man grilling
Slider Thumbnail: three girls with a cow

When it comes to entertaining advice, Petit encourages everyone to keep one thing in mind: “Before you even begin to plan your menu or make your list of things that you need for the day, I just want to remind everybody that anytime you have an event, it's not a time to impress. It's just a time to make people feel welcome in your home and just get those people together that you love.” With that in mind, Petit does encourage would-be entertainers to have as many of the details ironed out ahead as possible to ensure maximum enjoyability.

“Of course, you have to be prepared,” says Petit. “You need to have your full menu and your drinks, whether you want to outsource anything, if you want to do a playlist or if you want to have just like a little string band come—lay out all of those details ahead of time.”

For this party, those details included a specialty cocktail truck, a Kudo grill and a petting zoo and horseback rides for the kids—and let’s face it, adults too.