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Battle of the Lifestyle Gurus

Bon Appetit / March 2016

Lauren Conrad’s ‘Celebrate’ vs. Pippa Middleton’s ‘Celebrate’

Following 2010’s Style and 2012’s Beauty, Lauren Conrad’s lifestyle empire is expanding again with this month’s Celebrate. In 275 colorful, photo-filled pages, see the soft-haired and ever-stylized Lauren Conrad setting tables, shopping for tomatoes, and posing with Champagne flutes. “For as long as I can remember,” she writes, “I’ve loved celebrating.”

Then a strange feeling of FOMO-based déjà vu overcame me: Haven’t I seen soft waves posing with silver appetizer trays? Have I not previously enjoyed too-obvious how-to advice from envy-worthy parties I’ll never be invited to? Did I black out from too many Elderflower Cordials or have I been to this celebration before?

I sure have. The year was 2012, and there were 400 colorful, photo-filled pages, and Lauren Conrad was seamlessly swapped with Pippa Middleton. Albeit brunette, Pippa also likes friends, happy memories, and bringing people together. Pippa also suggests a selection of fun drinks served with charcuterie boards of smoked meats. Pippa’s book is also called Celebrate.

Since you know just where this is going, we pitted these two would-be Martha Stewarts head-to-head to ask: Who throws a better party? Whose perfect party is the most perfect? And who’s more likely to throw a plate if you accidentally have fun the wrong way?

In one corner, we’ve got Pippa and the original Celebrate. She was first, making all subsequent celebrators merely copycats that suck. Pros: Wills & Kate might show up; there are lots of odd Pimm’s-filled British drinks; and you might inadvertently brush up against Pippa’s famous behind. Cons: You’ll have to stomach haggis and fish pie; expect truly awful party games like Egg Jarping or (the very poorly thought-out) Guess My Resolution; and you just know Scotland Yard will throw you out the moment you let loose.

Then there’s Lauren Conrad’s soiree. Pros: No international flights; Spencer Pratt’s not invited; there are more flowers than you’d find at a florist (and she definitely won’t notice if you steal some). And pink! Cons: You may be unknowingly filmed for reality television; plenty of Cali-based mean girls; and for some reason Lauren’s wearing a very embarrassing top hat. Here we go!

Why’d they write/re-write Celebrate?
“Nothing is more fulfilling that seeing [your party] through to fruition…and that’s why I love throwing parties,” writes Lauren. Pippa’s bored a bit and in it for the author cred: “I’ve always loved to write, so it seemed natural to try to combine this passion along with my enjoyment for entertaining.” I appreciate Pippa’s honesty, but the enthusiasm award goes right to Lauren.

Earliest Party Memory?
“I have very fond memories of many of the events celebrated in this book,” writes Pippa without elaborating. If you want dirt, Pippa (and the Palace’s lawyers) aren’t spilling. Lauren, meanwhile, describes when her family invented the surprise party: “Dad formulated a plan that had my mom out of the house,” she explains, and “when she finally appeared in the doorway, we all jumped out and shouted, ‘Surprise!’” Don’t patronize me, Conrad. But you win.

Most Legit Party Cred?
“I’ll feature twelve events—ranging from a simple al fresco dinner to my very own wedding—and show you how you can pull all those basics together into a beautifully executed soiree,” writes Lauren, earning double points for getting extra personal. But then Pippa plays the family business trump card, since Party Pieces was founded in ’87, while a diapered Lauren hosted proletarian play-dates: “This book is designed to be a comprehensive guide to home entertaining, based on my experience in my family’s party business.” A tie, I say.

Best Theme
Divided into Prep and Party, Lauren serves up twelve party types for your party consideration. Among them, Birthday, Engagement, Bridal Shower, Housewarming, Baby Shower, Clambake (?!?), Bachelorette Party, Wedding. Middleton divides hers into four seasons, plus Halloween, Bonfire Night, Burns Night, Afternoon Tea, Children’s Parties, Picnics, and Camping. Pippa wins, for skipping the Clambake for Halloween. That said, expect her costume won’t impress. “A black jumper and leggings or trousers can be embellished,” she writes. “Try adding ears and a tail for a black cat.”

Best Invitations
“An invitation immediately establishes the tone of your soiree while providing guests with the necessary information. It’s a pretty big responsibility!” writes Lauren. Pippa knows invites are a bourgeois task better outsourced. “Get a creative friend to help,” she says, suggesting pretty envelopes. For taking invites uber-seriously, Lauren wins.

Most Creative Decorations
In need of a “happy birthday” banner, Lauren used the “simplest DIY imaginable: cardboard letters, Elmer’s glue, and a ridiculous amount of rainbow-colored sprinkles. Voila!” Pippa’s got the same idea—“make the most of windows by sticking cut-out shapes and stencils on them”—but damned if she’ll pick up a pair of scissors. “You can find all sorts of decorations from party shops and online,” she writes. (Like mine, she means.) Another one for Lauren, for knowing do-it-yourself involves doing it yourself.

Best Appetizer Inspiration
“The idea behind an appetizer board is to offer guests samplings of different flavors,” explains Lauren. She clearly stole the idea straight from Pippa, who long ago noted “a board of charcuterie and antipasti can be put together in minutes and shared at the table.” Both reach lazily for cheeses and meats, and both lose this round.

Widest Drink Selection
Lauren has more choice in more glasses, but hasn’t quite grasped the art of description. Shots are for “one, well, shot,” martini glasses are best for martinis, and Champagne flutes are “typical for sparkling wine like prosecco or Champagne.” Pippa’s against this uppity behavior entirely. “Don’t offer too wide a selection of drinks that require different sorts of glasses,” she warns. The winner’s Pippa, for not blacklisting guests if they use the wrong glassware.

Most Obvious Advice
The aforementioned inaugural surprise party at the Conrad house comes close, but Pippa’s apt explanation of brunch (“one-dish affairs that encompass both breakfast and lunch”) can only be topped by her recipe for ice: “Buy bags of ice cubes, fill trays with water well before you party.” Pippa by a landslide!

Worst impending Party Killer
While Lauren walks a fine OCD-line—“For the record, I have totally banned confetti larger than an inch in diameter”—Pippa’s deep-rooted middle-child psychology is far more uncomfortable. “I know from past experience that it’s important not to have preparations looming over you,” she writes, “otherwise you’ll end up in a flap and resent having to throw the celebration altogether.” Uh, no points, but anything you wanna talk about, Pip?

Best Overall Celebration
After all that, and knowing that none of us will ever attend any of these parties, I count four wins apiece and declare the Celebrates to be a neck-in-neck-in-cozy-chunky-cashmere tie! While Pippa’s book hopes to be “fun to read, practical to use and inspiring to look at,” Lauren’s serving up “a few ground rules, some basic advice and, I hope, lots and lots of inspiration!” Both succeed just fine, as they are the same, and the battle for young lifestyle guru roars on. Bring on another Celebrate! by Blake Lively.