A Mississippi native, Kimberly Nelson Hill came to Washington with political aspirations and party-planning prowess after being bred on the principles of gracious entertaining, family recipes, and the fine art of the thank you note. Today, as the owner of Party Bee Events, she uses her Southern charm to help Washingtonians host fabulous fetes for guests of all ages. Before your next celebration, check out this NoVA mom’s ideas for party planning and local family fun.
You started your career as a Senate staffer. How did you make the transition from politico to Party Bee?
The Party Bee was really just meant to be a creative outlet that would help friends throw parties. I started keeping a blog nearly 10 years ago and had business cards printed up. That was about the extent of my hobby business. I never would have envisioned this being my career! I followed my heart and what made me happy and it has made all the
difference. I often refer to this as my calling and I don’t say that lightly. I truly believe my business is divine and the answer to a prayer I didn’t even know how to pray.
From food to decor, your Southern roots are a Party Bee
staple. What does Southern Hospitality mean to you?
I was raised in Mississippi, The Hospitality State. My mother and grandmothers taught me everything I know about entertaining and being a gracious hostess. The idea of Southern hospitality and opening your home to others is so intimate and special. It is all about attending to every detail and really putting in the effort to show others that you care. Whether you are on the farm or in a grand home, Southern hospitality is about sharing the best of whatever you have with those around you.
You recently opened The Bee Hive, a party design studio in Arlington. What will visitors find in this space?
A mess! But a beautiful mess. That’s because The Bee Hive is where all the buzz happens each day. I store all those goodies you’ve got to have to pull off a perfect event – tables, linens, china, glassware, custom colored napkins, and cases of fresh tonic water. Plus, I have my treasured collection of client thank you and congratulations cards I’ve received on a bulletin board. One sweet friend gave me a sign that reads: “Be Kind, Work Hard.” That’s hanging on the wall next to the staff aprons that we check in and out for each party. The BeeHive is just open by appointment and special occasion, but I do host pop-up shop events there (think: Southern-style ice cream social, book signings, and mini dinners-for-two). To learn more you can follow me on Instagram and tag what you love about Southern entertaining with the hashtag #thatswhatIlikeaboutthesouth.
What’s your favorite party-planning tip for parents looking to host a fabulous fete for their little one?
I have three little boys and with the last one, I finally started following the rule of having as many guests as the age of the child. It’s so civilized and meaningful. I also do lots of “adult” parties with a kid component, and I find that having a zone for kiddos to graze at a popcorn bar or at a snack bar is popular. I make sure that there are things at their
height, and chairs of their size. That way, kids can draw on or sticker the little popcorn boxes and get to pick their own snacks. I recommend putting fruit and veggies into individual serving cups so that little ones can grab two apple slices and a carrot stick that’s already pre-portioned and their little fingers don’t touch everyone else’s serving. Make sure to have lots of tubs of wet wipes and paper towels around as well as hidden trash bags so you can triage throughout the party and keep the area looking nice. Hiding things under a skirted table is the way to go. You can keep extra crackers under the cheese board area and juice boxes under the ice tub.
In addition to your party concierge services, you’re mom to three sons. What’s your favorite way to spend time with them?
We LIVE outside! I love watching them scooter in the street, ride bikes, play in the sandbox, participate in soccer and t-ball, and garden. We do it all together. I also love the simple one-on-one moments with each of them. Graham loves to play cars and transformers, Oliver loves building anything, and Hayden loves legos and pokemon. So while I am a pretty girly only child, I’ve learned all sorts of boy things from my sons, like the difference between a digger and a backhoe. Actually, I still don’t understand the difference.
It’s family date night! Where will we find you and your brood?
That would be Sunday night when I am tired of cooking and we go to Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Cafe. The kids watch the tortilla machine and I have a margarita. Or, we just have family night in the yard and grill out and eat in with our neighbors.
What is your favorite part about being a parent in the DMV?
My husband and I are both very keen on raising our kids like we grew up. He is from a small town in Texas and I am from Mississippi. We love the other families and friends up here and the connections we have with fellow transplanted southerners. I am also lucky to have sweet mom friends who are trying to find their own way and resist all the busyness and competition that creeps from our career lives to our parenting lives. That’s the best part of being a parent up here. It’s the friends who also came here and are now trying to form a little community where we can share all the wonderful reasons we came here in the first place and now all the wonderful reasons we (and our kids) are making it work.
Do you know a super-cool parent? Tell us about them in the comments section below.