Pop Quiz With Cleo Wade

The writer, activist, and poet on how she hosts.


January 15, 2020

Nicole Najafi


Paper is the most beautiful. Text is the most practical. Sometimes, I will draw my invite, and then take a photo of the drawing and text that around. Efficient and environmentally-friendly.

I am known for taking a nap right before I have to be somewhere. 

I love florals that feel wild and free. My very favorite florist is Bloom and Plume, a black-owned business based in California. Every arrangement is so beautiful and unique. 

I’m a southern woman- I wear what we call “house shoes” which is a slipper that is worn sometimes with socks at home and occasionally to the supermarket if “we need to grab somethin’ real quick.”

I’m a hugger.

I like red wine. I don’t really drink cocktails but when I do I like tequila.

One of my best friends Mia Moretti is a DJ, she makes incredible playlists inspired by her travels around the world. They’re available in her Spotify. 


Family style. 

Ice cream.

Whatever it is that is making your special night stressful. If buying your dessert instead of making it gives you an extra ounce of self-care or a moment to yourself to relax before your guests arrive….just buy it. 

If your friends are anything like mine, your dinner parties don’t end ’till the wee hours of the morning. I like to have a few bottles of nice wine to start the evening, and then I have a stock of what’s called “end of the night wine,” which is less expensive. 

Be in the mood you want everyone else to be in. Don’t be stressed or grumpy around your guests.

A group of my girlfriends and I used to throw these dinner parties where we would cover the table in Kraft paper and leave water color palettes and markers on the table for them to draw, paint, and write poetry. At the end of the night, the table was one big, beautiful, messy art piece. 

I love attending the Lower East Side Girls Club Gala. It’s usually at an old Chinese food restaurant downtown and there is an epic dance party after dinner.

Any party outside of America. I didn’t grow up in a family that had a lot of money or really traveled. Growing up, I wasn’t sure I would see the world. So any time I found myself dancing in Italy or Japan or Morocco- I felt I was at the best party in the history of time.

One that celebrates young leaders like Little Ms. Flint becoming the President of the United States.

Loved ones.

Email — you can customize really nice ones and there’s no paper waste. For super close friends where I need to know an RSVP pretty soon, I might shoot a little text.

Mostly cook, sometimes cater. 

Yes. I don’t know, but I wish I could learn!

It only takes me seven minutes! It’s often the last thing I need to do, so I’m good!

It depends on the season, but I love anemones, sweet peas, and jasmine for the fragrance. [Other favorites include] cabbage roses, peonies, ranunculus, cherry blossoms, and poppies. I like to get flowers from the Chelsea Flower Market, so I can make my own arrangements. They feel more personal and you can create your language with them — sometimes wild, sometimes more groomed.

Shoes! 1000%

With a hug! I like to offer a drink, too. It’s nice to have little bites out — passed or strategically placed. I’m always starving when I go to someone’s house for dinner, and I don’t want to drink without eating a little something.

I personally like champagne as a pre-dinner drink, but a good tequila or a Japanese whiskey is nice, too. Really, it’s just nice to have options! If I’m doing something non-alcoholic, I like for it to be a bit festive — something infused with fruit and/or fresh herbs.

It’s nice to have a playlist that’s of a certain era. It’s good if it starts out a bit gentle and transitions accordingly through the night.

Depends on the guest list! If most people don’t know each other, I like to keep couples together, so they’re not forced apart.

Family style is really nice.

Frozen wild strawberries with warm vanilla sauce that hardens. It’s not too sweet and it’s delicious.

Good conversationalists at the table are a must. And a good seating chart — no one wants to feel like they’re sitting at the kid’s table.

We used to host a summer party around our daughter, Gray’s, birthday. Everyone keeps asking us to do it again. There’s good music, good food cooked by my brother and sister-in-law, and just all-around good fun!

My wedding!

More simple in terms of color scheme and patterns.

Easy, catered, beautiful, and delicious!

Bad food.

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Nicole Najafi
Matthew Sprout

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