Get Ready To Party — And Spend Some Money

The New Year is the time to party and recently at New York's famed Cipriani restaurant, a group of real estate brokers were hard at play. Office parties are rites of December, but the real estate party's lavishness is a sign of the times.

Parties these days are popping like never before and renowned event designer Preston Bailey is doing his part.

"I think the great thing about this party is the element of surprise, that it is in a brownstone in New York City," he said showing off some of his recent handiwork to Sunday Morning correspondent Serena Altschul.

Bailey built a tent in the backyard of this Manhattan home and created a small and sumptuous room for holiday entertainment. His team is preparing a luncheon for 42 guests.

"As you walk in the entire thing is like this, you're transported to this rich environment with a lot of richness and I love that," he said.

And so do his celebrity clients. He planned the weddings of Donald Trump and Liza Minnelli. Bailey's events are floral and opulent, and that's just the way he likes it.

"I never got into the simplicity thing," he said. "I don't know how to do simple. I love being dramatic and over the top. "

Since time immemorial, mankind has been asking "where's the party?" Ancient Rome had its share of fun. The emperor Nero entertained in a hall with a revolving ceiling which misted its guests with perfume. Louis the XIV threw extravagant feasts at Versailles.

It took a while for America to catch on, but it did. Truman Capote's Black and White Ball in 1964 is regarded as the party of that century. In 1989 Malcolm Forbes flew his guests to Morocco to celebrate his 60th birthday.

The Roman-themed birthday party that former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski charged to his company cost a million dollars. Of course, events like that have made corporations party-shy, but for the rest of us, the celebration goes on.

"I think they've only gotten bigger and more elaborate in the last 20 years," Lisa Hurley, editor of Special Events magazine, said. "I think that's due to the influence of magazines such as InStyle that show readers what incredible celebrity weddings look like as well as the influence of the internet."

Not to mention television. The airwaves are filled with party and wedding shows like the Style Network's "Whose Wedding is it Anyway?" There is also MTV's outrageous hit, "My Super Sweet 16," which features teenagers whose parents are wealthy enough to throw the extravagant parties which sometimes include celebrity guest appearances.

The program is controversial, but it and other shows share a fascination with a common theme: big celebrations that cost really big money.