Inside Bette Midler’s Legendary Hulaween Bash

We spoke with designer Douglas Little about crafting the annual celebration, which benefits Midler’s New York Restoration Project

When it comes to Halloween, there’s a seemingly endless list of parties to attend—but Bette Midler’s Hulaween fête is certainly the one not to miss. Held annually to celebrate Midler’s New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a nonprofit that has been dedicated to bringing much-needed public green space to New Yorkers for more than two decades, this year’s celebration happens tonight at the Waldorf Astoria, hosted by Kathy Griffin. (Marc Jacobs will serve as the costume contest judge, and Darlene Love will be the music act.) We sat down with event designer Douglas Little, who’s been decorating the bash for years, to ask him about his inspiration for the party, as well as what advice he has for hosting your own. nyrp.org

Architectural Digest: How do you determine the theme each year?

Douglas Little: I usually start conjuring ideas early in the year and try to have them ready for Bette to review in June or July. The Divine Miss M likes to see wit and whimsy in the party decor, so it’s my job to take the traditional ideas of Halloween and shake them up. I draw inspiration from film and cultural references and see where it takes me.

AD: How do you make the decor feel fresh and different every year?

DL: I start with big ideas and cook it for a while until it reduces down to a usable broth. For me the devil is in the details, and I want the decorations to surprise and delight the guests. One of the ways that the decor stays fresh and fun is that Bette loves to see color, color, color, so this in and of itself is a great way of keeping things looking fresh and different.