Spring Break (Up) Party

SWEET LIFE: Lisa Marie Latino is cheered up by Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro at her surprise breakup bash at Nine in Hoboken. Bottom: Not your typical wedding cake.

IN TRANSITION: AVE residential suites offer flexible stay options that don’t require long-term leases.

Moonshine Supper Club in Millburn sets a swank tone for any celebration.

Relationships sometimes end and people move on. When it’s over—whether it’s a marriage, a steady thing or a fleeting fling—you might be in need of a little mental readjustment and the support of friends and family. Whether you require salve for your wounds or are ready to party hearty in ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead fashion, the cure might be as simple as an evening at home with your girlfriends, or as lavish as a ladies’ night out, complete with humorous invitations and a specialty cake. No matter how you slice it, one thing is certain—tasty food, luscious libations and your very own cheering squad are bound to lift your spirits.

We’ve got tips for selecting a fun venue, a personal story from one newly single East Hanover resident, ideas for streamlining baggage (literally), and setting up a posh home that reflects the reinvented you, after the party is over (no pun intended).


Kick up your heels

Book a party space (or the entire dining room!) at your favorite restaurant or nightclub. Choose a hot spot like Moonshine Supper Club in Millburn. You’ll need plenty of room to spread out, especially if you plan to open gifts, take photos or dance. Serve a signature cocktail such as a Ginger Sidecar or a Lemon-tini (see recipe at parkplacemag.com/lemon). Moonshine offers a generous and creative menu of specialty cocktails.

The restaurant has a hip vibe with its gray/black walls, plaid banquettes, smoky mirrors and jazzy, upbeat music that set a sophisticated tone for an evening of fun. Start with the bar menu, which features innovative small-plate dishes—truffled gnocchi and meatballs, and paprika-spiced shrimp. Just for laughs, assign cute breakup-themed names to the hors d’oeuvres you choose (Single-Again Sushi, Better-Without-Him Blintzes and I-Will-Survive Shrimp). To make it a night to remember, check out all the breakup and divorce party favors at etsy.com, and visit your local party store.


Let them eat cake

When Danielle Sturniolo heard that her friend Lisa Marie Latino had canceled her wedding to her fiancé of three months and boyfriend of three years, she decided to throw Latino a party to “get her back out there into the wild.”

After Sturniolo, a cake decorator at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, shared the East Hanover resident’s story with her boss, television personality Buddy Valastro, the “Cake Boss” offered to create a specialty cake for the big event. Neither Valastro nor Sturniolo had designed a breakup cake before, but they were excited to invent something fun.

Sturniolo invited Latino’s closest girlfriends to a surprise party at Nine in Hoboken to celebrate her newly single status as well as her new television production company, Long Shot Productions. “When we broke up, I thought, ‘If I have to start over, I’m going to start over completely,’” Latino says of launching her own business. “I could worry about me now and create the life I always imagined having, prior to him.”

Latino’s friends released her back into the dating scene by giving speeches, sipping cosmopolitans and noshing on New American appetizers. “I was genuinely surprised,” she says. “They wanted to celebrate me, which I thought was ridiculously nice.”

Admittedly, the breakup cake stole center stage. The three-tiered dessert, a vanilla pastry with lemon French crème and fresh raspberry, was sculpted with a large slice missing from each of its tiers. In lieu of a traditional happy-couple cake topper, a scorned brunette bride triumphantly kicks her groom to the bottom tier with all his belongings strewn about.

The party and cake reveal were featured last summer on an episode of Cake Boss. Latino maintains that the special dessert was just “icing on the cake.”

“How can you look at that cake and not be cheered up,” she laughs. “It was just awesome.”


Reinventing Your Home Space

If the greatest logistical challenge posed by your breakup was having to retrieve your toothbrush from his place, consider yourself lucky! But, if you’re experiencing a separation or divorce, it’s obviously more complicated. You may need to downsize after the marital home is sold. But scaling back doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. In fact, some recently divorced people find it freeing and cathartic because downsizing forces them to finally get organized.

Transition can be uplifting or intimidating, depending on your outlook. If you’re not sure where to begin, there are plenty of local experts at your service.

“Divorce is an emotional time, so it’s important to start fresh, without a mess,” says certified organizer Patricia Diesel of Basking Ridge (908-766-9670; keepitsimplenow.com). “Keep only the items that are true to your heart. Purging is a rebirth that can help us manage some things when we have no control over other things. It’s a freeing experience to let go when we are holding on so tightly to things, especially our emotions.” Diesel will also recommend storage options such as basket filing systems, pantries and closets.

If you decide to install closets and other custom space solutions in your new space, contact Angel Martin, co-owner of Affordable Closets Plus (800-823-4227; affordableclosetsplus.com).

“When people downsize to condos and smaller homes, they typically exchange their walk-in storage for reach-in closets that are only two-feet deep with a single hanging rod. Clients are always surprised that we can reconfigure and maximize the space to double their storage,” she says. “For added convenience, we also recommend using your main closet only for seasonal everyday use.”

Still have stuff to part with? Call Drew Trautman of 1-800-GOT-JUNK (1800gotjunk.com). His team

will pack up your unwanted items, load them and take them away. “Downsizing can be an emotional event for clients, so we stay very flexible,” says Trautman. “Our staff is trained to be sensitive to homeowners’ special needs. And we don’t hire anyone unless we would feel comfortable sending them to our own grandmother’s house.”

Finally, once you’ve moved into your new space, depend on Jodi Topitz, founder of we2me: Women in Transition (we2me.com) to help you ease the transition in style.

“Downsizing or reinventing your current space can be extremely challenging. But the proper use of color, furniture placement and room accessorizing can positively impact your emotional well-being as you navigate through changing times,” says Topitz. “Your home should be comfortable, make you feel good, reflect your personal style and fit you well.”

She starts by giving each residence a “space lift” by repurposing existing furniture, accessories and art. The end result enhances and reflects clients’ personal style and promotes a positive state of mind, creating a perfect space.


Moving out and moving on  

Breaking up is hard to do, especially if you’ve cohabitated with your significant other. AVE’s residential suites in Somerset and Union can ease the shift into single life. “Our suites include all of the comforts of home, from linens and kitchenware to a full-size washer and dryer in every residence,” says Lea Anne Welsh, AVE’s president.

Its flexible-stay options are perfect for singles in transition. There are no leases, only day rates, for fully furnished one- and two-bedroom corporate suites. “Those who are newly separated can move into apartment-sized accommodations for a month or more, without a long-term commitment, while their life is uncertain,” Welsh says.

Relationships require a lot of give-and-take. So this is the time to take advantage of your new solo status and focus on you. AVE’s state-of-the-art fitness center and massage therapy suite will have you looking and feeling single and ready to mingle.

This time of transition also is a great excuse to explore social relationships. “We provide opportunities to meet and greet new friends regularly at our resident receptions, movie nights under the stars and health and wellness classes, such as pilates in the tranquility garden,” Welsh says.

For more information on AVE residential suites, visit kormancommunities.com. —Deborah Carter, Ashley J. Cerasaro, Susan Brierly

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