“It’s not just a birthday party or fundraiser—when [Minneapolis City Council Member] Lisa Goodman entertains, it’s a happening,” local attorney Amy Johnson says.
Goodman’s late-winter birthday parties and summer fundraisers have a reputation as the best in town. Her philosophy of “great food, free drinks, and no speeches” has made the soirées successful throughout her political career.
Faces in the crowd may include fellow City Council members, CEOs, developers, mayors, and a US senator or two. Even the fundraisers are not really work events for Goodman, so everyone sets aside politics, and grabs a cocktail.
Venues for Goodman parties have included Mount Curve mansions and Kenwood homes overlooking Lake of the Isles. Some are so happy to host the parties that a few have even remodeled their spaces to accommodate the guests. One fundraiser had a backdrop of a marble-lined pool with dancing water jets, a feature Caesar’s Palace would be proud of.
With hundreds of guests at the fundraisers, a team of valets is always at the curb, and someone just inside the door offers a drink and welcomes guests into the party.
Goodman skips the speeches, preferring to mingle with her guests, and give each one a personal connection.
“Lisa’s got more than charisma,” longtime friend Karyn Schubert, who flies in from Chicago for the parties, says. “She knows how to read people, and pair them with right people based on their interest in wine, pets, or community. That’s why everyone has a good time.”
The food is always great, of course. At one notable birthday party, the all-dessert buffet was draped in fantastic color, from red whoopie pies to polka-dot brownie pops. The birthday cake was a spectacle, shaped like Goodman’s white poodle, Sadie, a frequent guest at her parties.
Goodman’s preferred caterer for the desserts is pastry chef Susan Spight, who has a keen eye for detail. “Who else could make potato chips dipped in chocolate into a luxury item?” Goodman says.
With unique venues; beautiful and tasty food; and a host with a big personality and a welcoming spirit, it’s easy to understand why Goodman’s party invitations are coveted.
“Bring unique people together, keep what works, and improve what doesn’t—it’s that basic,” Goodman says with a smile.
Lisa Goodman’s Tips on Party-Planning
• Guest List “If people don’t show up or call with regrets after two invitations, I stop inviting them—unless they invite me to something. My personal and political party lists keep growing every year.”
• Invitation The invitation itself sets the mood for the party, so she looks for unique designs and beautiful paper. No evites from her.
• Venue For a fundraiser, “I like to showcase some of the loveliest homes in my ward. I always choose a home, because it is more personal. We can pick a caterer, and bring in liquor.” For her birthday party, “My party outgrew my home, but it is still in my building!”
• Decorations “I rely on florists I trust to do their jobs well. I don’t get caught up in the details, but the bigger and more unique the better.”
• Catering “My birthday party is just desserts. Susan Spight makes everything colorful, unique, and taste great. It feels like a party when her food shows up.”
• Bar Goodman prefers real glassware: “It is essential—no plastic and no styrofoam.” Included in her list of bar must-haves are Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc and Bombay Gin with diet tonic water. “They’re my favorite beverages to have on hand, especially for a summer fundraiser.”
• Parting Gift “It’s a must-have sweet reminder of the party on the way home or the next day.” The sweets are often worked into the theme, such as chocolate peanut-butter “Puppy Chow” for a party with a dog theme.
Lisa Goodman’s Party Essentials
Sweets & Desserts
Planning & Design Susan Style
Inspiration for Invitations
3048 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls.
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc & Bombay Sapphire Gin:
Hennepin & Lake Liquors
1200 W. Lake St., Mpls.