Paulson Among New Yorkers Getting Merry at City’s Holiday Bashes

  • Maureen Chilton joins daughters at NYBG Winter Wonderland Ball
  • `Nutcracker,' Hanukkah Disco Party offer younger guests cheer

To all the losers who didn’t attend a holiday party this weekend, here are three you missed, with just enough detail you can pretend you were there.

1. The Winter Wonderland Ball at the New York Botanical Garden

Cocktails with a choo-choo garnish

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Some twenty-somethings dress up like Santa and go on a bar crawl, a ritual known as SantaCon. Others put on ball gowns and tuxedos to sip cocktails alongside an elegant holiday train show. From which set will emerge the next masters of the universe is anyone’s guess.

Suffice it to say the New York Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderland Ball is a more uptight gathering, though by evening’s end the 410 guests were getting quite loose on the dance floor.

Up close

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

That dance floor, during normal Holiday Train Show hours, is known as the Gingerbread Cafe, which indicates the primary audience for this annual attraction. And if this particular group had any idea how crowded the show can get with the truly junior set, maybe they’d have paid closer attention to train tracks dotted with miniature New York landmarks, from the sparkling lions poised outside the New York Public Library building (refurbished with support from Steve Schwarzman), to the giant Penn Station with trains whirring underneath, to the luminous glass of the garden’s own Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

However, the guests provided ample visual distraction themselves, especially the women. Some wore those body-hugging dresses by Herve Leger, a sponsor. The places favored to peruse them: under a bridge near the bar and next to the show’s re-creation of the 1964 World’s Fair and a bar.

The World’s Fair vignette

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Charlotte and Sarah Chilton, second and third from left

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The guest list draws in part from the grown children of NYBG patrons, meaning Sarah Chilton, a jewelry designer, and Charlotte Chilton, a student at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, got to hang out with friends and their mom, Maureen Chilton, the chairman of NYBG.

"Gardening is about passing everything down, and philanthropy is about passing things down too," Mom said.

2. The Nutcracker Family Benefit at New York City Ballet

Ready for business

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

"It’s going to get nutty -- no pun intended," said Andrew Nussbaum as his family arrived at the David H. Koch Theater for the Saturday afternoon performance of "George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker."

Taking one’s children to see this particular ballet is a solid holiday tradition in many cities, for many families. Doing so Saturday afternoon as part of a benefit for the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet not only meant seeing a Nutcracker battle with mice and a candy-filled intermission, but also a party afterward to meet the dancers in their costumes.

Sasonah Huttenbach signs autograph books

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

At the table

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

At their tables, guests found lunch boxes decorated with pom poms, and an autograph book to fill with signatures of cast members, many of whom the child guests count as classmates, friends or siblings.

Andrew Nussbaum smiles as his daughter Daisy greets fans

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Nussbaum’s daughter Daisy played a Polichinelle, one of the sweet sprites who emerge from Mother Ginger’s big skirt. And when Daisy arrived at the party, she was no less shy.

"I’m supposed to mingle, Dad, I’m not supposed to be with you," she told him.

At least one non-dancer was sought out for an autograph: that was hedge-fund manager John Paulson, whose wife, Jenny, was a benefit chairman, along with Donya Bommer, Monique Cunningham and Heather Hoyt Georges.

Jenny Paulson snaps a photo of some cast members

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

3. The Hanukkah Disco Party at the Jewish Museum

At work

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Madison Avenue Sunday evening was bustling with shoppers and holiday-party revelers. Donald Marron and his son William, and James Vanasek and his son Jack strolled past St. James’ Church where the Christmas Pageant was letting out, depositing well-dressed little ones on the sidewalk holding gold paper horns.

Up the street, the Jewish Museum threw a Hanukkah Disco Party with 9-year-old DJ Alden spinning, volunteers helping kids build dreidels and waiters passing traditional and sweet potato latkes.

"What’s on your dress?" asked Doreen Remen. "Flowers," said the young guest.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Before entering the disco, younger guests were interviewed on the red carpet by Claudia Gould, the museum’s director, and Art Production Fund’s Doreen Remen. When the question "Who are you wearing?" didn’t resonate, they switched to, "Who dressed you?" "Daddy," replied one boy. Dad hosts of the event included Jonathan Crystal, Zach Altschuler and Richard Hurowitz.

Jonathan Crystal, far right, balances microphone and lighting the menorah

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
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