Jennifer Aniston Serves ‘Cake’ to Gayle King, Arianna Huffington and Marlo Thomas

Lunch At Michaels

LunchAtMichaelsIt was one for the books today at Michael’s. While the SRO crowd of mavens, moguls and machers was celebrating at full tilt, the joint got an extra jolt of adrenaline when word spread that Jennifer Aniston would be hosting an intimate lunch for twenty as she continues her unofficial Oscar campaign for her role in her latest film, Cake. In case you haven’t heard, Jen goes without makeup (gasp!) and does the whole ‘I can look like a real person’ thing as she portrays a widow and chronic pain sufferer in the film. Today, though, she was in full movie-star mode as she arrived with a bodyguard in tow who stood watch over her table in the corner of  The Garden Room to keep away the curious. This intrepid reporter tried to get a few words with the former Friends star, but when I introduced myself to her handler Stephen Huvane and asked him if I could ask her a few questions about the film, I got a big smile and a “I don’t think so.”

Diane Clehane and Nancy Lee
Diane Clehane and Nancy Lee

Too bad, because I also wanted to tell Jen I think her fiance Justin Theroux was unjustly snubbed by the Globes and SAG Awards for his outstanding work in The Leftovers. Oh well. Among those who were invited to the gathering: Gayle King, who stopped by our table to say hello, Marlo Thomas, Arianna Huffington and one of her daughters. I caught up with Deborah Roberts, who was also on the guest list who told me, “The whole thing was very low key. I kept waiting for someone to make a speech about the film, but there was none of that. Just a nice lunch with some great people.” We’re told Jennifer was gracious to the staff on the way out, but no one dared ask for a selfie or a quick chat. If you want to see some shots of all the big doings,  photographer Kevin Mazur was there to document this momentous occasion, which is sure to show up on the usual sites soon.

I was joined today by Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry.com and Lauren Theodore, vice president, consumer practice, for Steinreich Communications. Our chat seemed particularly timely given the frenzied holiday season, and I was eager to find out how the whole shebang worked when I reviewed the company’s media kit, which boasted some staggering statistics. MyRegistry is the world’s largest universal gift registry that gives users the ability to create a personalized online registry for any gift-giving occasion. Users are able to add any items from “any store in the world,” enabling MyRegistry to be one of the largest barometers of consumer product preferences in the industry. Since its inception in 2005, the company has seen a 55 percent increase in year over year growth. More than 20,000 gifts for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, housewarmings, holidays and more are added on MyRegistry every day. The company’s busiest time, as you might expect, coincides with “wedding season,” running mid-May through mid-October, Nancy tells me, and the site has seen a 45 percent increase in holiday traffic this year. Currently, MyRegistry is getting over 25,000 visitors a day. “We’ve seen an incredible surge in traffic as more and more people are using registries to make it easier for friends and families to shop without having to worry about buying the right gift.”

This is not your run-of-the-mill wedding or baby shower registry, by a long shot. Nancy tells me users are doing all kinds of interesting things with their personalized pages. To wit: couples are registering for cash earmarked for their honeymoon, often showing wedding guests pictures of their exotic dream locale in hopes of getting them to open up their checkbook. “It’s very commercial, but everything that couples do to make it their own makes it feel anything but,” says Nancy. Families are also creating “off  to college” registries for kids, which has become more popular in the last two years. Clever, no? It’s all very user-friendly, says Nancy. “It takes seconds to create a free account, either on a desktop or smartphone. Drag-and-drop interfaces and mobile barcode in-store scanning capabilities make it seamless to add gifts to registries quickly.” There’s also a live feed that allows visitors to see the latest items users are registering for (all anonymously, of course) to serve as an inspiration board for those looking for that perfect gift for that picky daughter-in-law-to-be or status-conscious cousin.