Favorite Entertaining Tips from House Beautiful

Once again (and back by popular demand), here is a list of entertaining tips from House Beautiful magazine.  The magazine solicits suggestions from their “experts” and favorite designers, event planners, and bloggers for advice about how to host a successful soiree.  I, in turn, am here to share my favorites with you.  My editorial comments are added, at no extra charge.

If you want to see my last list of favorites, click here to see my post from a few months back.

Happy Entertaining!

Classic Gin MartiniGet the Party Started

Start with a cocktail.  “Any occasion becomes special when you offer a house cocktail.” – House Beautiful

“Serve appetizers family style.” – Lidia Bastianich, TV host, chef/cookbook author.

Bring on the Grub

“Don’t wait for late guests.  People resent being hungry.”  – Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer

Which was followed by this message to guests:

“Don’t be late.”  – David Serrano, co-owner Downtown and Outside Downtown

Don’t Cancel

“Don’t cancel a dinner invitation the day of the dinner unless you are on an IV drip in a hospital.”  –  Harry Slatkin, fragrance guru

Be Wary of the Buzz Kill

“Don’t tidy up the table too soon.  Once the plates are cleared away, often so is the mood.”  – Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, abloomsbuylife.blogspot.com

But it’s a good trick if you’re trying to get your guests to go home.

Music, Man

“Music should be just loud enough so that people have to talk above it slightly.”  – Alexa Hampton, designer

I could see that this could get interesting if any guests are hard of hearing.

Place CardSeat Guests Wisely

“People with big personalities are best in the center of the table.  They can help carry the conversation from that place.”  –  Michael S. Smith, designer

This really works. I don’t want to mention him by name, but our good friend (whose name starts with a P and rhymes with eater) is the big personality guy that we put in the middle of it all.

Mix and Mingle

“If you’re throwing a cocktail party, have a few less chairs than people.  This will force your guests to circulate and mingle the good old-fashioned way.”  –  Brad Ford, designer

As kids, we called this game musical chairs.

Check In With Guests

“Ask people ahead of time for their food preferences:  Do they eat meat?  Do they drink?  Do they have any food allergies?  It sounds stupid but believe me, nowadays these can ruin a dinner party.”  –  Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, designer

Anything Goes

“Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Anything goes these days with your table decor and menu, so have fun.”  –  Tobi Fairley, designer

I think I could be friends with Tobi.

Be Ready When Guests Arrive

“Plan ahead!  There’s nothing worse than greeting your guests while you’re still trying to light the candles, turn on the music, and get dressed.”  – Todd Alexander Romano, designer

No one needs to see you in your bathrobe before dinner.

Seat Couples Separately

“Separate couples when seating a dinner.”  – Monique Lhuiller, fashion designer

My guess is that it doesn’t take much for Monique to tire of her husband.

Freeze Your Candles

“Stick your candles in the freezer for a couple of days prior to using them.  The freezing will eliminate most of the messy dripped wax all over your furniture.”  – David Stark, event producer and designer

Have Drinks Prepared

“Nothing is worse than a long wait for a drink.  Drinks should be plentiful and easily accessible, with a couple of good seasonal options.”  –  Barry Dixon, designer

Plentiful and easily accessible cocktails.  Amen.

Keep It Casual

“Don’t ever make it feel formal — it’s such a snooze.”  – Jonathan Adler, designer 

I can hear the Brits scoffing from here.

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