We all like to see what experts give as pointers in their particular field of expertise–we like to get those insider tips that we can try. Here are some celebrity party planning pointers you can apply to your own entertaining:
“I love having people over and a houseful of friends, but it’s a lot of work. As soon as November rolls around, I pull out all my linens, glassware, and silver and clean, iron and polish them. Then I tuck them neatly away in a drawer or closet, so they’re ready to go when it’s time to entertain.
Little silver cases in various sizes filled with bright pretty blooms make sweet centerpieces and mantel accents. It’s almost impossible for me to entertain without candles. I love them in candlesticks, in glass tumblers, hurricanes, even simply arranged on a plate. I stock up on all sizes at the beginning of the month. I always buy more than I think I’ll need and every year, I use them all! White soy candles are my favorites.”– Mary Emmerling, author, decorator, style editor, and American Country expert
“Setting out your vases or favorite containers a few days before your party helps reduce last-minute worries. Check them for any lingering water lines or spots. Dust with a soft cloth, if needed. (To remove water lines on your vases, soak them overnight in a solution of white vinegar and warm water. A squeeze of lemon helps, too).”– Kate Spade, designer, author of Occasions
“OK, so you don’t want to move the furniture; then rearrange the guests. I do. For instance, I have a very large round table in the country. It seats eight comfortably and ten or more noisily. But when I have only four or five people, I don’t spread them evenly around the table. Instead, I seat them in a crescent to one side, which makes the focus the opposite side of the table, where I have placed the flowers. You might do the same. Or if yours is a big rectangular table with only a few guests, try grouping everyone together at one end, the way it is sometimes done in French country restaurants. This creates a very intimate and convivial atmosphere.”– Lee Bailey, cookbook author, home decor and entertaining expert
“Lighting should be romantic–dimmed and cozy. Who can create a mood in a cafeteria? Unless they are on dimmers, overhead lights should be turned off. Task lights and lamps should be on low. If there is only one setting for a lamp, replace a high-wattage bulb with a low-wattage one, say 25 watts. Remember that when all lamps are on, even at low wattage, all that light adds up.
Get those uplights on. Nothing creates mood and intimacy like shadow. I recommend candles dispersed evenly around the room. The flicker of candlelight is flattering and atmospheric. When in doubt, use more rather than less. In fact, I think you simply cannot overdo it here.” — Christopher Lowell, interior decorator, television personality, author, The Hassle-Free Host
“Consider a potluck. The holiday meal is one of the most stress inducing rituals in American life, but it doesn’t have to be that way. One of my favorite holiday traditions is the potluck. Potlucks take so much weight off the host. I’d recommend having the host make the part of the meal that takes the most time to cook, like the turkey or the pie. Everybody else can bring a side dish, like stuffing or cranberry sauce. Potlucks reduce the work and the expense which everyone can appreciate around the holidays.
Cook what you feel comfortable with. One of the biggest mistakes I see with first-time holiday hosts is feeling the need to cook extravagant meals. You’re adding unneeded pressure during an already stressful time! Plan a realistic menu and practice beforehand. Whatever you make the week before you can freezer for leftovers well after the holidays. Who doesn’t like holiday leftovers?” — Ted Allen, cookbook author and television personality on Chopped and Queer Eye.
“Many of my friends are intimidated by entertaining, dreading the thought of an audience witnessing their latest culinary disaster. But I tend to see the humor in most situations. If things go awry when you are entertaining –and trust me, I have had my share of catastrophes like a dish exploding with all my roast potatoes in it on Christmas Day — take a second, take a step back, and just laugh. If you laugh at yourself, your friends will laugh with you, too. — Lisa Vanderpump, restaurateur, television personality on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, author of Simply Divine