no-nonsense rules for entertaining

As I look around my immaculate house (cleaned from top to bottom this week in preparation for Friday's low-key Easter dinner), it dawns on me how phenomenally motivating entertaining is for whipping one's home into shape. I definitely enjoy having a tidy household (it's so lovely and refreshing! yay!!) but there's just something so enticing about showing off a clean, beautiful space to friends and family that kicks my butt into gear a whole lot sooner than if I were just here enjoying it alone.

You only need a few key elements to have a lovely party:

A crazy gorgeous space:   A grove of trees with chandeliers intermingled . Swoon.

A crazy gorgeous space:  A grove of trees with chandeliers intermingled. Swoon.

1. A beautiful space. It can be beautiful by nature alone, or a blank space beautified by a lovely tablescape and some mood lighting (hello candles or string lights!)... most times I'm a big advocate for entertaining in the home. All you need in that case is a smart dose of spring cleaning and your own keen sense of interior design! Instant party venue!

 
Making miniatures is a surefire way to dress up basics, like  beer & burgers ! Where can I get my hands on little mugs like those?!

Making miniatures is a surefire way to dress up basics, like beer & burgers! Where can I get my hands on little mugs like those?!

2. Something to snack on and sip. This is one of those golden areas of Southern hospitality: No one need ever go hungry or thirsty on your watch! You certainly don't have to produce a full meal (unless it's a classic dinner party... more on those later!), but a little something salty and sweet never hurt anyone. And as far as libations are concerned, you can go big (a modified open bar, composed of whatever you've got in stock) or go "homey":  a pitcher of sweet tea or lemonade or peppermint punch will do the trick just as well! Always have some bottled or filtered water on hand and when in doubt, make a pot of coffee!!!!!

 
 Swanky lounge space  with axis furniture, perfect for fatigued guests:)

Swanky lounge space with axis furniture, perfect for fatigued guests:)

3. Adequate seating. Nothing will drive a person to leave early quite like tired legs. Cocktail tables are perfectly acceptable (and aesthetically pleasing) for setting down drinks and chatting with friends, but have SOME seating available for most guests, especially if you anticipate the party going on for an extended period of time. (This is quadruply important when inviting elderly or pregnant guests!) Lounge area, anyone?

 

4. Background music. A warm, inviting soundtrack puts guests at ease and leaves no early arrivers feeling obligated to break up the awkward silence. Keep the volume low enough to still carry on a conversation without shouting, but not so low as to have people questioning, "Am I hearing things or is Mumford & Sons trapped inside your coat closet?"

5. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL:  The perfect conglomeration of party guests. Make sure to fit your invite list to the occasion (Intimate dinner party? Invite a few great conversationalists who mesh well with others! You'll be spending quite long hours in a confined space with them! Casual barbecue on the bay? Request the company of a rousing group of friends, many whom could play volleyball into the wee hours of the evening!). You can usually invite a few more guests than would fit perfectly in the space because odds are some RSVPs will come back as regrets, but if you're notorious for throwing fabulous parties (and people ditch their previous plans to attend your shindigs), might as well stick to the fire marshal regs.

Cheers to a  rousing group of partygoers ! (Taken from KDE Styled shoot with Morgan Trinker.)

Cheers to a rousing group of partygoers! (Taken from KDE Styled shoot with Morgan Trinker.)

 

Other little things for bonus points:

A cake! (What brings more festivity than cake, besides cake AND champagne? Those two things are one of the most classic combinations in history. Throw away the rest of the rules if you have these two, because they're all you need for a good party!)

These  striped table runners  totally upgrade the look of pretty patio tables!

These striped table runners totally upgrade the look of pretty patio tables!

Beautiful linens. Linens give such a personalized, detailed little touch. They can really dress up a table, disguise an unsightly hunk of furniture, and make any old party seem luxe and formal! (A white furry throw can act as a delightful luxurious linen at a winter wonderland party!)

 
Some  legit crystal coupes  are SO much more festive than plastic disposables! (Plus, they're eco-friendlier. Win-win!)

Some legit crystal coupes are SO much more festive than plastic disposables! (Plus, they're eco-friendlier. Win-win!)

Real china or crystal! Everyone knows you mean business when you whip out the fine china. And how much more glamorous do you feel holding a crystal champagne flute than a plastic 8-oz cup? Exactly.

 
My favorite party theme right now? It's all  Gatsby . Chandeliers, champagne, art deco, flapper hair... give me all of it!

My favorite party theme right now? It's all Gatsby. Chandeliers, champagne, art deco, flapper hair... give me all of it!

A THEME! I will always have an ineffable fondness for themed parties... There is just something so whimsical and fun about decorating with a particular big-picture-concept in mind, dressing up in something out of the ordinary, and having something interwoven in every little facet of the party. It's like revealing a secret! Divine.

 

There you have my no-nonsense rules for entertaining! It's really all just complete common sense, but I also think of it as a perfect science. My very favorite science of all!

KD

monograms and prints and trays, oh my!!!

If there is any Southern in your blood, you inevitably have an insatiable desire to monogram each.and.every.thing.you.own. None other than (Tennessee native) Southern belle Reese Witherspoon has said it better:  "My rule is, if it's not moving... monogram it."

It's no wonder that weddings are the perfect occasion to shower brides with all things monogrammed:  they're (probably) obtaining a whole new set of initials! There is something undeniably exciting about unwrapping a shower gift and seeing that new last name letter engraved or embroidered... it gives a sense of permanence ("OhmyLawd, y'all, we're REALLY getting married!") and unity. Some say it's bad luck to monogram anything you use BEFORE the wedding (including ceremony programs -- I'm looking at you, Martha Stewart), but I'm more for practicality than superstition:  God willing and the creek don't rise, you're going to have those new initials for the rest of your life! (What's an extra month or two to exercise them?)

One of my favorite friendors (friend-vendor) from Making Things Happen last year, Mandy Volpe, just released a new line of gorgeous monogrammed Lucite trays that would be the PERFECT shower or hostess gift!  [DISCOUNT CODE BELOW!] As a self-professed entertaining addict, these are Southern belle-approved and absolutely fabulous. They are ideal for bringing new husbands breakfast-in-bed, storing pretty trinkets on your vanity or dresser, providing a lovely backdrop to place that unsightly remote control, keep your notebook and favorite pen on your drab-looking desk, or even to mount on your wall to show off those pretty initials!!! (I have a friend who's done this and it's gorgeous! Instant Southern wall art!)

Mandy's trays are in a myriad of beautiful patterns and colors. Shower your BFF with a tray in her wedding colors, or win the best-bride-ever award by gifting your bridesmaids with something they'll actually USE:  a lovely monogrammed tray in their favorite hues!

BONUS: She even has a DARLING "Happy Birthday" tray. For those of you with children (or just an ageless sense of wonder!), this would be perfect to present with a birthday biscuit (complete with a lit candle and singalong!).

DISCOUNT CODE:  Use the code "openingday" to get 20% off anything at her Etsy shop!

Congratulations for launching this new branch of business, Mandy!!!