Chris Plavidal

Entertaining

How to Throw a Party Like Kimberly Schlegel Whitman

The always-put-together lifestyle guru covers everything from dress codes to truffle honey.

The entertaining expert and owner of Halo Home tells us how to host with the most.

What is the first thing you do when planning a get-together? I always check the social calendar to make sure there isn’t another big event on the same evening.

What are the elements of a good party? An eclectic group of guests, easy access to drinks, and something clever to spark conversation.

With descriptors like “festive cocktail” showing up on invites, how should a host address the dress code? I love the effort to provide cute descriptions for attire, but truthfully, I think guests prefer that you take the guesswork out of it for them. I’d rather have a straightforward guide than a guessing game.

Which items should a host or hostess have on hand at all times? A fun playlist, candles, Champagne, cheese, crackers, and truffle honey.

illustration by Clare Mallison

Any specific party tricks you pull out at every gathering? I always try to do something connected to the guest of honor. It can be simple or silly, but I find it’s a nice way to honor someone. I’ve created a baby-shower menu based on a mother-to-be’s cravings. (We made it yummy, I swear!) Once, I sought out a birthday girl’s favorite Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine served chilled, which introduced the guests to new things.

What about the neighbors? If you’re having a big party, it’s nice to drop off a baked good or a little token with a note letting them know your block might be a bit busy.

Is there a best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding entertaining? A friend of mine in Paris is famous for his dinner parties, and one evening after his guests sat down, he realized the caterers forgot to put out the napkins. They thought fast, filled a tray with linens, and went around placing the napkins on everyone’s lap. My friend made up a story about how Napoleon always placed his napkins that way and he wanted to bring it back. Everyone oohed and ahead. He admitted he was joking, and no one ever forgot it. The advice: Just go with it and be creative. Don’t let formality get in the way of a good time with friends.

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