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How to Party Like the Pros

Our Best Designers share their top entertaining-at-home tips.
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How to Party Like the Pros

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Odds are, during the pandemic you forgot how to throw a house party. Or you’re realizing maybe, just maybe, pizza, cheep gas station beer, a Facebook event page, and a Spotify playlist just won’t cut it in your thirties.

We polled the 2022 D Home best designers for their favorite entertaining tips to become, truly, the host with the most.

1. Curate the guest list.

“People have gotten in the habit of entertaining so infrequently, they tend to invite every friend they have. I carefully consider the personalities and interactions. The magic of a party—as in life—is the people.” —Barry Williams, Williams Design Inc.

2. Stage multiple gathering areas.

“Create areas inside and outside for multiple dining tables. I think it’s fun to eat in the foyer, next to the fireplace, or next to a fountain outside.” —David Salem, Salem & Associates

“Strive for an area suitable for a one-on-one tête-a-tête, another for an intimate group of four, and an area to host 24 adults at a dinner party.” —Betty Lou Phillips, Betty Lou Phillips Interiors

3. Clean the rest of your house too.

“New friends always want a tour. So our number one entertaining tip is: Always make your bed.” —Bill Cates and Russ Peters, Peters Cates Design, Inc.

4. Set the mood.

“Dim all the lights and light some candles! Everything and everyone looks great in soft light. I can’t tell you how many parties I go to where the lights are ablaze and it feels more like a visit to the grocery store than a personal gathering.” —Susan Bednar Long, S.B. Long Interiors

“Scent plays a big part in creating an atmosphere. I burn a signature scented candle at the front door and often send guests away with a candle as well.” —Denise McGaha, Denise McGaha Interiors

5. Remember to stock the bathroom.

“Have a well-stocked powder bath with fresh flowers.” —John Marrs, John Phifer Marrs Interiors

6. Mix catering with home cooking.

“We usually only cook the main menu item and then bring in all the sides from some of our favorite restaurants. I bring out my pretty dishes and serving platters, and it looks like we have been prepping all week!”
Tori Rubinson, Tori Rubinson Interiors

“I have one trick. A cheese plate. Get as many odd ingredients and put them in heaps on an old European bread board, and people think you’re a hero.” Sam Sano, SWOON

7. Be yourself.

“Be your authentic self and entertain around what you enjoy. If you are casual, entertain casually. If you like to be formal, bring out the crystal.” Allison Seidler, Allison Seidler Interiors

8. Nothing beats a personal touch.

“I determine my signature drink for the evening and hand it to my guests when they enter. Then I hand guests something sweet in a box tied with a ribbon as they leave.” —Linda Fritschy, Linda Fritschy Interior Design

“Bowl them over with great food and drink you’ve prepared yourself. If you can’t cook, call the caterer, buy a new outfit, and do the flowers yourself.” —John Bobbitt, Bobbitt & Company

9. You can never have enough.

“Always get more than you think you will need, whether that be ice, stemware, or booze.”
Philip Vanderford, Studio Thomas James

Get the stuff.

We took the designers’ tips to heart and rounded up some of their suggestions into an easy shopping list just for you.

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