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Social Studies Cofounder Jessica Latham Shares Her Top Entertaining Tips

The pro-host recently moved her popular party rental company to Dallas. Now she's sharing her favorite behind-the-scenes tricks.
By reporting by Ben Swanger |
Jessica Latham
"I think something on your table should make a statement," Social Studies co-founder Jessica Latham (left) says. "It could be a gorgeous dinner plate or bold linen napkin, or if you keep the tabletop simple, let your flowers be the wow moment." Industry City

You know the routine: Having committed to hosting a dinner party/book club/wedding shower, you scramble to assemble a stylish tablescape to fit your Coastal Cool/Murder Mystery/Parisian-Chic theme. You make umpteen mad dashes to your tabletop outfitters of choice, and then when your guests have gone, you’re left with three dozen Eiffel Tower–emblazoned dishes gathering dust. 

Enter: Social Studies. Since 2019, the tabletop company has taken the hassle out of entertaining by renting out curated, all-inclusive kits for events ranging in size from four to 40, then picking it up at your door when you’re done. (Love it too much to return it? Their wares are available for purchase, too.) In June, the company relocated its headquarters from Brooklyn to Dallas, bringing with it perks like expedited delivery within DFW. Co-founder Jessica Latham is excited to set up shop in a city known for throwing a stylish shindig. “It doesn’t hurt that Texans love to entertain, and Texans are good at entertaining, too,” she says.

7 Entertaining Tips to Know Before Your Next Soirée

We asked Latham to dish on her favorite hosting tricks to throwing a great party.

Don’t Overthink the Food.

“Guests are as happy with a one-pot meal and a big salad as they are with a multiple-course meal. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to order your favorite takeout.”

Make Drinks a DIY Affair.

“Pre-batch your cocktails and set out self-service beer and wine. You’re a host, not a bartender.”

Get into the Groove.

“It’s hard to have a bad evening if you’ve got cocktails in hand and great music.”

Assign Seats.

“It helps to avoid any awkward moments.”

Cook If You Can.

“I personally prefer to cook—it feels a bit more casual. I like for my guests to help in the kitchen with simple things like dressing the salad or filling water glasses. Guests generally like to feel as if they are being helpful.”

Find a Favorite Dish to Serve.

“Coastal Italian food. It’s universally liked, easy to incorporate vegetarian options, and can feel celebratory without being too fancy or heavy. Something like a salt-crusted and baked branzino, roasted veggies, a light pasta, and a salad.”

Have a Go-To Hostess Gift.

“When they are in season, fresh vegetables or flowers from my garden, or peaches from the farm stand down the road are a go-to. If not, a small plant—maybe a succulent in a unique ceramic pot. Or just something nice, like a gift card for a manicure.”


Jessica Otte

Jessica Otte

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Jessica Otte is the executive editor of D Home and D Weddings. In 2006, she helped launch D CEO as…

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