Recently, I attended LA Times Magazine's Art of Entertaining event designed for Angelenos passionate about entertaining at home.
The event was held at a vacant $17 million dollar home up in the Hollywood hills that is currently for sale. We bought it of course and look forward to entertaining there soon *sigh* ... and now back to reality. During the interactive sessions from party planner Yifat Oren and floral designer Eric Buterbaugh, I learned the following tips on how to plan for home entertaining:
- When possible send paper invitations and not use Evite. Personally, this made my eyebrows rise, which they often do, because I haven't sent a paper invitation since my 10-year-old birthday party and even then I hand carried them to school. However, Yifat must have seen the digital skeptics in the crowd and relented by saying that if you must send out digital invites, then at least make them personal with a designed graphic, photo, something easy, but more personal. I was content with this suggestion and am definitely going to try that next time.
- For the first half hour of a party try and stay by the front door to greet your guests and then introduce them to someone they might know or would like to get to know. Check!
- To free yourself up, hire bartenders or a wait staff and if you can, have it catered. Raphael hates when I get tied up by the bar making my popular signature martinis and champagne cocktails and he keeps saying that for our next big party we'll hire a bartender, but I enjoy it. This brings me to my next point...
- Do try making a few signature cocktails and have a menu listing them out. I always have two sig cocktails, but I haven't done an official tabletop menu, so will also have to try that next time.
- Serve bite size food so that it's easy for your guest to pop a bite and still continue mingling and not worry about balancing napkins, forks, etc. Also, avoid things like parsley that might get stuck in people's teeth.
- Always provide information about parking. Don't leave it up to your guest to figure out or research on their own. Have these details in your invite along with directions.
- As a guest, you should always bring something, even when the host declines. However, don't bring flowers. This really made my eyebrows rise, as I love getting flowers, but apparently it might not fit with the party theme or current decor and also forces the host to have to go and take care of them immediately by finding a vase and putting them in water. I guess I can see her point, but personally I'd still welcome the flowers.
- Lastly, they suggested not sitting couples together since they are always together anyway.