Friday, September 21, 2012

Entertaining with Style

One of the unexpected results of building a new house is that I am now asked to host all sorts of events.  Although my husband and I did not expressly build the house for the purpose of entertaining, the layout works well for events.  We took about 6 months to get used to the house then had a few functions in the spring and early summer.  There has definitely been a learning curve – there is an art to hosting a successful event, and I am a bit of a novice!

In a few weeks, my husband and I will be hosting a parents dinner for our middle child’s grade.  I have been told to expect about 120 for a light cocktail supper.   It will be catered, and someone else is taking care of the food planning, which means all I need to do is have the house ready and plan where things will go. The previous events I have hosted were for around 25-40 people;  hosting an event for 100+ people is going to mean that what worked before might not work for this event.  

As I was mulling this over, I realized that Veranda special editor and entertaining specialist Danielle Rollins has a daughter in the same grade and same school as my child.  She has a book coming out on October 3 – Soiree: Entertaining With Style (click here to purchase on Amazon).  I sent her an email to see if she would be willing to come over and help me think through logistics for the party, and she gladly agreed!

Many of you are probably familiar with Danielle’s house – it was much blogged about when it was featured in Town & Country.

Here is a picture of Danielle in the foyer of her beautiful home, with interiors by Miles Redd.

Danielle’s amazing living room…

Her one of a kind bar…

And her beautiful library.  Note the details in this room – the brass inlay on the cabinetry is my favorite.  Also note the window covering, which appears to tuck up into the molding at the top of the wall. 

Danielle told me that her library was modeled after Brooke Astor’s library (seen above) –  Habitually Chic posted this week on the upcoming Brooke Astor auction, which features items from this library.

Danielle is well known for her legendary parties.  Although my event is a school sponsored affair that will be simple and low key (with a modest budget), Danielle was up for the challenge of helping me think through the party and logistics, and her input on space planning and party flow was incredibly valuable.  Here are a few images from several parties that Danielle has planned and hosted through the years.
The tabletop from this exquisite affair made the cover of Danielle’s book.  Source: Soiree: Entertaining With Style

This is one of my favorite images, a long elegant table set and ready in anticipation of a dinner for designer Oscar de la Renta.  Can you imagine the delight of the guests to walk into the back yard and see this view?   Note the candles defining the curve of the stairs and lighting the way for the guests.  I spy Danielle’s son peeking out on the left!  
A night time view of the Oscar de la Renta dinner party in progress. Source: Soiree: Entertaining With Style

Danielle hosted a Great Gatsby themed party on another occasion. Source: luxecrush.com (LuxeCrush  is a highly curated online magazine focusing on the Atlanta lifestyle).

Complete with croquet on the lawn!  Source: luxecrush.com

Danielle recently had an article in Veranda (she is a contributing editor) featuring her secrets to unforgettable dinner partiesclick here for online version.  The article features an event she recently hosted, and it is a great read.

Danielle came over yesterday morning and we discussed the event that I am planning -  which I must emphasize is much, much lower key than any of the events seen in the images above! However, Danielle is clearly experienced at the art of entertaining, and if the weather cooperates we will also use the outdoor spaces as much as possible given the number of people attending.  It was truly amazing to get her perspective on the layout, what would work from a flow perspective, how to think about this party and any future parties we have at the house.  She had so many great tips and recommendations!  I was frantically scribbling notes and will take a day or two to process them into a blog post….

It will also give me a chance to read a special preview copy of her book.  I will report back in a few days!

In the meantime, to see LuxeCrush’s smashing review of Danielle’s book Soiree: Entertaining with Style, please click here.

Upcoming events (click here for full calendar):
Tuesday October 2nd
Sak’s NYC Book Launch & Signing
6pm–9pm book signing
Sak’s Fifth Avenue - 611 Fifth Avenue, 9th Floor, New York

Thursday October 4th
ADAC Book Signing (ADAC will be open to the public as of October 1st – it’s a great time to visit!)
2pm–3pm speaking event
3pm–5pm reception & book signing
351 Peachtree Hills Ave, Atlanta GA

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  1. I got my copy from Amazon yesterday! I read about it on your facebook page last week! I can't wait to read it. Lucky, lucky you to get to meet the author. Good luck on the party!

  2. Your house is so beautiful and a wonderful space for entertaining. I'm sure that Danielle had great suggestions for you. Good luck.

  3. absolutely wild!!!
    it's so beautiful...every space in the house.
    i do how ever wish i were at the al fresco dinner party.


  4. What am amazing home and party location! She really knows how to wow the guests. I hope you have a large driveway because I would hate to think about parking 60-70 in ours and on the street.

  5. I love this post! I loved that home in Town and Country and now I want that book! I have seen some of the images of those parties before but never realized that was the same house. The red library that Albert Hadley designed is one of my all time favorite rooms. Miles Redd did an amazing job re-creating the look!

  6. How wonderful to have Danielle to collaborate with! I am sure your party will be fabulous, no matter how low-key it is!! And perhaps this means we'll see your house in Veranda one day? I'll have my fingers crossed!

  7. I MUST get this book!!!!!! Looks amazing, and these images have me dreaming of a party! I am actually having one Sat. night for 50 and feeling a little overwhelmed. Don't ask why I am on the computer right now when I should be downstairs sorting silverware....lol! Good luck with your party, sounds like you are in great company and have wonderful and inspiring ideas! Thanks for the heads up on the book, looks fabulous.

  8. These photos are breathtaking. I'll be on the lookout for your your feature on the party tips!

  9. Despite the 'helpful' hints from 'Anonymous'- it appears you are in good hands with the guidance of Danielle. It is going to be exciting and fun for you to show your home and welcome everyone. It makes a house come even more alive when you host a soiree. Have fun with all of it.

  10. Wow....how much fun for you to have one of the best! I know all will be lovely and the weather is getting to be 'just right' to incorporate the outdoors. Your 'vernada' will be perfect!

  11. Og Lord...what a beautiful home and decorated to perfection! I am sure you are in good hands with Danielle and her talents!

  12. ENJOY THIS!! Take lots of photos and may the stars watch over you!!! franki

  13. I love how your write...I enjoy your blog so much. You have a sincere warmth about you. I am looking forward to reading about the event you are hosting soon. I am certain it will be spectacular!

  14. holly, once you have this dinner behind you, you will be a pro at entertaining large numbers. you are so fortunate to have such a talented mentor, too.

    hope you'll keep us posted...donna

  15. Don't mind "Anonymous" at all. You get the help you need from whoever is willing to help especially since its a middle school parents' event and you are both parents there. I can't wait to get the book myself. You have a beautiful home and the other parents will not be looking for it to look like it came straight from one of the home magazines,Have fun with it, that's what most people will long remember afterwards.

    I want (demand) pictures after!!!

  16. How great to have such a stylish and experienced collaborator! I'm sure your party will be fabulous! I hope you'll be taking lots of pictures to share!

  17. You have remarked that your party will be low key and low budget, although the author's parties are clearly upscale and elaborate. I would be interested to read how a high end party person would throw a party on a budget. Any tips would be very interesting in your next post. I look forward to reading it.

  18. I hate to ask, but does any one recognize the lantern that is in the foyer photo at Danielle's? We are building and I sure would like to find something like it. Thanks and I love the blog.

  19. I'll order the book but would really liked to have been a fly on the wall with ya'll together.

    Watching your eyes cutting here/there, a shorthand of words. The electricity.

    XO T

  20. I will ask again and you may decide to delete the question, but if your party was scheduled for Sept. 30, why have you waited so long to make definitive plans? It seems this is just another attempt to engage your audience with commentary long after you have made final decisions or plans. We see it over and over on this blog. Again, check the Atlanta and Birmingham newspapers Holly about the attendant drama around this family not all of which escapes your renowned party giver. People use events planners all the time to give parties including the divine Mrs. Rollins. This is another one of your publicity stunts and cries for accolades and attention. You can take these words down, but at least you will have read them and understand that some of us see you for the phony you really are.

  21. Sounds terrifying! Your house must be stunning (more photos please) but I imagine there is a LOT to coordinate so just having a nice environment isn't everything I guess. I am so glad you were able to get some great advice and make this amazing contact. I hope you will share some photos of the party and that house of yours. Good luck. I have a very small house and have only ever hosted about 15-20 people for a summer party and it was overwhelming. Catering is key, I think, once you get above a small group and if I ever have more than 8-10 people over, I am getting catering help too! You will do great. xo Terri

  22. Your party is going to be wonderful, Holly and what a thrill to get tips from Danielle. I am so excited about her new book - it looks gorgeous and her home...exquisite. Would love to be sitting at the long table with the perfectly manicure yard. Can't wait to see pictures of yours - know it will perfect!!

  23. Beautiful!!! I absolutely those spaces...the colors are so vibrant! Great post and looks to be a great party!

    Love, Jamie Herzlinger

  24. That awesome pink library! I kinda like books now if I have this kind of library!

  25. I NEED to know where I can get the gorgeous turquoise and hot pink tablecloth on the cover of Soiree. PLEASE someone TELL ME!!!!


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