21 Rules of Entertaining

One of the more fun parts of my “job” is that I have an excuse to reach out to people I’ve been secretly stalking for decades.  Take last month, for instance, when I met Susan Spungen for breakfast at a Union Square coffee shop. Spungen spearheaded the food section at Martha Stewart Living twenty years ago. We have her to thank for leading the team that put together the Hors D’oeuvres Handbook, which is not only my finger food bible, but the bible of caterers across America. When I heard she was coming out with a book on Entertaining – What’s a Hostess to Do? – I set up a date, and over poached eggs and shaved asparagus, downloaded her hard-won wisdom.

21 Rules for Entertaining
Culled from What’s a Hostess to Do, by Susan Spungen (and so many thousands more where these came from)

1. Less can be more. Focus on a few beautiful well-conceived, well-prepared dishes.

2. Unless it’s the holiday, in which case the key word is “bounty.” (See above.)

3. The language you use for your invitation should focus on who you do want at the party (“Join us for a grown-up dinner”) not who you don’t want (“No kids please.”)

4. For the kids — When in doubt: “Bambini Pasta,” i.e. noodles, spaghetti, penne, whatever you got — with butter and Parm.

5. Some handy math: On average, assume your guests will have 2 drinks per hour (10 guests x 2 drinks x 2 hours = 40 drinks). There are approximately 5 wine glasses per bottle. A 1-liter bottle of liquor contains enough for 32 mixed drinks. One liter of mixer will make 8 drinks.

6. The Paloma is The New Margarita.

7. [OK, disclaimer: Susan didn't exactly say that, but I did, and will continue to all summer. To make: 1/2 cup grapefruit soda (such as Mexican Jarritos or Jamaican Ting), the juice of half a lime, and 2 ounces tequila. Serve over ice with lime wedge.]

8. Centerpieces: DO use short candles, DON’T use tall or overly fragrant flowers or plants; DO decorate with short flowers or potted plants, DON’T crowd the table.

9. Scented candles? Yes, for sure, in the bathroom. On the table? Never.

10. All will be fine if Nutella is on the menu. Nutella Dessert Sandwiches: Toast thinly sliced brioche bread, spread with Nutella and dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

11. Three Four-Syllable Laws of Sanity Preservation when entertaining: Make it Ahead, Cook What You Know, Think Mise en Place.

12. A multitude of sins can be easily overlooked when people are basking in a warm glow: Lighting should be soft.

13. Bathroom checklist: Close the shower curtain, empty the trash. If there is no lock, make an “occupied” sign to hang on the knob. Better yet, have the kids do it.

14. Invest in a collapsible metal coatrack and never dive through a mountain of identical black wool overcoats heaped on a bed ever again.

15. Winning Cheese and Fruit Pairs for a Starter Spread: Apples + Cheddar, Quince Paste + Manchego, Figs + Gorgonzola

16. Good salumi needs little accompaniment. But no one will object if it’s next to some good bread, olives, and crisp fennel slices.

17. To make after-party cleanup less soul-crushing, always start the evening with an empty dishwasher, dish rack, trash can, and sink.

19. Yes, you can bring wine = The answer when your friends ask What Can I Bring?

20. A good party is much more than the sum of its parts. The gathering takes on a life of its own, and it almost always works out, even when it doesn’t.

21. The no-fail menu for entertaining kids and adults: Ribs, Slaw (lose the brussels in the summer), and make-ahead Ice Cream Sandwiches.

To make: For each sandwich, place a scoop of ice cream on a chocolate chip cookie (try Tate’s brand or another thin crisp cookie). Top with another cookie and press down gently. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and set in the freezer. Wrap individually after they’ve hardened, and freeze until ready to serve.

 

Giveaway!! One commenter selected at random below wins a copy of What’s a Hostess to Do? Winner announced on Monday, May 20, and must live in the 48 contiguous states. Update: Susan, #307 wins the freebie.

Art & Photo credits: Evan Sung (holiday spread) Sun Young Park (cocktail tray illustration), Susan Spungen (desserts)

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371 Comments

Kani

Loved this post! I’m moving into my first home soon and I’m SO excited to entertain! Perfect housewarming party tips.

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Becky H.

Great advice for easy entertaining. And so practical. The empty dishwasher/trash can so easily be overlooked or forgotten, but what a difference it can make!

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cyndie williams

Love the simplicity of her rules; such common sense stated so simply.

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Sarah

This looks like a fabulous book. I find myself falling into ruts when we entertain, so this could bring some fresh air to our shindigs.

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Anne

I could do with a Nutella sandwich right about now…..these are all good rules, I try to remember most of them so I’m not running around like a maniac when I have guests! (even if it’s just a girlfriend over for a cheeseburger)

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Berit

Noodles w/ Parm & butter for the kids v. fighting over why they won’t eat the meal I prepared. Love it!

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Dawn

I get very ANXIOUS when we have a SMALL gathering! I believe having this book would help because my mind goes into overdrive & not able to narrow down my plans. I had to be honest , thankfully my husband is a better party planner & good host, he keeps me calm to enjoy our friends!
Thanks for the opportunity to win !!

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Summer

What a great post! Makes me want to have a dinner party immediately. I’m going to be planning over a Paloma tonight!

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pam

great post. love the bathroom tips and the empty dishwasher, trash, etc. why didn’t i think of that

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Becky Scott

Love her less is more attitude. I tend to overdue and having someone like Susan confirm this makes it a lot easier to let go and just do a few great things:)

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Val

Since I just bought my first house (on my own!) I feel like this should be my new Bible!

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Vicki

I put this book on my wishlist when you mentioned it a few weeks ago – now I’m even more convinced I want to read it, and have more dinner parties :) Would love to win a copy!

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Mirya

I have been drinking vodka+ting+a splash of grenadine since we went to Jamaica. Easy and so refreshing during the summer! The grenadine (or strawberry syrup if you are in Jamaica) make it really pretty too!

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Kara

I like the idea of Bambini pasta–so much better than the ubiquitous mac and cheese.

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Aliso

Thanks, and Thank goodness someone is speaking out against scented candles at the dinner table!

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Holly J

I get very nervous when I entertain. This list makes it sound so easy and even fun.

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Leslie

I wish I had known about this last week – it would have been the perfect Mother’s Day present!

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Melissa

#21 made me laugh! We’re having ribs and slaw for a big gathering of kids and adults this Saturday! (White First Communion dress and ribs may not mix, but that’s what she requested.)

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Clare

What a great list! We haven’t had a chance to host any grown-up dinner parties in a while with a crazy toddler running around our house, but I’m looking forward to it one day!

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joanna brunelle

This book sounds great. It so much easier going into a party with a good simple menu. Otherwise it’s no fun for the hostess!

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Jessy

Ever since every other Chopped contestant has made french toast in the final round, I’ve wanted to shout from the rooftops “bread does not desert make!” But I am a big enough person to admit, that upon seeing those Nutella Desert Sandwiches, I stand corrected. Nutella FTW!

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A Life From Scratch

The ice cream cookies are genius – I made them for my last get together and WOW – were they a huge hit.

I love entertaining so much and it’s always great to get some fresh new ideas!

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Katie

Can’t wait to try your Paloma recipe! Saw it on a menu recently and wasn’t quite sure what it was.

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Stacey

Perfectly timed post! I was just thinking about how to entertain the family coming over on Sunday!

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Kara

I can’t wait to empty my trash can before my dinner party on Saturday night. Awesome tip – great book!

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Alison

Thanks for highlighting this book… I’m ready for fresh hostess inspiration!

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Nicole

Looks like a great book, it’s always a challenge to come up with a meal plan to please everyone!

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AmyPH

The Paloma sounds delicious-can’t wait to try it!

Another good spin on the Nutella dessert sandwich is a Nutella quesadilla, which I make for my daughter. Drop a big dollop of nutella in a flour tortilla, fold over and grill in a buttered skillet until crisp and gooey, then dust with cinnamon sugar.

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Susan

Desperately needing to start entertaining…this book would be a big help! And the list is great. Thanks!

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Kay Lynn

I am printing…well, pinning….this now! Thank you. My favorite tip is about the party taking a life of its own and working out (even when it doesn’t).

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danielle

i’m in the midst of preparing for my birthday party on saturday, and this list just helped calm me down ever so slightly. especially #20!

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Tara

This is lovely. I have been suffering from Excessive Entertainment Fatigue (E.E.F.) for a few years now. I think these tips might actually help. Thanks.

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Louisa S.

I like the cookie ice cream sandwich idea, sounds delicious! I’d love to see what other tips lie inside the book..

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Kat Chavez

I love this list! I am trying to throw more dinner parties this summer that are kid friendly and this is a huge help. Also try a scoop of cottage cheese in that bambinia pasta, HUGE hit at our house. Buttered noodles just aren’t right without it.

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MaryG

I would love this book – I want to entertain more (we just remodeled the kitchen and I want to show it off!) but I always feel so overwhelmed at the idea.

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Jane

Love this post and all of the wonderful tips! This sounds like the perfect book on entertaining for people of all ages!

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Rachel

I need to get my hands on a Paloma soon. Grapefruit soda has been added to my shopping list!

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Liz R.

I already had “close the shower curtain down,” but that’s about it… Gotta get my hands on that book.

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Adrianne

Favorite words: “it almost always works out, even when it doesn’t.” I think that could be a life philosophy, no?

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Cynthia

Love this list … I would add that Trader Joes has great bubbly non-alcoholic drinks, like pink lemonade, limeade, etc. that provide a triple benefit – mixer for vodka, gin; fun for kids; something for adults who choose not to drink.

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michelle

Wish I had known about resources like this at my last gathering. Thank you for posting great information! And I will HAVE to buy the book soon, (If I don’t win it)

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Lauren

Love the tips!!! I’m the dinner party queen among my friends but I’m still learning ways to ensure the night is fun and easy. Timing has been the largest issue thus far.

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Silvia

i think this book is perfect as we are in charge of hosting game night every 3 months with our friends! it would make me a better host & guest!

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Lynn SW

We’ll be moving this summer so we could use this book for our housewarming party!

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Jen

LOVE it! I have to remind myself that less can be more. ALSO… my husband and I just discovered Palomas last fall. YUMMY!

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Stephanie

Start with an empty dishwasher. So logical, and yet never occurred to me. Thanks!

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Reynaul

Great list and great looking book! I also never thought of the Bambini pasta, awesome idea!

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Krista

Great post, full of useful pointers. Getting ready to host a meeting of 18 people at my home in one hour, and #9 has me running to light my bathroom candles! Thanks for a great list (along with 100 Rules of Dinner–all time fave post).

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Maggie

These tips are incredibly useful–they certainly inspire me to entertain more frequently. Can’t wait to check out the book.

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Kathy

This book looks like a great companion to DALS. Hubs & I are starting to have dinner parties for people we’re not related to, and last month I make the mistake of tall flowers on the table. We moved them before finishing our salads so everyone could see each other (blush… why didn’t I think of that?!!). That faux pas was forgotten when the pork shoulder with papardelle was presented. One guest had thirds! Thank you, Jenny!!

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Julienne

I love having people over for dinner, but I am a very anxious entertainer and tend to go overboard making sure things are perfect! Love the tips so far – would loove to read more from this book!

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Teresa

Great list! Love the Nutella sandwich idea! Off to add the book to my Amazon wish list. Just in case I don’t win…

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Maddie

We just moved into our first home together and I would like to plan a housewarming party- this book would be perfect for ideas!

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Courtney

This is amazing. I can’t wait to make the warm nutella sandwiches and the ice cream sandwiches. Oh, looks like I’m having a dessert party.

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M

I missed the part in the post about a commentator getting the book, but I did see “92 comments” – my first thought was – “was there something controversial in this I didn’t pick up on?” Wasn’t until I started reading the comments that I realized.

These are great tips, especially about the flowers – I’ve made that mistake as well.

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michelle in montana

Oh! I just must win this for my neighbor and friend whose birthday is fast approaching…..She would adore this! Well, so would I. It would be tough to give away…..might have to go shopping right now!

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Renee

Oh, I need this book! And that holiday spread by Evan Sung is absolutely to die for. Where did that photo originally appear? I want to use it as inspiration for all my future parties.

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Olivia

Very timely…entertaining tomorrow night and will surely employ several of these great ideas.

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Ellie

I need this book! I have no idea how to entertain and I really need to get cracking on this life skill.

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suzell

I love this list. In fact, I love all lists that are easy to read and understand, and the tips are great. I will actually remember them come my next party/hosting duties!

Thank you for sharing!

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Jesse

this post came at a great time for me as were having last minute guests this weekend and i’m trying not to hit the panic button. now i’ve got my mantra: keep it simple.

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Katie

I love DALS and this book sounds fabulous. I think being a great hostess is something you learn, both from observation and trial and error. I am learning to host parties big and small and would live to read this book. I hope I win!! :)

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Lauren @ La Dolce Pita

I’m obsessed with retro-style entertaining & cookbooks, so I am definitely going to want this Susan Spungen book! Thanks for these tips, very helpful – entertaining can be SO stressful!

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Annie

It’s so funny, that I had never thought about making it a hard and fast rule to begin the evening with an empty dishwasher and trashcan. But since I read it in your book it has made all of my gatherings so much easier to clean up and just less stressful in general. Thanks!

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Kelsey M

Palomas! I’ve been saying this for 6 months–definitely the new margarita. This book sounds right up my alley, I would love to have a copy!

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Laura Z.

There are so many great ideas here! Where to start?

I REALLY want this book.

And yes, Nutella anywhere on the menu makes everything perfect…

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Briana

My husband is in charge of the social calendar and is always inviting people over. He says “It’s not big deal; I’ll help you!” I think we all know how that ends . . . . This book! Must have this book!

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Schuyler

Sounds like a great book. So many people forget the scented candle tip….

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Lori M.

This is a great list and I have to make the Nutella sandwiches immediately!

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Divya

I am moving to my new home at the end of this summer. I can not wait to entertain, and put these tips to good use! Loved this post Jen! Off to try a Paloma! :)

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Diane

Gee, being almost 50 years old, I thought I knew how to entertain. But whoa! I need this book! What great ideas that I could really use.

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Lisa De.

It is party season coming up at my house… 3 daughters and 3 summer birthdays. Thanks for the great tips!

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Abby E.

My husband and I just bought our first house and I need this book! We’ve been volunteered to host Thanksgiving and I need all the help I can get.

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Anna

As someone who is just beginning to entertain, this book will be immensely helpful. I can’t wait to check it out!

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Cay

We were totally living the Paloma last summer, and I was just thinking that it’s time to stock up on some grapefruit soda, now that it’s above 60!

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Emily T

If you have a dishwasher (sorry Lisa) also put the soap in the little door. I don’t know why, but having soap in there already makes me feel SO PEACEFUL

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Iris

Great suggestions. I always suggest wine when someone asks if they can bring something, too. This book is going on my wishlist!

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Will

Appetizers rock! (The best dinner ever is a bunch of appetizers and wine!) – OK, maybe leave out the wine for the kids – ;)

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Ann

Thanks for the post! Really excited to check out this book, and her finger food book!

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Evie

I will be mixing some Palomas for my next gathering. Just made ice cream cookwiches for a party last weekend! Looks like a great resource.

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Christina

I’ve had my eye on this little gem of a book for weeks! I love to entertain.

Christina in Oregon

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Raquel

All is well when Nutella is on the menu. My kind of book. Thanks for the giveaway!

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Allison (Spontaneous Tomato)

I loved this post! (And then it was a pleasant bonus to see that it was a giveaway at the end…) I don’t think I’ve ever tried a Paloma, but you’ve 100% convinced me that it needs to be the next drink I make for myself. Especially considering I already love ginger ale + tequila (which my friends and I named the Chinchilla), and I already love Salty Dogs… hm I should try adding lime juice to my next Salty Dog, too!

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Karyn

Paloma! So fun. Our bar cart has a running love affair with Ting, and I’m excited to try this!

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Kki

Wonderful post – thanks for the tips! Will be sure to use them next time we have guests.

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Kristin Walters

Wonderful reminders of how to make things a bit easier for the hosts so everyone can relax and have a good time! I’m making a Paloma and planning my next party now!

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Stephanie

I’m moving into a new (and bigger!) apartment in a few weeks. Dinner parties all summer long!

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Rachel

That cocktail sounds amazing. It’s finally stopped snowing long enough in Colorado to contemplate such a thing!

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Haley

thanks for the great book references, i’m going to have to check this book out for sure.

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jackie

The process to becoming a great host can sometimes be a slow one; this book looks like it might speed things up!

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Jenny C

We give a HUGE holiday party (75-80+ people) and are always on the lookout for new app ideas to keep the menu fresh. Adding this book to my Amazon wishlist now in case I don’t win!

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Becky

I don’t have the entertaining gene, so reading that list has already inspired me with some great, simple tips!

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Emily

Love this. I nearly always violate the “cook what you know” rule, though…love trying out new stuff when there’s extras to cook for. Also if I’m making it ahead of time & it doesn’t work out, I can always go back to an old standby on the day of!

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Sara D

Great post! I’ve been craving dinner parties lately, but I have a really hard time feeling like I can put together something really nice. These tips will help!

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Julie McKnight

Thanks for the tips! Can’t wait to read the book.

My husband makes a mean margarita, but I’m definitely going to have to try those Palomas.

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Melissa

Great ideas! I will have to remember the ice cream sandwiches for the kids!

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Katie B

Yuh-es, ice cream sandwiches! Last summer I made them with homemade double-chocolate cookies, and the kids lost their little minds. The adults liked them, too:)

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Madelaine

Love these tips! And I agree about the Palomas – they’re so refreshing.

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melissa

what a great list! i just had my first paloma a few weeks ago (followed quickly by my second!) and i loved it! my drink of the summer for sure.

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Stacie

Oh goody … It would make for an excellent early birthday win! Fingers crossed for all!
Stacie

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Stephanie W.

Great list! I would add: No need for a kids table unless there are many and they are rowdy! My kids have always loved being mashed up with the grown-ups. It makes for good relationships and great conversation.

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Robyn

This is a terrific list! We don’t entertain much because our place is so tiny AND we have an almost 4 yr old….one day, one day…

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Corinna Paolucci

Love your site… Always inspiring! This post is no exception! :)

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Molly G

I love the ice cream sandwich idea… so simple yet delicious! The perfect summer make-ahead dessert!

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Angela

Love the sundae on a spponAfter school snack for my daughter every day – peanut butter, honey, mini choc chips!

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Susan

Great post with wonderful ideas! Can’t wait to try the Nutella Dessert sandwich!

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Beth Nesbit

We are almost done with our backyard construction and I can’t wait for summertime backyard entertaining!

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Beth Nesbit

We are just finishing up with the construction on our backyard and I can’t wait to entertain for the summer!

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Melissa

Love all these ideas. I think this book is my new go-to for bridal showers, etc.

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Carrie

I have always wanted to host a fun dinner party. Maybe this book would help me pull it together!

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Benita

Love all these great tips! I always keep a tub of ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough on hand so I can whip up dessert in no time anytime. You don’t even have to make them into sandwhiches- you can be lazy like me and drop ice cream in a bowl and top with two cookies!

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Connor

My birthday is coming up in June, so I’m stealing some ideas from this :)

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Beth S

I am hosting a graduation party in about 10 days, so I appreciate the tips. I also love the make ahead ice cream cookie sandwich idea, I may just make some for my ice cream loving son!!

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Adrienne

Love this, especially since this summer we will be doing a lot of entertaining with family coming to visit.

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Ariane

So glad you posted this! Sounds like a lovely book. If I don’t win, I’ll still have to order it for my mother as a belated Mother’s Day gift.

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Nancy L S

Love the tips! I am ginna make those semi-homemade ice cream sandwiches and also serve and drink the “new margaritas”! Thanks!

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Beth

My husband is starting a new job and we’ll be entertaining. Thanks for the ideas.

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Kati

Thank you so much for this! I only wish I had seen this a year or two ago. Since moving in with my boyfriend into a bigger house, we have a lot of large parties. I have learned from trial and error (mostly error) the tips about the bathroom, simple food, and cleanup. This is great!

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Deena

Love the tips, we entertain more in the summer so this will be helpful. I also can’t wait to make up some of your special burger sauce! It’s a summer staple at our house.

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sarah

me! me! me! this has been on my amazon wish list for weeks!! i want it!!

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Michelle

Can’t wait to read this book! I can’t get enough Tips from Experts.

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bridgit

Now I know what I’m getting my husband for his birthday! He is all about nice hors d’oeuvres and the simplest of simple meal (whatever that might be in the moment).

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Cecilia

I’m going to make those ice cream sandwiches, and that salad very soon, and have some company over to enjoy them. Thanks for the ideas!

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Jennifer P

Love these simple tips. I so appreciate being validated that I can still be a good hostess without going overboard and crazy!!!

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Jennifer

Very nice tips! now if you have any for cleaning up a small house with a big three year old. For a period of time I argued that we should be forgiven the mess, but I think it’s to the point of uncomfortable for guests now.

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Sherry

Love entertaining and cooking. Great tips because I always do too much.

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Sarah

Awesome! We are hosting the rehearsal dinner for friends wedding in August, I’m going to put those tips to good use!

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Kim

These tips are so helpful! They make me want to toss all of our toy clutter in a closet and invite folks over. Thank you!

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Margit Van Schaick

Hopefully, this book can inspire more of us to give parties, to make possible a greater sense of community.

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em remington

great tips! love the drink math, and also the ice cream sandwiches!

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Beth Berlin

Fantastic tips! One specialty cocktail; beer, wine and soda for those who don’t like it. As long as you’ve got a clean bathroom, people always seem to be forgiving if your house isn’t spotless….especially if the food, drinks and conversation are fantastic!

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Kim

This book is a must-have for my shelves. And will be a great hostess gift this summer!

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Sandra H

It is so helpful to “have the permission” to say Yes bring something! Thanks for encouraging me to begin my own love story.

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Jyll

Ice cream sandwiches! I always forget about those. This book will really come in handy for the summer party season.

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Adrianne

What great tips! In the summer, when we’re barbecuing outside, we always provide a basket of bug spray and sunscreen for our guests.

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Katy A

I’m always the most nervous hostess, convinced there won’t be enough food or drink. Until I get a glass of wine in me. Then everything works out.

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Kathleen

I don’t necessarily always follow these types of tips, but I love to read about them

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Nerissa

This book is on my wishlist! Thanks for the Paloma recipe. I not only love the way that word rolls of the tounge but I also love all things grapefruit.

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Kristen

The collapsible metal coat rack has just been added to my Target shopping list, love that idea!

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Rosie

Couldn’t agree morea about the empty dishwasher, trash can, etc. It makes things THAT much easier.

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Amy G

Great post!

Every time I put together a cheese plate, I run through your list: something from a pig, etc.

Every time.

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Lori

We love having people over, esp. in the summer. I always get stressed out, but have fun as soon as people arrive. But I always make the same stuff. Bring on the new! Thanks for the giveaway, and love Palomas (fresh grapefruit juice, though).

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Laurel

This is a great list. I love all the tips for keeping it simple. That is something my husband and I really struggle with when entertaining. Thanks!

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Megan H.

This is a really timely post with great advice. It makes me want to get something on the books today!

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Karen

I would love to find a way to make hosting dinner parties more enjoyable and less stressful. I am definitely going to check this book out ( but will wait to see if I win it!).

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KC

I was just prepping for a Girl Scout meeting about manners and hosting a party. They don’t need the full list (yet!) but #3, #8, #9, #17 & #20 are great for these young girls (and the rest of us!) And I think we may incorporate #10 into the menu planning. Thank you!

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giselle l.

i absolutely love these ideas and the book looks adorable. thanks!

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Kendall

What a lovely book and such approachable hostess advice! Easy to remember too.

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Rhonda

I love to entertain and this book looks like divine inspiration. The Paloma might be this summer’s beverage of choice. Thanks for the recipe.

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Tammy

Love this list! I love entertaining and always looking for ideas on how to make it easier on the hostess!

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Amanda

I love this! I recently had a dinner party disaster that involved me making something I had never made before, right before the guests arrived, and it turned out horrible. I have been thinking about the rule of making what you love and know for dinner parties ever since.

Also – was at your talk at the 92Y on Wednesday! You shared so much valuable information, and it was a real treat. Thank you!

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Robin

I love having dinner parties and this list is invaluable! And now you have me craving a Paloma….

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Tiffany

Love the list… need to remember the simplicity next time and that the house doesn’t need to be spotless!!

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Marchelle

I love entertaining and this book sounds like a must have. Except I disagree with rule number one. Maybe it’s a southern thing but there should always be a bounty.

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Femme Fraîche

I envision sipping a Paloma while reading Susan’s awesome new book. How cute is that cover?? Great post! Fingers crossed for a win!

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Jessica

Thanks for this post–I’m hosting an event in a couple of weeks and this info has helped pull me back from the brink of crazy hostess disaster mode.

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Pam

I’m pretty terrified of entertaining but we’ve vowed to start. I’m looking for all the help I can get.

I remember an old friend who’s rule was to serve easy food she would love and invite people you find interesting (and kind?). Sounds simple, non?

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megs

this post saved the day. we just moved from the city to the burbs and we’re having new neighbors over tonight! THANK YOU!!!

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emma

My life always needs more lists of how to be better in the kitchen — cannot wait to put these into practice!

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Dani

Love tip #5! I always seem to over or under buy drinks for my gatherings.

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Cellabella

These are great tips. I’m always learning a new lesson every time we entertain so more advice is always welcome!

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Jennifer

When I’m at someone’s else’s gathering and they DON’T have soft lighting, I find a way to help turn down the lights and light up the candles – is that bad? haha AND I always have a playlist ready in case there isn’t any music – awkward silence beware!

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Divya

Having guests over soon, and I have to say, I LOVE the coat rack idea! Thanks!

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Sallie

We are in the process of buying a house with a wet bar in the basement — that fact plus this post makes me so excited to host. Thank you!!

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Jillian Newsome

what a fun book & a wonderful post. it reminded me to get my summer party invites out SOON. thanks!

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Jessica

I had this little pitter patter in my heart of feeling so cool since we’ve been drinking the paloma for a while around here! It’s a great drink. And it’s a great list.

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Christy

Summer is almost upon us and I can’t wait for dinners with friends which run late into the evening while the kids are running around the lawn. Can’t wait to read this!

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ruthie

This is a book I need! I love books about food and entertaining, not just for parties but for every day.

I came here from FramedCooks where she is giving away YOUR cookbook this month. That’s some kind of serendipity, isn’t it? ;)

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lisa hamilton

Please Yes I Need This!! I am still intimidated by entertaining. Make endless lists but can’t relax into it. Is it genetic? If so can I have surgery like Angelina Jolie? (not to make light of her courageous act in any way)

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Heather

This book sounds right up my ally. I knew a couple of these tips but you can always learn more.

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Jill

Love this post, started drinking dark and stormy based on your writing…I think a change is in my future with The Paloma! Thank you :)

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Sarah

Looks like a great book – I need all the help I can get with this sort of thing!

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Rosilind

Love this post and love to entertain. These are wonderful tips thanks for posting. Crossing my fingers to win the giveaway too.

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Kelly

I do not like entertaining but I enjoyed these “rules”. Maybe I can be trained? Thank you.

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Maryellen

the Paloma–genius! this book looks like a must have. Thanks for another great tip.

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Emy

Just found your website after reading your book Dinner A Love Story. Excited to try out some new recipes!

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Sarah

This post is why I am grateful I found this website: useful, entertaining to read, and inspiring. It’s rare that I read a recipe or tips and actually feel empowered – Thanks Jenny!

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Julie

The Paloma just might have to be my official drink of summer this year! Great advice in the book.

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Carmen

Great post and book! I think this book was written for me, a truly reluctant entertainer!

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Chrystina

I just came across your blog via Sometimes Sweet and I’m SO excited about it. I wish it wasn’t midnight right now so that I had more time, but I will absolutely be stopping by more often. I’m really excited about this post specifically because I also write a hostess blog and I love to see what other people are doing. Really excited to see what comes next… have a great week!!

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Kelley

Didn’t read all the comments to be sure that I’m not being redundant but I have been drinking La Palomas for years and, when you gotta have one and there’s no authentic grapefruit soda around, Fresca works in a pinch. You will remember this when you are far, far away from the kind of store that carries Jarritos or Jamaica Ting and be thankful (as long as you don’t mind artificial sweeteners). :)

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Julie Ganter

I love these ideas! Can’t wait to read them all – I love to entertain.

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