A simple Sunday soup supper outdoors has a festive feel in this setting from "Entertaining at Home" by Ronda Carman. Rizzoli.

Entertaining made easy: 10 top party-hosting tips from the experts

Just in time for Thanksgiving, draw inspiration for your holiday gatherings with these nuggets of practical advice from the authors of some of our favorite entertaining books of 2019:


  1. Think big. Size makes a statement. Oversize design elements are eye-catching, exciting and full of energy. They’re impossible to forget. —Bryan Rafanelli, A Great Party


  1. When you look across a cocktail party filled with guests, what do you see? The things above shoulder level. A beautiful, eye-catching installation hanging from the ceiling is what guests will see when the party is in full swing and what they’ll likely talk about afterward. —Bryan Rafanelli, A Great Party


  1. Classic dishes like this soufflé, from Alex Hitz’ book ‘The Art of the Host,’ are always a smart choice. Photo by Iain Bagwell. Rizzoli.

    Never plan menus that are trendy or too complicated because, as Karl Lagerfeld put it best, “The last step after trendy is tacky.” —Alex Hitz, The Art of the Host


  1. Always buy the best of whatever ingredient your recipe calls for—and plenty of it. Never skimp. If you’re not feeling generous, cancel your party, but please do not parse out food. —Alex Hitz, The Art of the Host


  1. Buy more dinner plates than you think you need. And you can never have too many wine and Champagne glasses. —Ronda Carman, Entertaining at Home


  1. I always love to find unusual items to serve as place cards. I don’t know how many parties I’ve attended where we seemed to play musical chairs because guests were unsure of the order. Place cards solve this uncomfortable issue and make everyone feel welcome. —Shayla Copas, Four Seasons of Entertaining


  1. I often set up a separate area for cocktail hour. Giving guests a place to mingle, have drinks and nibble on small plates lightens the mood and takes pressure off the host. Locating cocktail hour on the patio shelters guests from the hustle and bustle of party prep in the dining room. —Shayla Copas, Four Seasons of Entertaining


  1. A bloody mary bar is a great idea for a large weekend gathering. Whether your guests favor a tall, tangy version or an extra hot shot, they will enjoy mixing up their own drinks. Best yet, it frees up the hosts from bar duty. —Ronda Carman, Entertaining at Home


  1. Always turn the lights down. No one came over to bear witness to a root canal or toe surgery. —Alex Hitz, The Art of the Host


  1. Never make the music too loud. It sets people on edge and can even make them leave. This is lunch or dinner, not a rock concert. —Alex Hitz, The Art of the Host