Entertaining expert Annie Falk has been party hopping of sorts lately. She recently visited Fairfield County to sign copies of her recent release, Hamptons Entertaining: Creating Occasions to Remember. At Terrain, in nearby Westport, she also hosted a cocktail hour at Terrain’s café to share drinks and a dinner inspired from recipes in the book and prepared with café chef Alissa Svorka. At Juliska, the luxury home goods boutique in Stamford, the afternoon event included summer cocktails and light bites.
At her stops she shared her favorite dos and don’ts for making any gathering into the event of the season. Hosts, listen up, here’s golden advice from an entertaining pro:
What are your must-haves for any outdoor gathering?
“Your guests’ comfort is key to any successful gathering. When entertaining outdoors, the weather, location and time of day will determine what is needed to create a relaxed atmosphere. You may want to provide sun hats, sunscreen and insect repellant or perhaps warm wraps. Providing these simple comforts tells your guests you care and want them to be at ease.”
What are your secret tools for entertaining?
“There are so many wonderful and informative tips and tricks in Hamptons Entertaining; ideas collected from some of America’s most accomplished hosts to help create a warm, welcoming atmosphere without the hassle. For instance, hostess Margarita Allinson suggests, “setting your table the night before the party, cover it with a light blanket and add the flowers just before guests arrive.” I love this suggestion as it allows a busy hostess to craft a tablescape in a leisurely manner, and lets the hostess enjoy her event more and have fun!”
What are you favorite color palates for the season?
“Hydrangea blue and white. The unofficial flower of the Hamptons, hydrangeas appear in hues of purple and deep blue. In either shade, I love paring them with white flowers then adding a bit of drama with red, orange, yellow or green blooms to create an inviting palate on the table, then I carry the color theme through in my linens and dishware. These colors work as well in early summer as they do in high season and early fall.”
What should any hostess splurge on and save on?
“Splurge on good food. Source your menu items from local growers, using seasonal produce and fresh-from-the-water seafood. Save on flowers by cutting from your own garden or using supermarket finds. Save on table linens. One of my favorite tips comes from hostess Kara Ross; she uses fabric remnants as tablecloths. It’s an inexpensive way to add color, texture and glamour to any table.”
What should a hostess avoid?
“Don’t ever make a guest feel uncomfortable. If they have a food preference or allergy and you weren’t aware, do your best to create something nourishing and satisfying with what you have on hand. If they don’t drink and everyone is having a cocktail, offer them a sparkling beverage in the same tumbler the rest of the guests are drinking from.”
What are the little things that make all the difference?
“Watching that glasses are filled, offering seconds, spending a little time with each of your guests and making them feel completely at home, and most importantly, connecting friends.”
Photographs: Jerry Rabinowitz, from Hamptons Entertaining