Danielle Rollins knows how to throw a good party—as well she should. The Atlanta-based hostess and tastemaker has feted the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose, and Rachel Roy, and now she’s finally sharing her secrets with the world.
Rollins’ first book, Soiree: Entertaining with Style (Rizzoli), showcases 15 events—from an intimate Mother’s Day garden party to a grand holiday celebration—and features anecdotes, recipes, insider tips, and beautiful photography from each.
We tasked Rollins with giving us seven timely pieces of advice for party hosts both experienced and amateur. Here’s what she came up with.
Focus on situational style. Let nature be your background and the seasons be your guide. For the fall, think about using things like pears, apples and kale, and pumpkin squash. Create a menu based on what you find at the farmers market.
Stay outdoors. Especially being from the South, we get really excited when the weather breaks after a hot summer. Do dinners outdoors as late as mid November if you can. Get huge piles of cashmere blankets and heaters by the tables. It creates a cozy element.
Involve the family. Give your party an intimate campfire vibe by making s’mores alongside a fire pit. In our day and age things move so quickly and we spend so much time in front of technology, so it’s nice to stop and connect with your family and the people you love on a real level.
Fall is all about rusticity. For a fall picnic, cover a picnic table in burlap and have bails of hay for seats. Fill clay pots with ice to hold wine. And to me, bourbon is a fall must-have. Try making a blood orange Old Fashioned for a twist on the classic.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. I’m incredibly organized about doing as much ahead of time as possible. I make templates of the place settings and walk around as if I’m a server, so I can think about how the servers are going to be passing through the party. I set everything on the table with post-it notes. I run any party like a precision military operation.
Add a special touch to store-bought items. There’s no way I’m going to waste all day making a beautiful tart if I can get one from the bakery that’s just as delicious. But I’ll top it with a homemade whipping cream seasoned with cardamom, or blow edible gold over store-bought ice cream scoops to make it look special. It doesn’t matter what you serve—just serve it pretty.
Try to relax. I have to tell myself that the people are there to enjoy being together and not to judge me. Not everything goes perfectly.