Our Panel of Entertaining Experts Spill Their Party-Hosting Secrets

published Nov 7, 2016
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Whether you’re the Martha of your friend group—whipping up a charcuterie board with all the finesse of a seasoned pro—or someone who thinks throwing a party feels just about as foreign as an original French copy of Je Sais Cuisiner, I know this is true: we all want to get better at entertaining.

That’s why we rounded up a panel of party-hosting experts—just in time for Thanksgiving and the following rush of holiday parties—to dish on their favorite entertaining secret weapons. These 13 pros shared with Apartment Therapy everything from their go-to cocktails, snacks and hostess gifts, to the lines they use when they’re trying to slyly creep out of a conversation.

It’s all because we know this truth about life at home: One of the joys of having a place that looks good and works even better is being able to share that place with your friends and family. To fill your space with laughter and candlelight and full bellies. If you’re the type who already loves to entertain—in fact, it’s the first thing you’d mention to your House Hunters realtor—I bet you’d be interested in discovering a few insider secrets from people who make a living making parties come to life. And if you’re the type who thinks entertaining is a scary and daunting task, these expert-approved tips and shortcuts will give you the confidence to finally give it a go.

But first, we figured that you should meet these party people— to find out what they do and, of course, how they came to know so much about throwing a great bash.

(And if you want to get right to the good stuff—their legend-making party hosting secrets—scroll to the bottom.)

Meet The Experts

(Image credit: Yoni Goldberg)

Lauren Conrad

TV personality, author and co-founder of The Little Market

Lauren Conrad is a television personality, New York Times bestselling author, fashion designer and philanthropist with over 10 million social media followers. Her latest book, Celebrate, debuted this March becoming her 7th New York Times Best Seller. Lauren continues to reach her fan base with daily postings on her ever popular lifestyle website LaurenConrad.com as well as give back with her website TheLittleMarket.com whose mission is to build sustainable partnerships with artisans around the world, by connecting them with customers through an online marketplace and to empower women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families.

(Image credit: Casey Brodley for Oh Joy!)

Joy Cho

Author, designer and founder of lifestyle brand Oh Joy!

Joy Cho is the founder and creative director of Oh Joy!—a lifestyle brand that includes a product line at Target, lifestyle videos, and a daily blog. She has also authored three books, including Oh Joy!: 60 Ways to Create and Give Joy. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Los Angeles.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Kate Arends)

Kate Arends

Creative designer and founder of Wit & Delight

Kate Arends is a St. Paul-based creative and the founder of Wit & Delight, a website dedicated to designing a life well lived. The name “Wit & Delight” was derived from Kate’s experience of discovering and developing her own personal style—”Wit” is a sharpness and quirkiness to the process, while “Delight” is finding the joy and the humor throughout each step. Kate lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, Joe Peters, and their sweet English labrador, Winnie Bear.

(Image credit: Jonas Jungblut)

Danny Seo

Environmental lifestyle expert

Through his quarterly lifestyle magazine and NBC television show Naturally, Danny Seo, as well as best-selling books, products, and syndicated newspaper column, environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo shares the creative ideas that have made him America’s leading authority on modern, eco-friendly living. His portfolio includes a line of home and beauty products, Danny Seo Philosophy organic wines, and more than nine bestselling books, including his first cookbook Naturally, Delicious: 100 Recipes For Healthy Eats That Make You Happy.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sarah Ashley Schiear)

Sarah Ashley Schiear

Entertaining expert and founder of Salt House Market

Sarah Ashley Schiear is an entertaining expert and the founder of Salt House Market, an online shopping experience designed to inspire your dream home. After appearing on The Taste and running a pop-up restaurant in downtown NYC, Sarah catered parties for clients ranging from the Olsen twins to Mango. Sarah launched the Salt House brand with her signature line of fashion-forward aprons in 2014, and has since expanded into e-commerce for all things kitchen and home.

P.S. Check out her house tour Sarah’s Small & Stylish Brooklyn Apartment

(Image credit: Courtesy of Camille Styles)

Camille Styles

Event stylist and founder of CamilleStyles.com

On the award-winning CamilleStyles.com, Camille shares creative ideas for living a happy and healthy life with hundreds of thousands of readers each month—her passion is to show readers approachable ways to elevate everyday moments. Camille is also the author of the bestselling book, Camille Styles Entertaining, as well as a regular lifestyle contributor to numerous media outlets and national lifestyle brands.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mandy Kellogg Rye)

Mandy Kellogg Rye

Stylist, blogger and founder of Waiting on Martha

A dreamer, a maker, and a doer, Mandy is so inspired by the art of creating a beautiful every day that she’s made it her personal mission and the mission of her multi-faceted brand to help others do the same in their lives. Her blog, Waiting on Martha, was originally penned as an homage to her favorite personality, the one and only Martha Stewart, and has now expanded to the Waiting on Martha Shop and a styling, design and consulting practice.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Holly Becker)

Holly Becker

Founder of Decor8 and author of Decorate for a Party

Holly Becker is an author, stylist and photographer who first launched Decor8 (pronounced decorate) in 2004 as a small interior design studio in Boston while still a student in design school. Today, Holly is also an international best-selling author with four books published under the “Decorate” series that are available in nearly twenty languages worldwide. Holly’s fourth book, Decorate For a Party, was released in September 2016.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Roxy Te Owens)

Roxy Te

Designer and founder of Society Social

Roxy Te, founder and designer of Society Social, is an ex–corporate rat racer turned self proclaimed dream chaser. Raised in her family’s furniture factory, Roxy grew up learning the ins and outs of creating exceptional pieces in an old school kind of way. Five years ago, Roxy followed in her family’s entrepreneurial footsteps and launched her own collection beginning with six originally-designed bar carts. Today, Society Social is a home décor and lifestyle brand that is known for its colorful furniture and playful spirit. Roxy believes that life is a party and that your home should be well equipped to celebrate it.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Michiel Perry)

Michiel Perry

Founder of lifestyle brand Black Southern Belle

Michiel Perry is a South Carolina girl who loves all things Southern and stylish. After planning her Charleston wedding and decorating her first home in Maryland, Michiel was inspired to develop a lifestyle brand focused on African-American women with a Southern connection called
Black Southern Belle. When she is not planning the next big thing for Black Southern Belle, Michiel is either shopping for antiques with her husband, watching historical documentaries or rearranging art in her new historic home in the Charleston area.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Ashley Rose)

Ashley Rose

DIY blogger and founder of Sugar & Cloth

Ashley Rose is the creative force behind
Sugar & Cloth, a DIY lifestyle blog based in Houston, TX. After a stint in art school, Ashley moved across the country and began blogging to share all of her creative endeavors with friends and family back home. Now, Sugar & Cloth has become a coveted lifestyle destination for all-things DIY, including food, home décor, creative entertaining, and travel. Since launching in 2011, Sugar & Cloth has been named Editor’s choice for Best DIY Blog by Better Homes and Gardens, a Top 10 DIY Blog by Yahoo!, and has earned acclaim from The Huffington Post, Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Good Housekeeping, HGTV, and more.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Chantal Aida Gordon)

Chantal Aida Gordon

Writer, editor and co-founder of The Horticult

Chantal Aida Gordon is the cofounder, with Ryan Benoit, of The Horticult, a gardening lifestyle site for plant enthusiasts and design sticklers. When she’s not planting cacti, she writes ads in Los Angeles.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Jordan Ferney)

Jordan Ferney

Lifestyle blogger and founder of Oh Happy Day!

Jordan Ferney is the founder and editor at Oh Happy Day, a design and lifestyle blog known for it’s original and fun DIY projects and party ideas, which has expanded to include the Oh Happy Day Party Shop. Jordan has been featured in Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Sunset Magazine, Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, Budget Living, and Anthology Magazine. Jordan likes to spend time taking pictures in her vintage photobooth and hanging with her family in San Francisco.

Now Read Their Advice

These perfect party hosts shared all their best secrets.