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Author Danielle Rollins Shares Her Entertaining Tips

This week Danielle Rollins, author of Soiree, joined us on Facebook for a chat and Q&A with fans.She provided so many great tips that we were compelled to round up all of them for any fans that might have missed the online chat on Wednesday. Whether you’re hosting a holiday brunch, intimate dinner or grand party, these tips will serve you well in your party preparations.



Throwing a party in a small city apartment “The biggest tip that I can give anyone is that it’s not the size of the space, it’s the amount of storage you have available. I love the Coleman camping tables that you can fold up and hide under your sofa. You can pull them out for a party, cover them with beautiful linens. Check out the party I did with Miles Redd from the September 2011 issue of Veranda. I did this party in a dressing room! Talk about a small space and thinking outside the box.”

Decorating for a spring party or gathering “Use the colors you already have. Look at what’s seasonal, too. I always try to start with the flowers. Look at the grocery store at florals that are available and then pair these with colors you already have. Think seasonal, think soft. For me, spring is about the paler colors: the pinks, the lavenders and the soft blues.”


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Creating a fun theme for a bridal shower “I love something that’s girly. I love a tea party presented in a modern way. It’s a perfect way to get a bunch of girls together and it’s less stress, since you can prepare or purchase all of the food ahead of time. Check out the girly-girly tea party on page 94 of my book for more ideas! There’s a great drink recipe on that page as well.”

Thinking outside the box for party food “One of my new favorite ideas that I’m planning on doing myself is a deviled eggs bar, where the deviled eggs are already prepared and we have Himalayan sea salt, crumbled candied bacon, smoked salt and capers and more toppings set up so people can personalize their deviled eggs. It’s something different and fun!”

How to relax and enjoy the party when you’re hosting “Honestly it’s all in the attitude. Prepare and set out as you can ahead of time. Even if it’s something that has to be assembled at the time of the party, try to prepare each part of that dish ahead of time. Also establish a timeline for yourself that allows you some time to get dressed, relax, and prepare before your guests arrive. It’s really about being with your guests and enjoying their company.”


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Entertaining with children “I usually have a separate children’s table where I can set up activities for the kids (keeping in mind very short attention spans!). It can be as simple as buckets of sidewalk chalk or personalizing Easter eggs. We also love to stage the Easter egg hunt about the time that the adults eat, and have the children eat first.” “With any children’s party it’s best to keep it simple and pick a theme based on something the children love — I did one for my own child around ladybugs of all things, and I have done another party with reptiles. It’s about capturing the child’s interests and imagination. How about splurging on a festive cake and don’t forget to take lots of pictures


How to set up the order of a buffet “Think form and function. Silverware, if it’s not on the table, should go first and should be rolled up in napkins. Then set out your stacks of plates. Place lighter foods at the beginning of the buffet and heavier foods and meats in the middle. I usually set up a separate dessert table, too. This way people can make multiple trips. The most important part of any buffet is to make multiple but smaller dishes of something for your table so you can keep things replenished easily. No one likes to take the last of anything!”


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Choosing registry items “It’s always important to only purchase what you use. If you don’t think you’re going to use fine china, skip it and invest in more casual pieces that you’ll use all the time. I love mixing and matching and I rarely use full sets the way they’re intended. Mixing and matching allows me to have a lot more freedom to expand on what I have. Also remember, this isn’t the last time you’re going to buy tableware. Start with a base collection that you can add to over time.”

Planning a baby shower theme and menu “I would start with the food and drink. Find out what your expecting mom has been craving. (Pregnant women can be quite picky!) Try to build your menu from there. As for decorations, you can riff on the colors of the nursery and create your theme and color scheme around that. Any part of entertaining is giving a gift of time, so find out what that person likes and you can never go wrong. One of my favorite baby showers I did was having all of the guests bring their favorite baby book. It created a very sweet present for the expecting mom.”


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Setting up a party menu for teen fashionistas “I love anything in mini. Remember, it’s not what you serve, it’s how you serve it. Think mini sliders, mini corn dogs, mini cupcakes, mini cones of french fries, or mini mac and cheese. You can also create a special drink for them in a shade of hot pink. I’m sure your budding fashionistas will love this menu!”

Pursuing a career in party planning “Try to find someone you can intern with or learn from. Ask as many people in that current profession how they got there, what they do, and their best advice. Take advice from any and every source you can get. Find something that’s unique that other people aren’t doing to create a niche for yourself in the market.”

Simple Easter centerpiece ideas “Decorate with baskets filled with pastel dyed Easter eggs, simple clay pots with hyacinths or other seasonal florals. I love Pottery Barn’s Easter collection, because it’s something you can reuse for other occasions.”  



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How to pair flowers with a terra cotta vase “Look at the colors in nature, think of a monarch butterfly or peacock — none of the colors seem to really match but they all coordinate! I love orange flowers, they are some of my very favorites. spiky protea pincushion flower, orange ranunculus, Seville roses… and don’t be afraid to mix multiple florals in the similar shades to keep it interesting.”

Throwing a simple and laid back high school graduation dinner party “Why not do something very simple? What about pizza? I have done a party outdoors where it was one long table and served simple pizzas, but served them on wooden pizza peels with salad passed family-style. Everyone loved it, it was easy, it was affordable and it was simple. Take a look at Southern Living, June 2011 on my website for inspiration.”


All photos courtesy Danielle Rollins

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