Holiday—aka party—season is upon us. Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, New Year's Eve ... the list of events you are either getting ready to attend or to host goes probably seems endless.
And if tablescaping and planning menus is your thing, then it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Need some inspiration as you decorate your desserts to match your flower arrangements? Or sift through Pinterest to pick a party theme? We've got you covered. We reached out to five event planning pros and asked them to spill the best entertaining book they've ever read.
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From Ina Garten's best party recipes to designer Kate Spade's top tips for throwing an elegant fête, here are five books the experts swear by that are guaranteed to up your entertaining game this holiday season.
1. Barefoot Contessa Parties!, by Ina Garten
Suggested by: Rachel Bruzek, D’Amico Catering
Why do you like the book? I like Ina’s way of entertaining. It’s all about the guest experience, which is something I live by at home and strive for in all the events I create.
Best tip you learned from it? Never let the guest know you have been slaving away for hours or days on the party.
Favorite sentence from it: “…I learned to stay focused: Parties are 'recess' for grown-ups, and I want everyone to go home saying, ‘Wasn’t that fun!’ So now I plan everything with that in mind.”
2. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, by The Disney Institute and Theodore Kinni
Suggested by: Kevin Dennis, JWIC, WeddingIQ
Why do you like the book? Disneyland has always been a longtime family favorite—there is no one who does hospitality better. Many of their systems and concepts are ones that we can put into practice for our events so this is an often revisited resource in the office.
Best tip you learned from it? Pay close attention to every aspect of the guest experience from beginning to end.
Favorite sentence: "It's the little whispers that speak to an audience."
3. Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans, by Lolis Eric Elie
Suggested by: Emily Sullivan, Emily Sullivan Events
Why do you like the book? As a planner, I often find myself in the position of storyteller with my couples, most of which are from out of town and eager to share their love of New Orleans with their guests. Treme not only inspires our wedding day menu selections but gives equal weight to both the recipes and the stories behind them.
Best tip you learned from it? Heritage and contemporary menus equally have a place at the table. Your menu can pay homage to your regional roots while still looking forward to what’s next.
Favorite sentence from it? "If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing."
4. What to Drink with What You Eat, by Andrew Dornenburg and Michael Sofronski
Suggested by: Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events Group
Why you like the book? This book is the perfect guide for food and beverage pairings— it has allowed me to get more inventive with couples as we work together to create a dining experience for their guests.
Best tip you learned from it? There are far more options available than the classic combinations used in restaurants for decades. Advancements in wine making along with the sheer competition at the international level, has made wines from all over the globe far more accessible to couples.
Favorite sentence: "Enjoyment is not limited to bottles with corks."
5. Occasions, by Kate Spade
Suggested by: Dana Y. Briggs, Elegantly Yours Events
Why do you like the book? We are constantly creating perfect memories and timeless events for our clients, so it’s refreshing to scroll through the pages of this book where Kate makes you feel that we shouldn't place emphasis on the perfect meal or place setting but instead focus more on having an unforgettable time with your guests at your own dinner party!
Best tip you learned from it? Making your guests feel at home is truly an art, and it is one that is worth cultivating, whatever the occasion.
Favorite sentence from it? “As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about an indoor party is cut flowers.”