The 10 Best Entertaining Books of All Time

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Top 10 Best Entertaining Books - Elizabeth Taylor

A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.

Howdy, darlin’. Just in time for the start of the fall entertaining season, we’ve wrangled up the 10 best entertaining books of all time. These 10 tomes are as helpful and relevant today as they were on the day they were published. And, if you’re like us, this list couldn’t come at a better time. Did you know that there are nearly 20,000 books out there about hosting parties? Stir up a Cowboy Martini, and join us as we meander through the 10 entertaining classics that should be in every modern-day party host’s library.

In The Kennedy Style by Letitia Baldrige (1999)

Penned by Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary, Letitia Baldrige (1926-2012), this beautiful entertaining book captures the elegance, grace, and exceptional taste that became synonymous with Jackie’s reign as First Lady of the United States. Seldom-seen photographs and Letitia’s behind-the-scenes recollections bring their glittering parties to life.

Entertaining is Fun: How to be a Popular Hostess by Dorothy Draper (1941)

Dorothy Draper (1889-1969), one of the grand dames of modern interior design, was also one of the most stylish party hosts of her day. This charming and collectible classic is filled with fun ideas for hosting fabulously chic dinner and holiday parties.

Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Entertaining (2004)

Lilly Pulitzer (1931-2013) was as well-known for her Palm Beach parties as she was for her preppy frocks. With sections devoted to Mellow Yellow Mornings, Think Pink Afternoons, and True Blue Evenings, Essentially Lilly helps readers plan colorful events from sunrise to sunset in the designer’s signature “affluence at ease” style.

The Art of the Party by Renny Reynolds (2003)

In this gorgeous, photo-filled coffee table tome, Renny Reynolds, one of the greatest event planners of all time, shares his best entertaining secrets as well as ideas for glamorous color schemes, gorgeous table settings, and creative floral arrangements.

Hostess by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume (1961)

This classic treasure – written by Constance Spry (1886-1960), who was a florist and the founder of a domestic science school – is a charming read with still-relevant advice ranging from how to be a good listener to how to eat an artichoke.

Entertaining by Martha Stewart (1982)

Filled with hundreds of gorgeous photographs, original recipes, and innovative entertaining ideas, this is the book that launched Martha’s empire and revolutionized the way people thought about socializing at home.

Lulu Powers Food to Flowers by Lulu Powers (2010)

Written by Lulu Powers, one of L.A.’s top caterers and House Beautiful’s entertaining columnist, this fun book has it all: delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes, fabulously creative party ideas, and an insider’s tips on how to make your gatherings stand out. Lulu’s creative cocktail recipes, which she playfully calls “sneakies,” are a highlight.

Barefoot Contessa Parties by Ina Garten (2001)

In this entertaining classic, Ina Garten, the founder of the specialty food store Barefoot Contessa, shares the secrets she gleaned from years as a caterer and dedicated party giver. Her tips are inspiring, fun, and pragmatic, including how to think about and organize your parties like a caterer.

Effortless Elegance with Colin Cowie by Colin Cowie (1996)

In this helpful guide, Colin Cowie, known as the party planner to the stars, offers readers ideas, recipes, and menus to take the stress out of entertaining. Don’t miss Colin’s “When Time Is Short” dinner menu, which takes just one hour to create, and that includes shopping and preparation.

Dinner is Served by Arthur Inch and Arlene Hirst (2003) 

Co-written by a tabletop editor and a butler with more than 50 years of experience serving British nobles, this helpful book provides everything a party host needs to know about hosting a formal dinner party, from how to set the table and what china to use to how to make your guests feel comfortable. It also includes a fun and interesting history of fine dining.

The Best Entertaining Books Welcome Mashup

Welcome photo: Elizabeth Taylor
Welcome quote: Mae West

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