RSVP: Lisa McRee

Lisa McRee

Come on in, darlin’. You’re just in time to meet super salonnière, Lisa McRee. A television journalist – you’ll remember her as a co-host of Good Morning America – and the founder of The Skinny, a website filled with healthy recipes, Lisa is one of L.A.’s most skilled and gracious party hosts. Lisa’s hubbie, Don, may be producing the next Mission: Impossible film but, where parties are concerned, every mission is possible for this gorgeous gal. Dinner for 100 without a caterer? No problem! Join us as Lisa dishes about everything from how she stays party ready for drop-in guests and her favorite entertaining products to that little breakfast soirèe she once had with the late Julia Child.

How would you describe your entertaining style?

Whether I’m hosting a casual Sunday supper or a formal sit-down dinner, I always hope to hit that sweet spot of easygoing elegance and eclectic energy.

Lisa McRee

Lisa’s dinner parties always include a mix of interesting guests

How often do you entertain? 

Whenever I’m asked…or have an itch!  I’m a sucker for school and parent events. Over the last few months, I’ve hosted a lunch for 70, a taco and margarita night for 130 and a cocktail buffet for 50. Visiting house guests always deserve a dinner for 12 or 16. Book club is a party for 20 and, because we have dear friends in the neighborhood, we love easy dinners for three of four couples whenever it’s been too long since we’ve all been together.

Where does your love of entertaining come from?

It was a way for me to have a life while doing television news! Whether anchoring the 5 and 11 pm news in L.A., getting up at 4 am and going to bed at 8 pm for Good Morning America, or working for ABC’s overnight show, World News Now, I’ve had some pretty lousy schedules. Planning a party at home was the only way I could make sure my friends didn’t dump me for ignoring them!

Who would join you at your dream dinner party for 10?

My husband, Don Granger, Don’s grandfather, Armand Deutsch, Bill Clinton, George Walker Bush, Walter Annenberg, Cher, Bette Midler, Joan Didion and Angelina Jolie because she is more amazing as the years go by.

Lisa McRee

The “piano bar”  at Lisa and Don’s lovely L.A. home

What are your tips for putting together a great guest list?

Find commonality.  Here’s an example: I did a party for my visiting friend, Liv Rockefeller, who is half Norwegian.  Her mother’s husband was the Kon Tiki explorer, Thor Heyerdahl. I invited one of my dearest friends, Lucy Dahl, whose father Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda and many other books, was born to Norwegian parents. I also invited my publicist friend, Bumble Ward who is half Norwegian. Liv’s husband is an art dealer, so I invited art collectors, Maria and Bill Bell and Liane and Richard Weintraub. It was such a fun night and everyone left as great friends and knowing how to swear in Norwegian!

What are your tips for engaging a shy or boring dinner partner?

My favorite is one I learned from the Annenbergs – send a note to everyone who is coming to tell them who else is coming and why you think they’d like to meet each other. There are also fun table games you can play. You can ask your guests to answer any one of these questions: “What was your best summer and why?” or “When you were 15, what did you aspire to be?” or “What is the secret that no more than two people at this table know about you?” or “What about your first girlfriend or boyfriend led you to the partner you’re with today?” It’s surprising how people open up when talking about their past.

Indian Grilled Chicken w Pineapple Jalapeno Sauce and fresh Pineapple

Indian Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Jalapeno Sauce and Fresh Pineapple

You recently cooked for 100 guests, which is a brave undertaking! How did you do it?

In a way, big parties are easier than small parties because you tend to make a battle plan and stick to it.  Sauces, pesto, tapenades, hummus and dressings can be made three days out. Meats can be marinated two days out.  You can make a quinoa salad the day before and add the rest of the ingredients on party day. Veggies can be poached and chilled or roasted ahead and drizzled or tossed with a sauce or pesto just before serving. If you want gorgonzola stuffed dates wrapped in sage leaves and bacon, you can assemble them the day before and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes as guests arrive.  If you concentrate on filling the table with all those pre-prepared dishes, you’ll only have to worry about cooking your major proteins at party time.

Do you ever hire a caterer?

I hire caterers like Helene Henderson of Malibu Farm and Wolfgang Puck Catering for weddings, anniversary parties and other huge events. But the key to the events I do for more than 10 people is to hire a sous chef.  She’ll arrive a few hours before the party, cook all the proteins and any hot appetizers that I’ve prepared, and plate and place everything how and where it needs to be. I pay her $40 or $50 an hour – it’s money well spent and much cheaper than hiring a caterer.

How do you stay party ready?

I make batches of crab cakes and freeze them, uncooked, on a baking sheet. Once frozen, I store them in freezer bags by the dozen so they can be popped in the oven and cooked on short notice.  If you have canned garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic and lemon, you can make hummus on the fly. Keep pita or naan in the freezer and veggies in the fridge to serve with it. Of course, there are always nuts in sealed jars and dark chocolate covered berries to help fill in the gaps.

I understand that you had a Julia Child moment. Tell me about that. 

Back when Julia was a regular guest on Good Morning America, she’d be there at 5 am to get her dishes prepared and was very keen on a little breakfast red wine.  I thought it would be rude to not join her!

You’re having a spring dinner party. Tell us about your:

HerendDinnerware: I have a weakness for collecting dinnerware and use every bit of it. In spring, Herend’s Chinese Bouquet in Green. I also have stacks of mismatched vintage china collected from flea markets. They’re perfect in the garden because, if one breaks, there’s always another flea market before the next party!


Flatware: My wedding silver is by Tuttle, it’s heavy and beautiful and I always use it for formal dining room parties. But I also have several sets of antique silver that I’ll use for more casual affairs outside.


Stemware: For dining room dinners, William Yeoward’s Fern wine goblets are my favorite,  but I use Waterford water glasses because they’re not as precious and are sturdy enough for the dishwasher. For casual parties outside, I’ll use my hand-blown blue Mexican stemware and glassware or some funky but interesting sets from Anthropologie.

William Sonoma Home

Linens: For fancy pants parties, I have some beautiful antique linens handed down from my husband’s family as well as some gorgeous linen and lace cocktail and dinner napkins and placemats that once belonged to Gary Cooper. His daughter is my husband’s Godmother and she gave them to me when her mother passed away. For more casual dinners, I’ll use William Sonoma Home linen napkins in white or cream  and, for BBQs or lobster bakes, you can’t beat IKEA’s linen dish towels with the red stripes on the edge.

Luxe Linen Candle

Powder room candleAquiesse in Luxe Linen


Powder room soapL’Occitane Verbena liquid hand soap

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to be a great party host?

Relax. Relax. Relax. It’s not about showing off or being fancy. It’s about the people you love and the food you want to eat. That said, plan ahead, fill the table with easy dishes and hire someone to do the washing up so you can enjoy the party fully. Oh, and keep floss near your compact. There’s nothing worse than making a toast that ends up on Facebook and realizing you have a pound of broccolini in your front teeth!

For more information about Lisa, and to download her favorite healthy and delicious party recipes, visit her website, The Skinny here.

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The Sally Award: Lily James

Lily James

There is no one more fun to watch on the red carpet these days than English actress, Lily James. She’s beautiful, of course, but it’s the way she uses fashion, hair and make up to transform her look that inspires us. While Lily’s style at the various Cinderella premieres has run the gamut from prim to polished, it was her sleek and sophisticated look at this week’s London premiere that made her a shoo-in for this week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week.

Lily James
Stunning in a silver Balenciaga gown with a thigh-high slit and large golden-bronze buttons, Lily carried the high-fashion look forward with sleek, center-parted hair, bold brows, smoky eyes and a bright pink pout. Her custom-made, matching shoes kept the look clean, while a collection of diamond rings and earrings from Repossi added a fun, fresh and modern touch.


Congratulations to Lily and her Sally-Award-winning style team: stylist, Rebecca Corbin Murray, make up artist, Lisa Eldridge, and hair stylist, Daniel Martin. As Cinderella knows better than anyone, magical things happen when everything fits perfectly.

Inspired by Lily’s party look? Try these fête-chic treasures:

MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus

MAC Viva Glam Lipstick


Jimmy Choo Anthracite Lamé Glitter Fabric Sandals

Kevin Dundon’s Irish Èclairs

Kevin Dundon

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, darlin’. Come on in, you’re just in time to meet Kevin Dundon, one of Ireland’s most famous chefs. A restaurateur, television personality, and author of several cookbooks, including his latest tome, Back to Basics, Kevin has cooked for everyone from Queen Elizabeth and George W. Bush to Bono. Kevin is in our kitchen today to show us how to make his favorite St. Patrick’s Day party food: St. Patrick’s Day Chocolate Èclairs. Says Kevin, “The idea of making choux pastry fills a lot of people with dread, but follow this easy recipe for a pastry that’s sure to impress every time.” Make and serve it today, though. “It’s best enjoyed on the day,” says Kevin.

St. Patrick’s Day Chocolate Èclairs

Serves 4

60 ml/2 fl oz milk
60 ml/2 fl oz water
1 tsp caster sugar
55g/1 ¾ oz butter
135g/5 oz flour
2 large eggs
1 egg wash made of 1 egg yolk mixed with milk

Chocolate Mousse
250g dark chocolate
300ml fresh cream, lightly whipped
2 eggs, separated

100g icing sugar
½ lemon, juiced
1 – 2 drops green food coloring

First, prepare the choux pastry.

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Place the butter, sugar, milk and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and immediately add the flour. Stir briskly and place on a medium heat until the mixture forms a soft dough and leaves the side of the saucepan dry. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each addition, the mixture should be smooth and glossy. Fill a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe 6cm long éclair onto a parchment lined baking tray. Leave a large space between each éclair. Lightly brush each éclair with a light coating of egg wash.

Place in a preheated oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until they are golden brown and have no moisture in them. Place on a wire rack to cool

In the meantime, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whip the cream and set aside until needed. Remove from the simmering water, and stir the egg yolks. The mixture will stiffen immediately. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. The cream will soften the mixture down and loosen its consistency.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until very stiff and gently fold them into the chocolate cream mixture. This will add air and lightness to the actual mousse.

Fill the éclair with the chocolate mousse and leave on the wire rack.

Now, prepare the green icing by mixing in a bowl the icing sugar, lemon juice, and coloring. Dip the top of the éclairs into icing and place into a rack to set.

Kevin Dundon Back To Basics cover

For more information about Kevin, please visit Back to Basics and Kevin’s other cookbooks may be purchased on his website or here.

Images: Kevin Dundon

The Sally Award: Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron
Mimosas all around, darlin’. This is easy breezy party dressing at its best. For that reason, we’re giving this week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week to Charlize Theron, who looked effortless and elegant in Gucci at the Los Angeles premiere of The Gunman on March 12th. Part of Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2015 Collection, this slinky blue mini – the perfect choice for showcasing the longest legs in Hollywood – is a chic nod to the season’s bohemian trend.


Charlize’s unfussy hair and make up and simple Stuart Weitzman stilettos kept the look light and airy, while her satin clutch added a festive touch that picked up the taupe tones in the fabric. Inspired? Get Charlize’s party-perfect look here:


Gucci Fantasy Print Dress

Stuart Weitzman

Stuart Weitzman Nudist Sandals

Images: Getty, Gucci, Stuart Weitzman

The SalonniereFor glimpses of fête-chic style and chances to win some great soirée swag, follow us on Instagram where we’ve already given away thousands of dollars worth of party-perfect items and gift cards.

St. Patrick’s Day: Poitín

Mia Farrow

I’ll have what she’s having.

If you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in classic Irish style, you may want to serve up some poitín, which is also known as poteen or potcheen or just plain Irish moonshine. A potent whiskey-like spirit said to have been created by an Irish monk in 584 AD, poitín (pronounced po-cheen) is about as close as you can get to the official giggle water of Éire. Like champagne, poitín enjoys Geographical Indicative Status so the real thing can only come from Ireland.


A word of warning, though. This stuff packs a serious punch and can leave you fluthered in no time. In 1661, poitín was outlawed by King Charles because of its potency and it took until 1997 for the elixir to become legal for consumption again. Not that a little law got in the way of the Irish drinking this hootch for 300 years, mind you. They just made it at home.

Glendalough Poitin

Traditionally, poitín, which takes its name from the Irish word “pota” or pot, was distilled in small pots using potatoes, malted barley, crab apples and whatever other ingredients may have been on hand. Today, there are a number of Irish distilleries that are producing and exporting poitín. Among the best are Knockeen Hills, which offers a formula as stiff as the one that rubbed King Charles the wrong way, Glendalough, Bunratty Mead, and Coomara, which offers a less potent and more drinkable version flavored with wild berries and orchard fruits.

Poitín can be enjoyed straight up or used as a cocktail base instead of gin, tequila, vodka or whiskey. For St. Patrick’s Day, we suggest serving the Emerald Isle, a cocktail green in color that features a mix of poitín, Bailey’s Irish Cream, brandy, Crème de Menthe, Tia Maria and ice all shaken together.

 Poteen Drinker,” a painting by Brian Whelan

Poitín may be purchased at specialty liquor stores or online at Drink Up NYThe Drink Shop or The Whisky Exchange. Or you can simply do what the Irish did for all those centuries and brew up a batch of your own at home.

Poitín (based on an 1842 recipe)

Boil 5 gallons of water and pour it over a mix of ten pounds of rolled oats (unflavored oatmeal) that has had a pound of 6 row barley (ground) and mixed in to it. Allow this to sit until it is cool enough to add yeast, then add a dry ale yeast and 15 drops of liquid Beano (or three of the pills). When you add the yeast/Beano enzyme to the cooled mash, it may be thick, like stiff oatmeal. Don’t worry. The yeast breaks it down with the Beano as it is fermenting. Within a day it will be a liquid with grain floating in it. Ferment until dry. Double distill it in a pot still. Enjoy it with care. Recipe source:

As the Irish like to say, Beannachtam na Femle Padraig (happy St. Patrick’s Day)!

Introductory photo: Mia Farrow
Introductory quote: When Harry Met Sally, 1989

Image sources: Glendalough, Brian Whelan

igFor glimpses of fête-chic style and chances to win some great soirée swag, follow us on Instagram where we’ve already given away thousands of dollars worth of fabulous gift cards and other party favors.

The 10 Best Martini Tables

Audrey Hepburn

All I need is the air I breathe and a place to rest my head.

Like the drinks for which they’re named, martini tables are classic and sophisticated. Place one next to an occasional chair and your guests will always have a chic spot to set their drink. Here are our picks for the 10 best martini tables…straight up, doll.



Brass and Glass Table circa 1960


Milo Baughman Style Martini Table

Bell Table by Sebastian HerknerBell Table by Sebastian Herkner


  Faux Tortoise Table


Aubrey Chairside Table by Bernhardt


Petrified Wood Table by Caracole

Made Good

Side Table by Made Goods

Dakota Jackson

Marina Martini Table by Dakota Jackson


 Saarinen Side Table


Root  Side Table

Introductory photo: Audrey Hepburn
Introductory quote: One Republic

The SalonniereFor glimpses of fête-chic style and chances to win soirée swag like gift cards and entertaining products, follow us on on Instagram where we’ve already given away thousands of dollars worth of fabulous party favors.

The Sally Award: Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

This week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week goes to Julianne Moore who practically rolled up and stole the Oscar red carpet last Sunday in a masterpiece of a gown created for the actress by Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel. According to Chanel, it took 27 workers 987 hours to create the show-stopping organza dress, which featured 80,000 “small, white, hand-painted resin sequins and flowers made of ivory, beige and black organza, tulle and sequins.”


Moore’s deep-parted low chignon, styled by Marcus Francis, and glamorous makeup by Elaine Offers added the perfect final and very French touches of elegance to her look. To get the perfect warm shade of berry for Julianne’s lips, Offers used a combination of two L’Oreal lip colors: Unending Amber, a rose-brown lipstick, and Raisin Revival, a plum-colored gloss. Congratulations are also in order for Leslie Fremar, the stylist behind Moore’s Oscar look. Let’s face it, on Sunday night, Moore was more and then some.

Photo sources: The New York Times and Associated Press

Tête-à-Tête: Wendy Carduner

Psst, follow us. We’re on our way into Doubles, the chic private club in New York’s Sherry-Netherland Hotel, to chat with Wendy Carduner, who has been the club’s deft and diplomatic proprietor since 1982. The social home-away-from-home for generations of New Yorkers with surnames like Roosevelt, Rockefeller and Hearst, Doubles has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the best places in New York to dine, dance and socialize. The mere act of descending the club’s fabled red staircase is a rite of passage into the marvelous world of mingling established by predecessor clubs like El Morocco and The Stork Club. She may run Doubles, but Wendy is single-minded when it comes to making her guests feel welcome and comfortable. Pull up a chaise rouge, doll, and listen in.

Doubles has been in business for nearly 40 years, since your father founded it in 1976. What is the secret to its longevity?

Our members, their families and their guests continue to look for and enjoy an atmosphere and environment that is safe, civilized and very comfortable, where everyone dresses and behaves nicely. In addition, the staff at Doubles enjoys being here and they definitely contribute to the welcoming environment. Also, we have evolved over the past 39 years and continue to update our decor and club events as social habits and the world around us change.

The legendary red staircase that leads into Doubles

How has the social world changed over the decades?

When Doubles opened in 1976, most women were not working and, every night, members drank and danced until 2 am. Then, women became more active professionally and told their husbands they had 8 am meetings and needed to go home. When the stock market hours became longer, and we changed to a global economy, men started spending more time at work and less at play. Women began going away to spas that convinced them not to drink their calories and those who used to order glasses of white wine at lunch returned from vacation ordering Perrier with lime. Years and years ago, members from Connecticut used to drive to New York City on Saturday nights, come to Doubles and party until 1 am. When the drinking and driving laws changed, their habits changed, too, and they began staying in Connecticut. Along the way, there have been recessions and televised wars, which made people feel unpatriotic if they were out celebrating while our troops were engaged in battle. People are now drinking less, exercising more, going to bed earlier and working longer hours. Everyone continues to give parties large and small but the principal difference is whether they give them in New York, at their weekend home or a third home or while away on vacation.

Club members enjoy a party at Doubles

You host more than 200 events a year at the club, which is an incredible creative feat. How do you keep them fresh? 

I sit down with our chef, Steve Mellina, and discuss which events continue to be successful and which need to be changed and, together, we improve the favorites and create new ones.

What are your must-haves for the parties you host at Doubles? 

Everything has to be set up perfectly and ready when guests arrive. The staff must be attentive, the food must come out properly, in a timely fashion, and be delicious. Drinks, wine and champagne must be plentiful. The lighting must be set at the beginning of the party and adjusted throughout the evening. Meaningful and amusing toasts must be given to make the evening more memorable for everyone present. Music and dancing are extremely important to a party. Assuming all of the above go as planned, a successful party is all about momentum, momentum, momentum.

Wendy with Kamie Lightburn and Margot Takian at the Doubles 38th Anniversary Gala

You say dancing is important at a party. What is your best strategy for getting people on the dance floor?

The most important element is the DJ who needs to understand the audience. We usually begin dancing after everyone has finished their entree. If it’s a party, it’s important for the host and hostess to step on the dance floor first. Once people begin to dance, the dancing is usually non-stop.

Speaking of footwork, you spend so much time on your feet. What is your go-to party shoe?

Jimmy Choo

David Monn’s “Red Party” at Double’s 

What are some of your favorite party resources in New York?

The event planner who has impressed me most is David Monn. Years ago, he enhanced the red color theme of the club for a birthday celebration and created the most magical evening ever.

You’re known as one of the most gracious event hosts in New York. What are the traits that define a good party host?

I think it is very important to be intimately involved with and carefully review ALL the details of a party during the planning stages and to follow up on them before the party begins. Also, always be polite, nice, well dressed and helpful and treat the staff with respect.

And the traits of a great guest?

A good guest is always gracious and makes an effort at a party to socialize with people they do and do not know. At a dinner party, a great guest will make the same effort with their dinner partner regardless of how challenging the situation might be.

You’ve had the opportunity to know many of the most socially-skilled people in the world, people like Pat Buckley, Nan Kempner and Harry Platt. What did you learn from them and what characteristics did they share?

They were all very gracious, very supportive and very sincere.

The front bar at Doubles

You were very close to your father. What are the most important lessons that he taught you?

He always taught me to be honest and sincere and encouraged me to do my very best regardless of the challenges before me. I believe my father would be very proud of where Doubles is today and also very proud of my contributions and devotion to the club.

We agree. Here’s to you, Wendy, and thanks for having us.  

Image sources: Gotham Magazine, New York Social Diary, Annie Watt, David Monn, Cutty McGill

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The Sally Award: Olivia Palermo

Olivia PalermoThis week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week goes to style blogger, Olivia Palermo, in Tommy Hilfiger at the week-long party known as New York Fashion Week. Olivia  looked fabulous going from show to party to show, but it was this Bordeaux red, black and white striped topper and coordinating turtleneck and flared trousers that she wore to the Hilfiger presentation on Monday that really inspired us. Effortlessly chic, this is casual party style at its all-American best. Three cheers, doll.

The Duchess of Maine

Gather round, darlin’. It’s time to pay tribute to another party girl from the past. Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon, who became known as the Duchess of Maine, was a princesse du sang, that is she descended from French royalty, specifically, the House of Bourbon. In other words, this gal had a helluva heritage. But things weren’t all rosy for our princess. Forget the House of Bourbon, did I mention that this sally also spent some time in the “big house?” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Fetch yourself a glass of Dom Pérignon, a favored libation at the court of Versailles, and let me tell you a story so entrancing that you’ll want to share it at your next cocktail party.

Le Duc de Maine

Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon was born on November 8th 1676, in Paris to Anne Henriette of Bavaria and Henri Jules de Bourbon, the Prince of Condé. At the age of 15, Louise Bénédicte was thrust into an arranged marriage with 21-year-old Louis Auguste de Bourbon, the Duke of Maine. It was not a happy marriage so a displeased Louise Bénédicte took up residence away from the Duke at the Château de Sceaux, a countryside estate. There, she threw herself into the party life, entertaining with great originality. For example, our gal created her own little chivalric court called the Order of the Honey Bee, where members donned wigs in the shape of a beehive and she became known as La Reine des Abeilles or “the queen of the bees.”

Château de Sceaux

Into her little salon swarmed the top wits and literary figures of the day, including a young Voltaire, the baron de Montesquieu, the cardinal de Bernis, Charles-Jean-François Hénault and Jean-Baptiste Rousseau. But, in 1715, things took a bit of a turn. After failing in an elaborate bid to ensure herself a large inheritance from the House of Bourbon, Louise Bénédicte convinced her husband to join in a conspiracy to transfer the regency to the King of Spain. The plot was discovered, and, in 1719, she and the Duke were imprisoned. Our bee was released a year later and returned to the Château de Sceaux where she jumped right back into her partying ways.


The Duchess of Maine in her salon

Louise Bénédicte died in Paris in 1753 at the age of 76. A salonniere with brains and pluck, the Duchess de Maine – the queen of bees – is still creating a buzz after all these years. Cheers, doll.

The Sally Award: Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner

This week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week goes to model Kendall Jenner who looked red hot at Wednesday night’s amfAR Gala in New York City in a gorgeous and architectural Romona Keveza gown.

Kendall Jenner

Complemented by classic diamonds jewels and gold glitter Christian Louboutin pumps that lengthened her already from-here-to-there gams, this look is as classic and sophisticated as it is fashion forward and sexy.

Kendall Jenner
Our scarlet starlet’s choice of a relaxed, swept-back do and a bold lip in the perfect shade of red were impeccable. Red alert, fellow party lovers. This Kardashian is more than keeping up. Well done, doll.

Images: Splash News, Film Magic, GC Images

Valentine’s Day Centerpieces

I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you.

Floral centerpieces are a great way to add romance to a dinner party pour deux but they can do a lot more than that. Because every flower has a meaning, posies can also be used to send a message. Too shy to tell your new beau that you’re smitten? A tabletop arrangement of camellias says, “I adore you.” Ready to take the plunge? Cleomes – corsage code for “elope with me” – can kick off the conversation. This Valentine’s Day, let your centerpiece do the talking. Simply pick your moment and then tell your Valentine what’s on your table and on your mind. All these blooms are generally available year-round at flower markets and through floral designers and online sources. Here’s to love, baby.

Red roses say “I love you passionately and respect you.”


Red tulips say, “You’re my one true love.”


Gardenias, which look beautiful floating in bowls of water, say, “You’re my secret love.”


Orange roses say, “I am fascinated by you.”

Camellias say, “I adore you.”


Ranunculus say, “I am dazzled by your charms.”

Red carnations, which look best in tightly-packed bunches, say, “I love you deeply and with great affection.”

WS057-14 Hyacinth say, “I feel playful.”


Cleomes, more commonly known as spider flowers, say, “Elope with me.”

For more about the secret language of flowers, click here. For more centerpiece ideas, follow our Party Flowers and Decor board on Pinterest.

Introductory photo: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
Introductory quote: A Place in the Sun

Floral images: Pinterest, Michael George Flowers, Carolyne Roehm, Southern Weddings, Go Make Me

Follow The Salonniere ‘s board Puttin’ on the Ritz: Party Decor on Pinterest.

The Sally Award: Camila Alves

Mornin’, doll. Let’s chat party frocks, shall we? With all the recent soirees in Hollywood and Paris, there were a host of first-class party looks from which to select this week’s best. But the standout – the winner of this week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week – was Camila Alves who looked sensational in an amethyst-hued Donna Karan Atelier gown at the SAG Awards.

Talk about aplomb. By pairing this show-stopping gown with simple jewels and natural make up, the Brazilian model and former host of Shear Genius struck the perfect balance between the razzle-dazzle of a red carpet moment and the easygoing vibe of the SAG Awards.

I mean, really. Has Camila ever looked better? Everything here – from the gown’s silhouette and shade to our gal’s flawless brows and the way her side-swept hair echoed and balanced the draping train – was perfect. Sheer genius is right, doll. Well done.

Super Bowl Sunday: Aletails

Where’d you get that, dark and handsome?

Hi-de-ho, doll. Planning a Super Bowl soirée? If so, you’re probably already stocking up on the suds. But why not kick things off on Sunday night with a beer-based signature cocktail instead of the straight stuff? Aletails, as  they’re called, are festive, delicious and the cat’s meow with salty and spicy game-day nibbles. Here are five of our favorites to consider. Choose a stout-based drink to warm the crowd or a lighter brew for a refreshing touch. The best part? Making them is, you guessed it, a snap.

The Stout and Stormy (created by Goat Town in New York City)

8 ounces of Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout
1 ounce ginger syrup
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

Shake the ginger syrup and lime juice with ice to create the ginger beer base. Strain the mixture into a pint glass full of ice. Float the stout on top of  the mixture and garnish with a lime wedge. Stir gently with a straw to combine the ingredients before drinking. Add extra lime juice, if desired.

Sriracha-Lada (created by Bon Appetit)

1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Sriracha
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
Mexican lager such as Pacifico

Combine lime juice, Sriracha, and Worcestershire sauce in a salt-rimmed pint glass filled with ice. Top off with lager. Garnish with lime wheel.


The Cure

1 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
5 ounces light lager such as Sankaty Light by Cisco Brewers or Sam Adams light
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
5 one-inch pieces peeled fresh ginger cut into thin matchsticks

Fill 12-ounce cooler or highball glass with ice cubes. Add ginger liqueur, beer, and lemon juice and stir until combined. Garnish with ginger sticks.


The Irish Russian

1 ounce vodka
1 ounce Kahlúa
1 dash Coca-Cola
6 ounces of good stout

Add the ingredients in the order listed above. Add the stout with care to prevent an excess of foam.

The Beer’s Knees

1-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce freshly pressed lemon juice
1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
3 ounces hefeweizen-style beer (a German style of wheat beer)  like Widmer Hefeweizen
1 lemon wedge for garnish

Combine gin, juice and honey syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a collins glass with or without ice. Top with beer and garnish with lemon.

And when it’s time to make your toast…

You foam within our glasses, you lusty golden brew,
Whoever imbibes takes fire from you.
The young and the old sing your praises,
Here’s to beer,
Here’s to cheer,
Here’s to beer!

- From The Bartered Bride, a comic opera composed in the 1860s

Introductory photo: Lone Andre, 1940s
Introductory quote: She Done Him Wrong, 1933

Photos: Goat Town, Bon Appetit, Epicurious,Foodviva, Aviation Gin

Party Hopping: The 2015 Philharmoniker Ball

 The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.

Attending a ball in Vienna is like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale: it takes place in an enchanted setting and brims with magical elements, folklore and fantasy. My husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to waltz into the fairy tale that is the Philharmoniker Ball in Vienna last Thursday evening as the guests of Alexa Wesner, the U.S. Ambassador to Austria, and her husband, Blaine, a venture capitalist. One of Vienna’s premier annual social events, the Philharmoniker Ball dates back to 1924 and none of the splendor and pageantry has been lost in the years since. Ladies still wear ball gowns, men don white tie, tails and medals and debutantes come from all over Europe to be presented to Vienna society. Join us as we take you inside the 2015 Philharmoniker Ball.

Our fairy tale evening began with a divine private dinner hosted by the Ambassador and her husband at the Palais Coburg, a grand palace completed in 1845 that now serves as a five-star hotel and has one of the finest wine collections in the world. Thanks to the generosity of another of the evening’s guests, our dinner included one of the most prized bottles in the Palais Coburg collection: a Balthazar (the equivalent of 16 standard wine bottles) of one of the most delicious and complex wines I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste: a 1961 Premier Grand Cru Classe Chateau Latour.

At 10 pm, the official start time of the Ball, we arrived at the event venue, The Wiener Musikverein, a magnificent neoclassical concert hall built in 1863 that is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. It is worth noting that The Musikverein was so well designed and constructed that, despite the fact that it has none of the modern applications of acoustics science, it is regarded as one of the finest concert halls in the world. One need only hear how the orchestra sounds fill the 161-foot-long and 59-foot-tall Golden Hall to understand why.

Colorful flowers lined the many balconies and stairwells of The Musikverein

Following the opening ceremony, the dignitaries were seated behind the Philharmonic for the orchestral performance and presentation of the debutantes

Upon arriving, Ambassador and Mr. Wesner excused themselves to participate in the Ball’s opening ceremonies while we took our seats in a loge overlooking the dance floor. From there, we watched the dignitaries proceed ceremoniously into the Golden Hall to the same Richard Strauss music that has been played at every Philharmoniker Ball opening procession since 1924. Vienna’s respect for history and tradition was palpable.

The debutantes present themselves to Vienna society

The Vienna Philharmonic performs at the 2015 Philharmoniker Ball

Once the dignitaries took their seats behind the Philharmonic, the hundreds of debutantes, all wearing white ball gowns and crystal treble clef pins in their hair, walked into the Hall holding the hands of their dance partners. They entered to great fanfare and soon began to waltz counter-clockwise around the floor in breathtaking harmony. At the conclusion of their dance, the Master of Dance, a dance barker of sorts and the only official to speak during the entire evening, proclaimed “Alles Walzer!”, which signaled to the crowd that it was time to join the debutantes on the dance floor.

Debutantes waltzing at the Philharmoniker Ball

Over the course of the next six hours, the Philharmonic, the Großes Ballorchester under the direction of Helmut Steubl and the Tom Henkes Dance Band played a steady stream of Viennese waltzes, polkas and big band numbers ensuring that there was a little musical something for every dancer. At midnight and again at 2 am, the Master of Dance led a still-teeming dance floor in a Quadrille, a fun, Simon-says-type dance that originated in France in the 1700s and features four couples dancing in a square formation.

Unable to decipher the German directions being given by the Master of Dance, we chose to watch the Quadrilles from the loge while sipping Champagne and nibbling on a late-night snack of traditional Vienna sausages with mustard and horseradish.

Ambassador Wesner looked regal in a garnet-hued Valentino gown and low chignon and her husband, Blaine, was elegance personified in an impeccably tailored tailcoat. 

I chose a red silk, chiffon and tulle bias-cut gown by American couturier, Robert Danes, as a nod to the official color of Austria. 

Shortly before 3 am, we left the still-crowded Ball and headed to the beautiful and historic Hotel Sacher for some post-Ball revelry. At 5 am, we called it a night. And what a night it was…a fairy tale night, once upon a time.

Cat’s Meow Moments: Entering The Musikverein’s Golden Hall and being overwhelmed by the sheer grandeur and historic significance of the space, seeing the magnificent floral arrangements throughout the building, listening to the lively sounds of one of the world’s finest orchestras play in one of the world’s finest concert halls, watching the hundreds of debutantes and their partners waltz in perfect unison, taking to the dance floor with my husband and dancing the dizzying Viennese Waltz (albeit not always in perfect unison), seeing the tremendous joy and fellowship that goes with Quadrille dancing, and basking in the formality and elegance of Austrian culture and tradition.

Introductory photo: Judy Garland
Introductory quote: The Maltese Falcon, 1941

The Sally Award: Felicity Jones

Felicity JonesI don’t know about you, but we were head over stilettos about all the fashions on the red carpets this week. If you were following us on Twitter, you know that I was garnishing the “picks” at the Golden Globes with olives (“I loves”) – from one olive for the looks that were, well, the pits to five for those that were simply delicious.

While there were several gals at the Globes who received five olives, including Reese Witherspoon who has never looked better,  it was Felicity Jones who had the best party look of the week. A Best Actress award nominee for her performance in The Theory of Everything, Felicity was a fashion standout in a spectacular Dior ball gown in a fresh and sophisticated shade of teal blue.

We particularly loved the gown’s nod to Dior’s New Look, the revolutionary silhouette that the couturier introduced in 1947 that has had a long history with Hollywood’s most fashionable women. Defined by its nipped-in waist and voluminous skirts, the New Look was a go-to silhouette for glamorous stars including Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, who wore a voluminous Dior gown to the 1961 Academy Awards.

Jones, who is establishing herself as one of Hollywood’s chicest actresses, accessorized the gown perfectly with Brian Atwood shoes, vintage ear clips from Van Cleef & Arpels and a perfect, sleek chignon. We especially loved the pop of tangerine color – Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in Pliesse Soleil – on her lips. What a fresh and modern touch.

Our gal may have lost the Golden Globe to Julianne Moore who won for her performance in Still Alice but, in the fashion department, it is still Felicity. Well done, doll.

RSVP: Jill Kargman

Darlin’, grab a glass of champers and come meet our lovely friend, the New York Times bestselling chick-lit author, Jill Kargman. Now don’t be duped by Jill’s exotic good looks and sophisticated style (she’s a member of Vanity Fair‘s International Best-Dressed List and her father is Arie Kopelman, the former chairman of Chanel).  Jill may be a fashionista of the highest order, but this down-to-earth gal has a sense of humor as sharp, edgy and incisive as a hound’s tooth. Her books, which include The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund, Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut and Momzillas, are full of wry, irreverent and side-splitting observations about life among New York’s social elite. Jill’s latest project is Odd Mom Out, a new scripted comedy about Manhattan’s wealthy momzillas that she created for Bravo and in which she stars. The series debuts on June 8th at 10 pm EST, so now’s the time to start planning what Jill calls your “yummy mummy viewing parties.” How does this fashionable and funny lady entertain? Her tips might just have you in stitches.

Your entertaining style?
Festive and fun but casual

Your favorite way to entertain?
My table seats 10 so I always keep it at that! Sometimes we jam in two extra chairs but it’s super tight.

With you at your dream dinner table?
Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, Tim Burton, my three kids, my parents, and my husband

Jill with her father, Arie, mother, Coco, and husband, Harry, a technology entrepreneur

What party foods are always in your fridge and pantry?
Hummus, olives, about 10 cheeses, rice crackers and Carr’s Table Water Crackers plus baby carrots and cherry tomatoes for pop-by cocktails

Getting ready ritual?
Blaring Soundgarden

Best question to ask to get a party conversation rolling?
Who wants to play Cards Against Humanity afterwards?

Cards Against Humanity calls itself “a party game for horrible people”

Topics you won’t touch at a party?
Politics, religion, pets and school bullshit

Favorite cocktail?

Favorite Champagne?
Veuve Cliquot

Favorite party food? 

Favorite flower?

In the language of flowers, ranunculus say “I’m dazzled by your charms”

Favorite powder room candle? 
Baies by Diptyque

Favorite powder room soap?
Jo Malone Red Roses

Jo Malone’s Red Roses Wash is composed of seven types of roses from around the world

Favorite party dress designer?
Marc By Marc Jacobs or Anna Sui

Favorite party shoe designer?

Anna Weatherly hand painted china is based on 16th, 17th and 18th century botanical art

Favorite china brand?
Anna Weatherly

Favorite crystal brand?
William Yeoward

Jill and Harry’s prom-themed 40th birthday party

Best party you hosted?
It’s a tie between my 25th birthday party – it was a glam rock theme party called Studio Filthy Whore [presumably, Jill’s take on Studio 54] – and the 1980s prom party Harry and I hosted for our 40th birthdays. I never had a prom and it’s an American rite of passage and I felt like a commie bastard, so I had a John Hughes High black-tie prom. It ruled.

You know you’re at a Jill Kargman party when…
Nine Inch Nails is blaring, kids are running, grownups are drinking, and Cards Against Humanity has everyone cackling.

Party invitation you’ll never turn down?
To one of my friend Ashley McDermott‘s dinner parties. They’re always lovely and warm with mixed ages, delicious food, and so much soul.

Jill in Valentino at the Met Gala

Most fascinating person you met a party?
Henry Winkler was my dinner partner once and I almost died that I was seated next to the Fonz. He was lovely.

Most interesting thing you learned about someone at a party?
That people who seem cold and standoffish at school or on Madison Avenue can actually loosen up with some champers and be delightful

What do you do when you forget a name?
I shit and then say, do you know my husband, Harry? And wait for them to say their name. It happens all the time, horrifyingly.

Technique for bowing out of a boring conversation gracefully?
“I have to hit the shitter.”

Qualities of a great host?
Warmth, humor and infectious enthusiasm

Qualities of a great guest?

Three party pet-peeves?
Having a boring, straight, Wall Street guy next to me, cell-phone checkers (unacceptable!) and people who stay too late

Three party must-haves?
Good food, good drinks and good music

What will you wish for this year when you blow out your birthday candles?
A second season of Odd Mom Out

We think we’ll wish for that too, doll. Thanks for stopping by.

The Sally Award: Emily Blunt

What better way to kick off The Sally Awards for 2015 than with one of our perennial style favorites, the lovely Emily Blunt. In the spirit of our gal, let’s be, shall we say, blunt:  no one looked better than Emily on the party circuit this week.

The British actress looked positively divine at the Into the Woods screening in London on Wednesday in a stunning embellished dress from David Koma’s Spring 2015 collection. Our gal accessorized the bejeweled and perfectly tailored ivory frock with simple hair and make up, understated jewels and classic Stuart Weitzman Nudist sandals.

Her choice of an opalescent polish on her toes to reflect the shimmer of the beading shows that our gal considered everything when putting this winning look together. That’s what we call head to toe fashion perfection. Well done, doll.

Images: i-Images

Madame Sophie Swetchine

Pour yourself a glass of your best unfiltered vodka and gather close, darlin’. We’ve got a tale to tell of a Russian-doll-turned-Parisian-salonniere known for her religious conviction, her way with the plume and her intellectual salon.

We’re speaking of none other than Anne Sophie Swetchine who was born Sofia Petrovna Soymanova in Moscow in November 1782. Our gal came from quite a good family, was well-educated and spoke several European languages. No ruble was spared when it came to educating the smart and precocious Sofia. You see, her father was Secretary of State Peter Alexandrovich Soimonov and she spent her early years in the court of Empress Catherine the Great. Talk about a fabulous role model. Scandalous as she was, Catherine is known as one of the most astute rulers in Russian history.

Catherine the Great

But back to Sofia. At the age of 17, our gal was married to General Nicholas Sergeyevich Swetchine, a rather quiet man who was 25 years her senior and had been governor of St. Petersburg. I know what you’re thinking, but the two actually had a good marriage, although they were not able to have children, which caused our gal great despair.

Some believe this was why, at age 33, Sofia converted to Catholicism. She had long been influenced by the writings of Joseph de Maistre, the French philosopher and ambassador to Russia who wrote often on the subject of the Pope and Christianity. Russian law did not permit members of the Russian nobility who left the Russian Orthodox Church to continue living in Russia, so poor Sofia and her husband were forced to live in exile, choosing Paris, bien sûr, as their new home.

Joseph de Maistre

Once in Paris, and after changing the spelling of her name to Sophie, our gal put her excellent education, language skills and years at court to good use setting up a salon that became the talk of the town. Some of the most distinguished thinkers in literature, politics and ecclesiastical high society including the Archbishop of Paris came through her doors as did a number of other Russian exiles.

In 1857, at the age of 75, this grande dame of Paris salon life – and one of Paris society’s authorities on Catholic theology – died. A wonderful writer, Madame Swetchine left behind a collection of manuscripts and letters, including many with Tocqueville, the author of Democracy in America, and numerous expressions that continue to reflect her wisdom. Here are our favorites:

The ideal friendship is to feel as one while remaining two.

There are two ways of attaining an important end, force and perseverance; the silent power of the latter grows irresistible with time.

Our vanity is the constant enemy of our dignity.

One must be a somebody before they can have an enemy. One must be a force before he can be resisted by another force.

In this world of change, nothing which comes stays, and nothing which goes is lost.

With that, let’s raise our glasses to Madame Swetchine, shall we?

The 10 Best Party Looks of 2014

A white dress she had on. I only saw her for one second. But I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.

From Lupita’s red dress heard round the fashion world to the Charles-James-inspired gown that Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the Met Gala, 2014 was one of the most fête-chic fashion years that we can remember. Join us as we visit the Sally Award archives and take a chronological look back at the 10 best party looks of 2014. Which was your favorite? Grab your glass of bubbly and join us on our Facebook page to let us know. From all of us at The Salonniere, thank you for being part of our party. We appreciate you. Here’s to a new year filled with great joy, good health and plenty of revelry.

 Lupita Nyong’o in Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globe Awards

Taylor Swift in Gucci Premiere at the Grammy Awards

Emma Watson in Oscar de la Renta at the New York City premiere of Noah

Blake Lively in Gucci at the Cannes Film Festival

Emily Blunt in Prada at the premiere of Edge of Tomorrow 


Sarah Jessica Parker in Oscar de la Renta at the Met Gala


Kate Hudson in Michael Kors at the New York City screening of Wish I Was Here

Keira Knightley in Michael van der Ham at the Toronto Film Festival

Lily Collins in Elie Saab at the Rome Film Festival

Kate Middleton in Jenny Packham at the St. Andrew’s gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Introductory photo: Christian Dior’s “Offenbach” evening gown, 1950
Introductory quote: Citizen Kane, 1941

Start 2015 off with a flourish. Follow us on Instagram to earn a chance to win monthly flower deliveries for a year.

The Return of Punch

I never drink wi-i-ine.

Punch is the hottest new trend in entertaining and there’s good reason why. It’s delicious, makes serving your guests a breeze and adds a beautiful and festive touch to a party. Punch dates back to the early 1600s in India when British sailors, thousands of miles from a pub and desperate for a nip, mixed local ingredients to create the first punch.

According to David Wondrich, author of Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, the sailors brought the brew back to England where it became a popular part of English revelry until Queen Victoria put the kibosh on it saying she didn’t like the “lax moral standards” associated with getting grossly drunk on punch. To the Queen’s point, it is important that your brew not pack too much of a punch. It should be weaker than a cocktail since you want your guests going back for more. Conversations around the punch bowl are all part of the experience. While there are many delicious punch recipes from which to choose, this one created by Wondrich and Erick Castro, a bartender at Polite Provisions, Imbibe magazine’s 2014 Bar of the Year, is one of our favorites. Serve it in one of these 10 fete-chic punch bowls and your guests will leave your party pleased as – you guessed it – punch.

Champagne Holiday Punch
Makes about six drinks

Ice, preferably large cubes
4 ounces rich simple syrup
Angostura bitters
4 ounces cold Champagne
8 ounces cold club soda
12 ounces genever
Pineapple slices and star anise pods, for garnish
4 ounces Créole Shrubb
6 ounces fresh lemon juice

In a punch bowl, combine the genever, Créole Shrubb, lemon juice, rich simple syrup and 10 dashes of the bitters and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Stir in the Champagne and club soda, add ice and garnish with the pineapple and star anise.

baccarat mille nuits

Baccarat Mille Nuits Bowl

cristofle malmaison

Christofle Malmaison Punch Bowl

hermes mosaique

Hermes Mosaique au 24 Punch Bowl

waterford john

Waterford John Connolly Circleof Friends Punch Bowl


Dorothy Thorpe Vintage Punch Bowl Set

scully and scully silver

Silverplate Punch Bowl Set

mintonMinton English Punch Bowl c. 1810

cb2Glass Punch Bowl with Ladle

XXX_1stdibs_57_aGlass and Silverplate Punch Bowl Set c. 1960

heisey greekHeisey Greek Key Punch Bowl

Introductory photo: Barbara Stanwyck
Introductory quote: Dracula, 1931

For more fete-chic party products, follow our Bee’s Knees: Products We Love board on Pinterest:

 Follow The Salonniere ‘s board Bee’s Knees: Party Products We Love on Pinterest.

Giveaway: Flowers for a Year

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

To welcome the new year with a flourish, we’re giving one of our wonderful Instagram followers flowers for a year. That’s right, darlin’. One lucky Instagram follower will receive a delivery of beautiful, freshly-cut blooms from Calyx Flowers every month during 2015. It’s a prize valued at $500. To enter, simply follow us on Instagram at Easy breezy.No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Bonne chance, honeysuckle.

Introductory image: Joan Crawford
Introductory quote: Mae West

Promotion Description: The Flowers for a Year 2015 giveaway begins on 12/28/2014 at 10 AM Central Time (US & Canada) and ends on 01/04/2015 at 10:00 AM Central Time (US & Canada).  The Giveaway is open to those with a mailing address in the United States who are 21 years of age or older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. The winner will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received and will be conducted by 1/06/2015. The winner will be notified through Instagram and must accept the prize within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen at random.

Party Poll: New Year’s Eve

Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

Howdy, darlin’. Looking forward to a big night out on New Year’s Eve? If  so, you’re one of the few. According to our Holiday 2014 Party Poll, 62 percent of guys and dolls, 25-54, prefer to stay in on New Year’s Eve, although a randy five percent said they like to go out simply because it’s a fun excuse to smooch folks other than their significant other. By golly.

As for the others, perhaps they’re all just too pooped from all the holiday soirees they attended this season. Our Party Poll found that 60 percent of people planned to attend between three and nine holiday hullabaloos and four percent attended 10 or more.

Of the 1,076 people nationwide who answered the questions in our Holiday 2014 Party Poll, 518 were men and 558 were women. The survey has a margin of error of +/- five percent.

Whether you’ll be in or out this New Year’s Eve, we wish you a night of great joy and merriment.

Introductory photo: Dorothy Rowand
Introductory quote: All About Eve, 1950

How to Throw a Lovely Ugly Sweater Party


Must I always wear a low-cut dress to be important?

An ugly sweater party can be fun for the holidays because it gives people a fun and easy way to connect with one another. I also love them as a theme for office parties because they are a natural equalizer. But, despite its name, an ugly sweater party can actually be quite lovely. It just takes a few well-thought-through details and a nice balance between kitsch and chic. Gather round as we sweat all the details for you.


Create an invitation that sets the mood.

Dress your wait staff in ugly vests worn over white shirts and bow ties. 

Decorate your tree with knitted ball ornaments. These were purchased on eBay.

Incorporate mini sweaters into your floral arrangements. These are from Michael’s.

Serve plenty of festive red and green foods.


Use cocktail napkins that feature a sweater pattern. These, from Zazzle, coordinated beautifully with our signature cocktail, a pomegranate martini.

Incorporate knitted items on your buffet table.

Items that look knitted are fun to add as well. These bowls are from Michael’s.

Of course, don’t forget to serve not-so-ugly and very delicious sweater cookies.

Print up voting cards and give prizes to those “who wore it worst.” 

Take a Polaroid of each guest as they enter. During the party, have a helper print them out and insert them into a snow globe. It’s the perfect party favor – guests can put them on their desks and giggle about the night all year long.  

Don’t forget to include your puppy in the fun. Ours even received a couple of votes in the ugliest sweater contest.

Introductory photo: Deanna Durbin
Introductory quote: Jean Harlow

RSVP: Sirio Maccioni

Photo of Sirio Maccioni at Le Cirque in 1981 by Slim Aarons

Grab your Smoky Conquistador and join us, darlin’. We were just about to sit down for a chat with our friend, famed restaurateur, Sirio Maccioni. Surely you’ve heard of his iconic New York restaurant, Le Cirque. Their divine crème brûlée is world renowned. Still debonair and charming at the age of 83, Sirio is one of the most skilled and gracious party hosts of all time. Over the last 40 years, he has hosted at the restaurant everyone from Frank Sinatra (“difficult but generous”), Frank Zappa (“revolutionary”) and Sophia Loren (“not easy”) to presidents and popes. He also helped launch the careers of many illustrious chefs including David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Torres and Geoffrey Zakarian. Just in time for our holiday dinner parties, let’s get some thoughts on hosting from the (circus) master himself. Right this way, darling.

What is the key to being a skilled host?
Be normal and natural as a person and a host.

Jacqueline Onassis with Sirio at Le Cirque

What is your best tip for always making sure your guests feel welcome?
It is something you either have innately or you don’t.

What defines a great guest?
Somebody who knows more than you do without saying so.

Sirio with Pope John Paul II

You have hosted every VIP in the arts, politics, business and fashion. Who was your favorite guest?
Pope John Paul II. There are three people who I respect: my grandmother when she was alive, my wife and the Pope.

How do you deal with difficult guests?
Professionally and with as much courtesy as possible. Then we hope they don’t return.

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
Someone who doesn’t want to have dinner with me.

Sirio dressed and ready to host at Le Cirque

How has entertaining changed over the last four decades?
It is getting worse. Everything is different now. People’s objectives have changed a lot.

Who do you consider to be some of the best party hosts today?
It seems that people no longer know what it is to be a good host. Most have become well-known because they are vulgar.

How often do you entertain at home?
Not very often. About every other month.

What kind of entertaining do you like to do at home?
Mostly small dinner parties. I really enjoy having the family and grandchildren over when my wife [Egidiana, who runs Le Cirque’s sister restaurant, Osteria del Circo] cooks.

Sirio Maccioni

Sirio and former Le Cirque chef, Daniel Boulud

What has been your greatest joy during your career?
Being able to be successful and support my family.

What has been your greatest challenge?
Surviving in New York.

What has been your greatest triumph?
My wife and my family.

Le Cirque is located at 151 E 58th Street, New York, NY, 10022. For reservations, call 212.644.0202.

Join us for more fête-chic fun on our Facebook,Twitter and Instagram pages.

The Sally Award: Kate Middleton


What can we say, darlin’? We were gobsmacked this week by Kate Middleton who looked absobloodylootely divine in a midnight blue Jenny Packham gown at a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for her alma mater, St. Andrews University. This week’s Sally Award winner for the best party look of the week, The Duchess accessorized the silk gown by the British designer with a jaw-dropping – and grazing – pair of diamond and emerald earrings and a regal and elegant low chignon. Empressive, we say!

MTI2NTc1NzA4MjU5NTg3MzQ2We also love that our gal chose to ignore the celebrity notion that you should only wear a gown once. You’ll recall that Kate has worn this chic number twice before: first at the 100 Women in Hedge Funds dinner in October 2013 and then at the National Portrait Gallery Gala earlier this year. It makes her so much more relatable, don’t you think? Her mum-in-law, the late Princess Diana, who was known as the People’s Princess, would have approved. Brilliant, doll.

The Duchess of Cambridge attends The Portrait Gala 2014

The Duchess at the 100 Women in Hedge Funds dinner in October 2013

What do you think about Kate’s look? Join the conversation on our Facebook,Twitter and Instagram pages.

Holiday 2014 Party Poll

Loretat young

Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!

Just in time for your holiday soirées, we’ve conducted another of our popular Party Polls to reveal the answers to several age-old holiday questions. This time, we commissioned a leading independent research firm to query 1,076 men and women nationwide, ages 30-60, with incomes ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 or more, about their holiday entertaining proclivities. Grab your Glogg, sugar-plum, and listen in as we reveal the findings of our Holiday 2014 Party Poll:

  • No, most people (80 percent) do not like fruitcake.
  • No, most people (51 percent) do not like eggnog.
  • Yes, for most people (60 percent), the holidays are their favorite time of the year for hosting and attending parties: 63 percent will host a holiday party this year while 59 percent will attend between three and nine holiday gatherings.
  • Yes, most people (73 percent) re-gift during the holidays, that is they pass along to others gifts that were given to them. Bottles of wine, gift cards and candles are the most often re-gifted items. A surprising 38 percent of those surveyed said they know they have been on the receiving end of a re-gift because they found a card inside that was written to the gift giver – oopsies!
  • Yes, George Clooney is the man most women would like to kiss under the mistletoe, while most men would like to smooch Scarlett Johansson.


Speaking of snogging, there appears to be a surprising amount of it going on at office parties. Twenty percent of those queried – the vast majority of whom have college or advanced degrees – admit to kissing or having a sexual encounter of some kind with a boss or co-worker at an office party. Goodness gracious, darlin’, hold the Santa Punch, will you? Thirty-six percent admitted to flirting with their boss, coworker or a coworker’s significant other and, not surprisingly, 28 percent of those queried say they’ve gotten sloshed at an office party.

janet leight

As for New Year’s Eve, apparently, most people are a bit enervated by then. Most of those surveyed (62 percent) said they prefer to stay in on New Year’s Eve, although a randy five percent said they like to go out and whoop it up on New Year’s Eve simply because it’s a fun excuse to kiss people other than their significant other. Oh my.

Of the 1,076 people nationwide who answered the questions in our Holiday 2014 Party Poll, 518 were men and 558 were women. The survey has a margin of error of +/- five percent.

Introductory photo: Loretta Young
Introductory quote: It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946
Additional photos: Joseph Cotten and Ginger Rogers, Janet Leigh

What do you think about the results of the Holiday 2014 Party Poll? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Holiday Party Makeup Must-Haves

Marilyn Monroe

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness.

Sweet cheeks, a party-perfect ensemble without flawless skin and eyelashes worth batting is like a Manhattan without the Maraschino. It’s just not complete. To look and feel truly fête fabulous this holiday season, you have to put your best face forward. That’s why we’re opening the doors to our top-secret cosmetic cache. On your maquillage, get set, go. It’s time to meet the Dollface Dozen, the 12 party makeup basics that every soirée-loving gal should have at her fingertips this holiday season.

Dior Pore Minimizer

 Dior Pore Minimizer Skin Refining Matte Primer

This weightless skin primer visibly reduces pores and smooths and refines the skin’s texture, creating a flawless base for your party makeup.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

This award-winning formula has become the holy grail of foundations. Weightless and buildable so you can achieve whatever level of coverage you prefer, this breakthrough foundation gives the skin a polished, satiny finish that stays put for hours.

Cle de Peau

 Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer

A perennial makeup artist favorite, this award-winning spot concealer provides smooth, seamless and complete coverage without caking or settling into fine lines.

Touche Eclat

YSL Touche Éclat Radiant Touch

Another cult classic among makeup artists and models, this light-reflecting highlighting pen can be used to erase the shadows in the tear troughs and nasolabial folds. Place a slender, well-blended line down the center of the nose to make it look slimmer.

Beauty Blender

The Original Beauty Blender

Blend, blend, blend. This revolutionary sponge applicator is perfect for blending your foundation, concealer and highlighter seamlessly to create a party-perfect complexion.

Collyre Bleu

Collyre Bleu Eye Drops

A long-time secret weapon of models and celebrities, this blue-tinted eye drop from France removes the yellow in the whites of the eyes leaving peepers looking brighter, cleaner and more youthful.

Christian DiorDior Backstage Eye Prime

A creamy eyelid foundation that neutralizes eyelid redness and provides a smooth, velvety and long-lasting base for eye shadow.


Kevyn Aucoin Precision Liquid Liner

This felt tip waterproof eyeliner delivers the blackest of black color onto your eyes without skipping or smudging, and the ultra-fine tip provides the ability to create every kind of look from natural to dramatic.



Lancome’s Hypnose Drama (top) and Definicils Mascaras

When it comes to mascara, we prefer a cocktail: one coat of Lancome’s Hypnose Drama for volume and one coat of Lancome’s Definicils for lengthening and to coat the little lashes in the corners.


Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler

Sleek, slim and perfectly designed, this is the Ferrari of eyelash curlers. After applying your mascara, allow it to dry, clamp the curler on your lashes and apply a few short, gentle pumps from the base to the tip of the lashes to give them a dramatic curl.

Buxom lip gloss

Buxom Lip Polish in Dominique

This clear, high-shine lip gloss adds a festive sparkle when applied over lip color. Or use it on nude lips for a daytime look.

Secret Brightening Powder

Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder

This lighter-than-air setting powder is the perfect finishing touch for your makeup: a quick dusting across the forehead, on the nose and chin brightens, lightens and boosts luminosity.

Introductory photo: Marilyn Monroe 
Introductory quote: Audrey Hepburn

The Sally Award: Tilda Swinton

Mornin’, love. Grab your cuppa. We’re about to anoint another Brit as the winner of the Sally Award for best party look of the week. And what a red carpet week it was. While there were so many fabulously frocked gals at the UNICEF Snowflake Ball who were Sally Award contenders, we had to give this week’s Award to British actress Tilda Swinton for her chic look at last weekend’s Gotham Independent Film Awards. Dressed in a blush-hued crepe and silk gown by Colombian designer, Haider Ackermann, Tilda looked effortlessly elegant as she walked the red carpet, continuing her reign as one of the great style icons of our time.

Tilda Swinton

Certainly, this dress is gorgeous, but it’s Tilda in the dress that makes it fashion perfection. Let’s face it: this gown suits Tilda to a T. The color, the cut and the artful mix of masculine and feminine details celebrate perfectly our gal’s trademark style and androgynous look. And, of course, Tilda’s finger-combed pompadour and signature natural makeup were fresh, flawless and très français. No wonder she has been named the new face of NARS Cosmetics for the makeup brand’s Spring 2015 campaign. Here’s to you, Tilda, for reminding us this week about the number one rule of successful party dressing: know who you are.

What do you think about Tilda’s look? Join the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Best Dressed Alert: UNICEF Snowflake Ball

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Howdy, sugar. We are just beside ourselves with fashion glee today after seeing the red carpet images from last night’s 10th Annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball in New York. I mean really, doll. When is the last time you saw so many well-dressed guests at one party? Perhaps we should be giving an honorary Sally Award to the event itself for inspiring so many fabulous frocks. Slide in, darlin’, and let us show you what we mean. It may be true that no two snowflakes are alike, but these nine gals were similarly fabulous last night. Bravo to them, we say.

Not ready for the party to end, doll? Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to The Salonniere for exclusive “party favors” like our eight-page party planning checklist. 

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© 2014 The Salonniere, Ltd. All rights reserved. The Salonniere™, I Feel a Party Coming On™, The Sally Award™, Party Poll™ and Tipsy Tuesday™ are among the trademarks of The Salonniere, 3801 North Capital of Texas Highway, Suite E240-185, Austin, Texas, 78746.