I have my answer! I have my answer! I’m walking on air!
Stir up one of these timeless, classic cocktails, and join us as we serve up the 10 best entertaining books of all time. As helpful and relevant today as they were on the day they were published, these 10 classic party tomes are a must-have for every modern-day salonniere’s reference library.
How to Do It or The Lively Art of Entertaining by Elsa Mawell (1956)
Originally published in 1956, this book by Elsa Maxwell, one of the most fun and imaginative party hosts of all time, offers still-relevant tips on everything from how to deal with boring party guests and “inebriates” to creative ways to infuse your party with creativity. Maxwell is, after all, the inventor of the scavenger hunt as a party game. The book also includes wonderful recipes, including “Andalusian Gazpacho à la Joan Fontaine” and “Cole Porter’s Cherry Compote.”
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.
Entertaining with Elegance by Geneviève Antoine Dariaux (1965)
In this wonderful, still-relevant reference book, Geneviève Antoine Dariaux, the elegant former directrice of Nina Ricci, offers an alphabetical guide to every phase of entertaining, from banquets, barbecues, and buffets to handling VIPs, latecomers, and weekend guests.
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.
Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Entertaining by Lily Pulitzer and Jay Mulvaney (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.
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.
And here are a few more stories that we think you’ll enjoy:
A profile of Elsa Maxwell, one of the most imaginative salonnieres of all time
An interview with “entertainologist” Lulu Powers
The Best Entertaining Books of all Times
Welcome Photo and Quote Mashup
Welcome photo: Elizabeth Taylor
Welcome quote: Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986