Fall Entertaining Do’s and Don’ts

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being the first guest to arrive at a party and catching the host off guard before he or she has even had the chance to put the finishing touches on the tablescape, or worse, freshen up. To avoid awkward situations like these, and many more, pay close attention to our list of holiday DOs and DONTs from a myriad of today’s top designers and planners via House Beautiful. We We also picked up some tips from Suite101.com . So whether you’re a guest or a host, follow these tips and you’re in for a fabulous time this holiday season.


  1. “Have a stiff drink before anyone arrives. If you are having fun, everyone will have fun.”—Miles Redd, designer
  2. “Crispy ironed linens! There is nothing so luxurious as to sit at a table with a lovely ironed tablecloth and spread an ironed napkin over your lap.” —Barbara Barry, Designer
  3. “Send out a proper invite. A handwritten one is preferable, but the online versions at PaperlessPost are quite wonderful.” —Ken Fulk, designer
  4. “The perfect number for a dinner party is six to eight. You want festive conversation, but not so many people that the conversations are always split up.” —Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, The Kitchn by Apartment Therapy
  5. “Keep hors d’oeuvres to one bite. No one wants to talk or kiss with a mouthful.” —Larry Laslo, designer
  6. Plan for the right amounts of appetizers. About 10 appetizers per person is a reasonable number. For a dinner party 3-5 appetizers will suffice.
  7. Do hire servers and bartenders if you are having a larger party so you can spend time with your guests.
  8. DO make sure that your guests know exactly who is invited. You don’t want them bringing their kids if children are not welcome because its for adults only.
  9. Please don’t plan a party around an expected due date for your house that is being built or major renovation. These things often run over schedule.
  10. Change your house to make it party friendly and not like a designer showcase home so that your guests will be more comfortable.


  1. “Don’t be afraid to use your finest china, silverware, and crystal pieces outdoors. It can make a casual event a bit more special.” —Ty Burks, designer
  2. “Don’t impose a dress code on people. What is dressy attire anymore? Forget it — leave them to their own devices and just see what turns up.” —Larry Laslo, designer
  3. “Don’t cancel a dinner invitation the day of the dinner unless you are on an IV drip in a hospital.” —Harry Slatkin, fragrance guru
  4. “Don’t rearrange the chairs all against the wall just because you are having a large party. People like to see a beautiful interior.” —Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Designer.
  5. “Don’t be afraid to set up a dinner table in an unconventional or 
not-the-usual spot for a more interesting dinner or lunch — in the library 
among the books, out on a porch.” —Gil Schafer, architect/designer
  6. Don’t let your animals get in the way. Please make sure that all animals are put in a room where noone will open the door for and if your kids are not invited, make sure they are with a sitter or have plans.
  7. Don’t get upset if someone doesn’t like every dish. Some people will be vegans, or vegetarians and you can’t cater to them exclusively.
  8. Don’t hover around your guests as a waiter. Let your staff do this job for you.
  9. Don’t use a new recipe on your guests without trying it out first.
  10. Don’t use appetizers that are messy, black or brown. Use colorful fruits, veggies, cheeses, etc so that there is visual appeal.
  11. Don’t over serve someone alcohol. Make sure you take their keys or arrange for their way to get home if they are too drunk. There is liability these days and you have to be protective of them and yourself.

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