Occasions by Kate Spade by Kate Spade - Read Online

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Occasions - Kate Spade

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Always Gracious, Sometimes Irreverent

Kate Spade




Lucky you! You’ve just inherited your favorite aunt’s set of colorful barware. One problem: which glass is for what drink?

Improvisation and common sense will help you navigate most of the choices. The beauty of an old set of anything is that it allows you to mix it in with your own modern glasses.

It’s your first real cocktail party. What should you have for a well-stocked bar?

A little of this and a little of that are a good beginning: gin, vodka, scotch, whiskey, rum, and tequila are usual requirements as are such additions as Rose’s lime juice, tomato juice, tonic, club soda, lemons, and limes.

Giving flowers to a hostess is always a lovely gesture. Should you send something ahead of time or bring a bouquet with you?

It might seem old-fashioned or overly formal to you, but sending flowers before a party is the sign of a truly thoughtful guest. It frees up the hostess from last-minute scurrying around just as her guests (and this includes you) are arriving.

You have food allergies, but you dread calling attention to yourself. What do you do when at a sit-down dinner you’re served pecan-crusted salmon and you’re allergic to nuts?

There are degrees of likely scenarios. If you can scrape off the nuts and still eat the salmon without any worries, do so as gracefully as possible. Otherwise, don’t stand on ceremony: let your hostess know, who will no doubt come up with a solution … and one that won’t make you sneeze, wheeze, or break out in hives.

You’re not a big drinker but your friends are, so at the next cocktail party what’s a light drink to request so you won’t stand out?

In the summer, try a Virgin Sea Breeze. An all- season favorite is a Virgin Bloody Mary, the spicier the better. And whether you’re stateside or in Italy, Campari and soda is a classic choice.

Every time you have dinner at your best friend’s, her white tablecloth has a snap and finish to it that makes yours look a bit sad by comparison. How does she keep her whites white, her linens crisp?

Make sure you only wash whites with whites—no other colors allowed. This gives you a chance to wash with hot water and safe bleaches. Air-drying outdoors is ideal for naturally brightening whites, but for most of us, the gentle cycle in a dryer will have to do. A good iron, some steam, and a little starch will put some life into your linens.

The hands on the clock are hitting Hour #6 at a cocktail party, the tarts have long since disappeared, and the candles are stubs. Out of the corner of your eye, you realize that a lampshade has just become someone’s party hat. Does this mean the party’s over?

Sometimes even the plainest cues don’t work on those guests who have crossed the line from partygoers to party stayers. If people are still enjoying themselves, then do your tired best to keep smiling. But once the décor becomes someone else’s wardrobe, by all means call it quits.

How do you balance a drink and an hors d’oeuvre at a cocktail party without spilling one or dropping the other?

Putting aside those with innate balance, for most of us the act of juggling is an elusive art. It helps to have a small hors d’oeuvre and, better still, to be quick about it. Don’t linger and nibble. Eat up! The best hors d’oeuvres are one-bite morsels.

You’re determined to give a hostess gift that’s not the same old thing. But what’s special?

How to give something original is the eternal gift-giver’s challenge. Don’t feel as though you have to invent the wheel each time you select a gift for someone, but do think of that person and his or her interests. Sometimes going to a boutique or even looking in a flea market is a way to find something fresh and unusual.

You’re planning a formal dinner for eight, but what music will keep the mood light and fun?

Have on some upbeat music when your guests are arriving and then keep the beat during the meal as well. Lively music stimulates conversation and creates a momentum that lasts the whole evening long.

When planning a party, at what point is mix ’n match more mix than match?

What’s the secret to just the right balance?

Planning ahead with a guest list gives you the time and focus to select among your friends and acquaintances for any event. It’s also a good idea to plan on a few backups in case of last-minute cancellations. Spontaneous get-togethers are always fun, but when it comes to a proper dinner party, sharpen your pencil and start your list.

When is fashionably late just late?

Cocktail parties are forgiving when it comes to time, though if you arrive after most of the hors d’oeuvres have disappeared (and half the guests), then that’s a reliable sign you’re tardy. Dinner parties are more time sensitive—if you’re 30 minutes past the appointed hour, expect that your hostess will greet you with an arctic smile.


Have You Ever Wondered …?



The Mise-en-Scène

Decorating the Room

Shopping for Antiques




The Well-Stocked Cupboard

Party Shopping Lists



When the Out-of-Doors Beckons


Dressing the Part

The Good Hostess

The Good Guest

Surprises and Disasters


Tried ’n True Party Standards

Cocktail Parties

Pre-Party Preparations

Mixed Drinks

Shake, Stir, Pour, and Serve

The Perfect Martini

Champagne and Cognac

Wine is Divine

Beer is a Beverage Too

Hors d’Oeuvres

Á la Carte, Á Table, and Catering

Dinner Parties

Dinner Party Checklist

Special Dinner Parties

The Art of the Toast

Dinner Party Trivia

Weekend Parties

For the Ideal Guest Room

Weekend Activities in the Country


An Alphabet of Special Events

Anniversary Gifts

The After-Party Party



Brunches (and Lunches)

Farewell Dinners


New Home





Theme Parties

The Un-Occasion


Thank You

Select Bibliography


To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he is beneath your roof.


I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest at the homes of so many good hostesses, and I’ve often wondered what their secret is. Does it mean having a spectacular home for entertaining, being a great cook, knowing the best florists, and surrounding yourself with interesting friends? Or does it mean putting a smile on your face no matter what happens? Actually, I do think the smile is essential and so is humor. Lots of it, as far as