America's Best Party Hosts... Gosh!

America’s Best Party Hosts… Gosh!

I’m just not one of those people who wins things. Except for that time I played Bingo with my sister at a spa like ten years ago. My prize was shower gel and moisturizer and I had them bronzed for posterity. Now I might bronze my party shoes. What a […]

I’m just not one of those people who wins things. Except for that time I played Bingo with my sister at a spa like ten years ago. My prize was shower gel and moisturizer and I had them bronzed for posterity.

Now I might bronze my party shoes. What a huge honor–and surprise!–to be named to the 2019 Salonnière 100 list of America’s best party hosts. I couldn’t believe it when sweet friend Bettie Bearden Pardee of Private Newport acclaim told me. I went straight to my Salonnière email and Lord have mercy there I am, listed under Santa Barbara (close enough), along with Oprah. Oprah and me. Srsly. Our parties are so much alike. People sometimes come to our house and ask me where is Gayle or how is Stedman, and I just say fine because I don’t want to disappoint them.

A recent soiree and my concoction of vaguely Middle-East-Passage-to-India theme,

It is a diverse list, to say the least. But what I like most about Salonnière, besides everything, is the enthusiasm and sincerity of founder Carla McDonald. Founded in 2013 “to encourage socializing and highlight those who are continuing the tradition of the great salonnieres in history,” Salonnière celebrates the “trailblazers whose parties shaped the world in a way that is still felt today.” Though in my case last weekend, our party shaped the world in a way that is still felt the next morning.

Just so you know not every one of my tables looks like a Mardi Gras float, here’s a last-minute dinner for a visiting South African friend a few weeks ago in New York, using grocery store flowers and postcards and bits from the Guggenheim Museum gift shop.

Salonnière also shines a light on the hosts of today with beautiful photographs, breezy writing, and great practical advice. “Today’s party hosts play a vital role in their communities and beyond.” writes Carla, “They bring people together, facilitate introductions, advance ideas, advocate for change, raise funds for important causes, and create joyful moments that enhance lives.” 

And she’s right by dern. That IS why we do it. It’s also creative and fun and brings people together in a kind of modern ritual and ceremony that allows us to shift, however fleetingly, the way we experience our everyday lives. And when that happens, connections are made, glimpses are seen, horizons expand. 

So much more to say on that, which is partly why I’ve just written a(nother) book about entertaining, titled California Cooking and Southern Style, with recipes by Rancho La Zaca’s own Stephanie Valentine. Yay! Just thought I’d slip that in, though many of you know already… More on that later, too, but it is scheduled for release in November and is available for pre-order from your neighborhood bookstore here,  or on Amazon here.

Thank you again Salonnière, and thank you dear friends and followers who thought me worthy. I am humbled and grateful, and it is way better than shower gel and moisturizer. Just sayin’.

Keeping it simple, loving lavender, and celebrating a birthday, fortunately not mine. The plants will be transplanted later in the meadow. Nice when the decor can be recycled.

Meanwhile, do follow The Salonnière on Instagram, and following is a small selection of favorite recent Salonnière blog posts. Enjoy!

The Salonnière Party Planning Checklist Brilliant.

Georgiana Spencer Cavendish Duchess of Devonshire Cannot get enough. I have been fascinated with all the Ds of D.

The Duchess of Maine  This 17th century it-girl, aka the “queen of bees,” created her own Order of the Honey Bee, whose members wore beehive shaped wings. I knew I liked her.

Gerald and Sara Murphy’s “Les Noces” Have you read Amanda Vaill’s Everybody Was So Young ? Do. 

Social Graces and Party Etiquette We need more of this in the world.

Tips for Taking Great Tabletop Photos Great tips for all photos!

 

 

18 Comments

  1. Speirs Joan

    but of course! Those judges know what they are doing!

  2. Maureen Mulvany

    Frances, you are so gifted and I’m amazed that it has taken this long to recognize you. I’ve been following you since the first time I saw you on TV,. I can’t remember now the host, a young designer. Anyway, Congratulations ! You deserve lot of a accolades .

  3. Kitty Balay

    Well, of course! You are truly the hostess with mostest. Srsly. Being a guest at one of your parties is a delight! By the way, you introduced me to Aperol spritzers & they are now my specialty. Cheers to you & congratulations!

  4. Christine Cunningham

    Congratulations Frances- can’t wait to turn the pages of California Cooking/Southern Style, perfect description of your day to day ❤️

  5. Marilyn Holland

    Before I even finished reading your blog, I thought “Gosh, she should write another book” — and so you have. I have already contacted Amazon and preordered it — it will be my gift to friends at Christmas. Congratulations!!!

    • Dearest M, thank you. High praise coming from you, and we’ll have a special signed copy with your name on it ready and waiting. Your sister Frannie knew a thing or two about giving parties, too, did’t she? 😉 Love, Frances

  6. Betsy Duggan

    Dear Frances, <3 I’m so glad I am not alone in confusing you and Oprah ! 😉
    xoxo
    Betsy

    • Dearest Betsy, Indeed you are not. We also both like to wear hats, and that has caused some mistaken identity as well. I am doing my best to live with it, and hope you can too. ;D xox Froprah

  7. LONG TIME NO SEE BLOG IN MY INBOX!!!
    What a TREAT To READ about YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS!!
    I did see on INSTAGRAM TIMOTHY CORRIGAN and MICHELLE N. both got the award as well.YOU ARE ALL PARTY GIVERS EXTORDINAIRE’S!
    I do NOT know this magazine so will SEARCH TO FIND it !!Perhaps your LINK will ASSIST ME!
    I LOVE TO SET A BEAUTIFUL TABLE AS WELL………..and in the summer always GIVE A GARDEN PARTY.
    Not many people do THAT in MY CIRCLES!!!
    It has become a LOST ART!
    I would much prefer to dine in than go out as the food is ALWAYS better when YOU have an ITALIAN in the HOUSE!!!
    Plus, a VEGGIE GARDEN!
    HAPPY SPRING BEAUTIFUL LADY.
    Hope you are well!
    XX

    • Dearest C! Always happy to hear from you and thank you! Send pictures of your garden party when the time comes, and Happy Spring to you too! Love, Frances

    • Dearest Contessa, belated thanks to you for this sweet note tha I somehow let slip. Shame on moi! Hope you are having a great summer and I send you love and gratitude, Frances

  8. Dear Frances:
    Congratulation! Can’t wait to read your book.
    Jennifer

  9. Nina Richter

    Well tell us something we haven’t known for years! Your fabulous themes, scrumptious dinners & gift of gathering together interesting, fun friends is unparalleled.

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