Friday, May 20, 2011

Planning a Party the Sally Quinn Way!

In the early part of June there's a fairly large cocktail party coming up. It's a fundraiser for the arts with a hundred and sixty invitations sent out. Considering two people per invitation, that's a potential of over three hundred high-society hobnobs, and even with the normal twenty-percent drop out, that's still a fairly large group.

As the butler in a billionaire's home this is all great fun for me with all the caterers, florists, valet parkers, and security personnel showing up - and I can already feel the pace picking up around here. (It gets really boring without some kind of special event going on.)

But honestly, I couldn't get through a moment of this if it weren't for the advice of Sally Quinn - the famous Washington DC hostess and columnist for the Washington Post. Together with her husband Ben Bradlee (the Executive Editor of the Post), these two could throw a party that's talked about for years to come.

In her book The Party Ms Quinn helps us laugh our way through even the most intense party preparations and unexpected disasters. And her delight in name dropping (from White House residents to opera legend Pavarotti) is amazingly fun to read. She even sites names of other Washington hostesses who's parties were complete flops, and why.

Anyhow, her philosophy is simply that a party is all about having fun.

At one of her events the caterer got the date wrong and she was suddenly without food for her guests! Not ruffled or deterred, she sent out her house staff to buy buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes from Colonel Sanders - which she served on her finest china and silver platters. Her guests, she said, just rolled up their sleeves and had a great time. Lesson learned according to Ms Quinn"The food doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be good!"

She also didn't consider her party a success unless at least one or two high-society matrons or political dignitaries fell over dead drunk in the floor! So I'm happy to report that in this house we're on the same page and living up to Ms Quinn's high standards. Rarely does an event here go by without someone needing to be carried out and driven home by our chauffeur!

Parties in this house are all about champagne, music, candles, food, flowers and fun - as all parties should be. If you're planning an important event anytime soon, do read Sally Quinn's book. You won't be disappointed!

Hope this was somewhat informative, and thanks for stopping by.



  1. I would love to be a fly on the wall the night of your party!!!!

  2. Hi, Luv2be. I'll be the "fly" and will report anything noteworthy. Ha! Nothing's ever boring around here!

  3. Hello Andrew. Upon your word, I bought Sally's book and, as you predicted, I was not disappointed. It is now a welcomed addition to my domestic service reference "arsenal!" Thanks for the tip!

  4. How nice to hear from a fellow House Staff employee! And so glad you enjoyed the book. Ms. Quinn has her enemies and detractors (ha!) but I couldn't do without her. Would be curious to know about your position.

  5. Parties would lack much fun without good food and some liquor to heat up any conversations.

    NYC Catering

  6. You're right about that. Good liquor is always on hand in this house. Ha! But for good food we rely completely upon our favorite caterers. Not a chance in Hell I would undertake something like this myself!

    Your web page "NYC Caterers" is very nice.

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. What a fun article, Mr. Williams.

    I'm a big fan of Sally Quinn and wouldn't atempt a party without practicing her advice of flexibility.

    So glad I stumbled across your page.

  8. That's a very nice compliment, Elizabeth Ann.

    Things are bound to go wrong (or at least not turn out exactly as planned)! Ha! So flexibility is definitely the key to survival!

    Thanks for reading!

    All the best,