Entertaining Tips from Expert Danielle Rollins

Tips for entertaining and table settings

Entertaining Tips from Danielle Rollins

Entertaining is a fantastic way to spend quality time with friends and family, and we’ve always believed that there’s no better way to show someone you care about them then to invite them over for a comforting meal, which is why we teamed up with Danielle Rollinsentertaining expert and author of Soirée Entertaining with Style. Danielle shared with us a few of her favorite tips for hosting a get-together, which she details below.

Entertaining is inevitably less intimidating if you have a plan, some tried-and-true tips, and you practice! The more you invite guests over, the less daunting it becomes and the more enjoyable you can make it for yourself and your family. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite tips, straight from my entertaining arsenal:

Hosting a Spring Brunch with Danielle Rollins

1. Work Ahead

Do as much as you can ahead of time, whether that means setting out everything you plan on using or prepping ingredients so the last minute set up and cooking is less stressful.

Table cloths mean you don't need a formal dining table

2. The Power of a Table Cloth

A tablecloth can be an empowering entertaining element. It reminds you that you don’t need a huge dining table or even an outdoor dining set to host friends or family. A card table or folding table can be elegant if you use a pretty tablecloth! I love to layer my table so it’s not unusual for me to use unconventional items like a shower curtain, stadium blankets, or bed linens.

Use a place card when throwing a dinner party

3. Use a Place Card

I prefer to use place cards whenever I’m hosting guests not because it adds an air of formality, but because it is a thoughtful gesture of making my guest feel truly welcome and thoroughly wanted.

Be sure to write your own place cards in your best handwriting. It reminds your guests that you were thoughtful in how everything came together and it makes it personal.  I like adding personal touches to place cards and menu cards like the herbs tied with raffia.

Coordinate your menu with your table setting

4. Coordinate Your Menu

Plan your menu to complement your table setting, and I don’t just mean writing it on pink paper! For this outdoor brunch, I brought pink into my dinner salad by using grapefruit sections.

Woven chargers make entertaining outdoors a breeze

5. Rely on Woven Chargers

Woven chargers are great for entertaining outdoors for two reasons. They feel casual and relaxed, but stacking the plates and folded napkins on the wicker chargers meant carrying the items outdoors was a cinch.

Using items for things they weren't intended is unexpected and playful

6. Think Outside the Box

To bring an element of surprise to your entertaining space, use items for things they weren’t intended for. For example, Danielle used a garden urn as an ice bucket, and she used an ice bucket as a container for an arrangement of peach and plum blossom branches.

Mix metals, we used our heirloom serving pieces with stainless flatware

7. Mix Metals

Mixing metal finishes adds to the relaxed feel of the table. Danielle blended our heirloom silver pieces, like salt and pepper shakes and serveware, with sparkling stainless flatware.

A self serve bar is great for entertaining

8. Let Guests Serve Themselves

With a self serve bar, be sure to have any ingredients guests may need, including garnishes, ice, corkscrews, and straws.

Browse more entertaining ideas on our Entertaining Pinterest Board, or in Danielle’s book Soirée Entertaining with Style.

Danielle received Ballard Designs merchandise through this partnership, but her opinions are her own. 

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Judith A Fletcher

    July 27, 2016

    Love these ideas as we are planning a “beach” theme luncheon for our Ladies Day Out at church!