Hostess, author and fashion insider Marian McEvoy explains the rules of the social game.
After three decades of hosting grown-up sleepovers for close to 1,000 guests, I’ve learned that the only way to rig a fun, memorable weekend is to prop and prep the guest room and map out some simple meals and activities.
When guests arrive, whisk them (and their bags) directly to their room to get them situated. Ideally, you should spend one night a season there yourself, to make sure it is comfortable. Is the mattress firm? Is there a place where you can apply makeup, write a note or park a laptop? Most importantly, does the room look happy?
I recently spent a weekend at a Southampton estate, where a budding socialite festooned my room with dozens of cushions, massive floral arrangements, a fully stocked minibar and entertainment center, several condom options and an arsenal of PMS remedies. Talk about too much information!
On the other hand, I spent a night at a famous decorator’s Caribbean beach compound, where I would have traded a lifetime supply of champagne and caviar for one fresh bar of soap and an extra roll of toilet paper. Instead, my host had crammed my medicine cabinet with 67 teeny motel-size plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner that appeared to be seven years past their prime. Gross!
I learned a great tip from my fashion friend Valentino when I stayed at his Rome villa. On Saturday night, after a delicious dinner, our host bid us good night and added, “See you all at noon tomorrow.” Bliss! We had the morning free for sightseeing, swimming or sleeping, while Valentino had a couple of hours of peace.
Establish mealtimes and menus, and plan one group field trip to a local beach, museum or historic site. But make sure it’s clear that the outing is optional; those who have had their fill of group dynamics should feel free to stay home and read or nap.
When my visitors arrive, after showing them to their room, I tell them, “We’ll be having lunch on the porch and dinner at eight, but breakfast tomorrow is self-serve. There will be coffee, bread, orange juice and a toaster set up in the kitchen. Help yourself. And I’ll see you at noon!”
FYI: This whole guest room was decorated by Marian McEvoy with a glue gun! Many people associate the world of crafts with corny, kitschy decor, but those people haven’t met domino’s hostessing columnist, Marian McEvoy.
McEvoy, the well-known style guru and former editor in chief of Elle Decor, fell into crafting 15 years ago, when she picked up her first glue gun and began embellishing every available surface in her home. The results were bright, graphic and sophisticated.
As McEvoy shows in her book, Glue Gun Decor, you can transform just about any piece with a steady hand and a $10 tool. Who says that great style comes at a price? McEvoy’s philosophy is so wise—and so domino—that we signed her up.