We’ve all heard the saying “hostess with the mostest,” but do we actually know how to become the ultimate host? Whether it be a small intimate gathering of family and friends or a large evening soirée for the holidays, birthdays and more — there’s no need for hosting stress! Bringing friends and family together across the table can be effortless yet still elegant with the right tips and tricks. Kathryn Duryea, Founder & CEO of Year & Day, a direct-to-consumer home brand offering ceramics, flatware and glass, shares seven hosting tips to bring your dinner party to the next level without having to obsess over every detail.
1. Keep the basics for a chic table on-hand
I love impromptu hosting, so I always have three or four sets of placemats and napkins on hand. I’m continually refreshing my favorites, and love picking up new pieces when I’m traveling. Last month in Santa Barbara, I picked up some great placemats and napkins at Garde (7410 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles; +1 323 424 4667). I tend to favor neutrals, but also play with color and pattern to keep my table fresh and seasonal.
2. Tell your story with your tablescape
Your tablescape and/or other display surfaces in your home that your guests will see (coffee table, powder room, kitchen island) are great places to showcase objects that reflect your interests, experiences and travels. Right now some of my favorite things on display are: ashtrays collected from hotels on the Amalfi Coast last summer (I don’t smoke, but I love the way they look!), a Year & Day bud vase hand-painted by Spanish Artist Carla Cascales in honor of our Soho pop-up last fall, and a retrospective of architect Vincent Van Duysen’s work (we just bought a house and are getting inspired for our renovation).
4. Keep a House Playlist
My husband and I keep a house playlist that we’re continually adding to and retiring songs from. Some of our recent additions are songs from the Big Little Lies soundtrack, which is currently my go-to playlist for hosting.
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5. Take the Pressure Off
You want your guests to have a great time, and they will feed off of your energy. I tend to stress when I’m cooking for more than four people, so if I’m hosting a larger group I typically hire a chef from Thumbtack or keep it simple and order from UberEats or Caviar, so I can focus on setting a relaxed tone. I lean towards cuisines that lend themselves to family-style serving like a roast chicken with salad and vegetables, Thai or pizza. Right now I’m loving Vietnamese from Charlen Phan’s Out The Door (2232 Bush Street, San Francisco; +1 415 923 9575), the Cellophane Noodles with Crab and Fried Chicken are crowd-pleasers.
6. Candles set the mood
When the sun sets, an easy way to set an elegant tone is to dim the lights and incorporate candles. For the table I love tapers and Skultuna candlesticks we received as a wedding present. For the powder room and entryway, my favorite scented candles are Tree House by Byredo and Mint Tea by Perfumer H. I also keep an array of votives on hand to fill the coffee and dining tables with tealights.
7. Flowers don’t need to be fussy
While I love having a formal arrangement, more often than not I pick up seasonal flowers while at the farmers market (or from my favorite farmers-market inspired delivery service, Good Eggs) and make simple single-variety arrangements. This year I developed a serious affection for Icelandic Poppies, which bring personality, color and elegance to the table, especially in a minimal vase.
BONUS* Simplify the thank you
I love to thank my guests for coming with a simple group text, which creates a thread to continue conversation from the event and swap contact information. Depending on the occasion, I sometimes set the table with a bud vase at each setting with a single-stem or small arrangement for guests to take home — who doesn’t love a party favor?
Kathryn Duryea is Founder & CEO of Year & Day, a direct-to-consumer home brand launched in October 2017. Backed by Founders Fund, Year & Day has been praised by The New York Times, Fast Company, GQ, Architectural Digest and Vogue for offering modern, high-quality tableware at affordable prices and for its lifestyle-oriented shopping experience. Kathryn started Year & Day after a decade working in e-commerce and brand marketing, including at Tiffany & Co.
Before starting Year & Day, Kathryn spent a year delving into the tabletop industry. She took a glaze-making class and researched craftsmanship legacies to understand the hallmarks of luxury in Ceramics, Flatware, and Glass. To develop Year & Day's assortment, Kathryn met with vendors around the world, looking for partners who not only employed responsible manufacturing practices, but who also understood her vision for products that were top quality in material and craft, beautiful enough for special occasions, and durable enough for everyday. As a result, Year & Day is able to offer its customers an intentionally limited assortment of the best products at the best value.
A San Francisco native, Kathryn began her career in the White House and holds an MBA from Stanford and a Bachelor's from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service.
ABOUT YEAR & DAY
Launched in 2017, Year & Day is disrupting the dishware industry with a thoughtful and elegant assortment of ceramics, flatware & glassware. Modern and minimal in its beauty to enhance your life at home, Year & Day dishware is available a la carte or built as a complete set for your lifestyle that suits your own years & days. Designed in California and hand-finished in Europe, Year & Day creates a table where you can nourish yourself, your friendships and your family.