Entertaining

Interior Designer Charlotte Moss Shares Her Secrets to Summer Entertaining

Keep your caftan on call.
IMAGE BRITTANY AMBRIDGE
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From the Cape to the West Coast, the summer season ushers in sunny weather, long days, and house guests…lots and lots of house guests. While gathering our nearest and dearest is fun and memorable, it can come with its fair share of anxiety: Will your old college roommate need a detailed itinerary to fulfill her A-type desires? What menus ensure that your vegan sister and your paleo friend won’t exchange passive aggressive pleasantries? And where did you pack away those spare sheets?


"Centerpieces for the table do not always have to be flowers. Study your cupboards and closets for items to use."

Interior designer and consummate hostess Charlotte Moss swoops in with her high-level, yet low-key book Charlotte Moss Entertains: Celebrations and Everyday Occasions. In it, she dishes the kind of advice you might expect if you knew the Southern-born tastemaker well enough to just pick up the phone and ask.

Moss tells it like it is, “Let’s face it, entertaining is work, but it is not supposed to be a chore. The care and feeding of friends and family is one of life’s great pleasures. She is patient, “Once you’ve done it enough times, and with confidence, you will then graduate to what all great hosts and hostesses are able to do—spontaneous entertaining.” She is a little self-effacing, “You’re read it all before, I’m sure…” And (blessedly) she is realistic, “Do what you are good at, and, if you can, hire other people to do the rest.”


"The more you experiment with what you have in setting the table, the more confidence you will gain and the more fun you will have."

Moss’s skills soar when it comes to summer parties—she hosts her own “Caftan Caucus” in the East Hampton each year, a ladies’ weekend with close friends. Naturally, Charlotte Moss Entertains includes her tips for dining al fresco, warm-weather décor, and swoon-worthy summer nights. But since most of us do not have Charlotte Moss on call, T&C flagged her down to ask our top summer entertaining questions, rosé at the ready.

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What are your secrets to hosting weekend guests?

There is no one way. Just do it your own way!

I never make a schedule for my guests, because we all have enough of that Monday through Friday. Breakfast is set up for everyone to have at their leisure. Bedrooms have their own fridge, coffee pots, fruit, snacks, and anything someone might want in particular like Greek yogurt, granola, or muffins. Lunch is generally at 1 p.m., dinner is at 8 p.m., and everyone can do as they wish…swim, sleep, read, ride a bike... I go through my library and switch out the books in each room based on my friends’ interests, and add current magazines. Or we will all discuss an excursion or a beach walk.

What are some summer food or menus that you are looking forward to bringing out this year?

I am always experimenting with salads and cold soups for lunches. For dinner parties this summer, I am going to let my travels of the last 12 months inspire me... think India!


"There is absolutely no agenda for this caucus; however, there might be one goal, to leave more relaxed than you arrived. What every hostess prays for."

Not to discredit fabulous hosts from other cultures, many of whom you highlight in your book, but why do you think Southerners are so darn good at hosting?

Girls just wanna have fun, simply put. We were raised with mothers who invited friends for dinner on a day’s notice—somehow they were always able to accommodate a few friends who hung around at dinner time. There was no panic, just a few extra place settings. Southerners are people-gatherers and so much of these gatherings is centered around food, particularly Southern food.

Any other tricks of the trade?

Start practicing, entertaining, at any level. Get a rhythm, develop your own modus operandi. Before long you will wonder what all the agony and hesitation was about.

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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