Take a page out of Stolman’s book and heed his basic party advice. For more tips from his book, see palm beachillustrated.com/stolman.
Stolman often turns to his collection of vintage cookbooks for inspiration. Guests, such as Stephen Mooney and Jackie Breckenridge (top), appreciate his cooking.
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Tonight, bartender Tim Edwards is taking cocktail orders, circulating for refills, and helping Stolman with other hosting tasks. He’s stationed at the condo’s wet bar, which Stolman and Wilkie have outfitted with carved coconut heads and framed cartoons to evoke a kitschy Polynesian tiki hut. Located right at the entrance, it’s a perfect welcome for arriving guests. Eventually, the party reaches that critical buzz Stolman thrives on, signifying yet another successful event in his entertaining repertoire. The only question that remains is when these happy guests will ever be motivated to leave. While Stolman recommends cocktail parties last only two hours (anything longer “gets sloppy,” he says), it’s clear this one, as many before, may break that rule. But the serial entertainer of course has a solution to that conundrum. “If all else fails,” he quips, “get out the vacuum or close down the bar—or both.” «
On cocktail party attire: Think about how you look from the waist up, as that’s how people see you at a stand-up cocktail party. Men, think about a natty blazer, a crisp white shirt, and a pocket square. Women, consider a beautiful tailored shirt and a dramatic necklace. On drinking glasses: I prefer quantity over quality. While I love our heavy etched crystal double old fashioneds and delicate stemware, it’s the dumb all-purpose bubble wine glasses that get used the most and seem to hold up the best. Splurge for several dozen and you will never worry about having enough for last-minute get-togethers. On the hostess gift: Whatever you do, do not show up with flowers. I have written about it, spoken about it, and tweeted ad nauseam. I don’t care if it’s the first black iris of the season or your mother’s prize-winning rose or tulips from the Netherlands—save it for later. What is an awful nuisance the night of a party is a delight the next day, especially with a nice handwritten note. On being a good guest: The best guests are the ones who arrive happy and light up the room. They seem genuinely grateful to be in your home and circulate through the crowd greeting friends and introducing themselves to strangers. They are intuitive and can spot a newcomer and draw him in. They don’t gather in cliques or take themselves on house tours looking to see what’s new. They don’t leave with your new Diptyque room spray in their purse. On being a good host: A good party host must be the ultimate facilitator for people to have a good time. It is a totally unselfish undertaking, so those who need to be the center of attention should probably not entertain, as it won’t be about them. One needs to be adaptable to any deviation from plan, nuanced to adjust any and every element in real time, and unabashedly fearless.