Every occasion calls out for something extra, whether it's flowers you set on the table, foods to honor a special gathering, or the selection of music. For both hostess and guest, consideration of those around you is among the most important qualities for any enjoyable occasion. A smile and sense of humor are also essential, and before the canapés and night lighting a good hostess is ultimately defined by a welcoming and gracious demeanor.
In Occasions, designer Kate Spade invites you into her world of easy, festive entertaining, where the emphasis is not on "the perfect meal" but on having "the perfect time." It's a world where laughter and conversation at dinner parties are encouraged and where spilled red wine on the couch is no reason to stop the music. As Kate says, "Making your guests feel at home is truly an art and it's one worth cultivating."
Any occasion begins with preparation, and at the outset Kate describes such basic components as lighting (votive candles are a must); table linens, flatware, and glassware; flowers (trimmed short and tightly massed); even bedding for overnight or weekend guests. Party shopping lists, hors d'oeuvres and cocktail favorites, and dinner party menus are all included. An "Alphabet of Special Events," from baby showers to tailgate picnics, is both anecdotal and useful for would-be hostesses everywhere.
Whether you entertain a lot or a little, and whether your style is casual or formal, Occasions, with more than 230 charming watercolor illustrations, is a handy and fresh approach to the subject, a book to be treasured today and over the years. Above all, at any gathering "hospitality makes for infectious fun."
Fashion designer Spade has become a sort of style icon of the new millennium. First it was her ubiquitous handbags, then it was shoes, next came stationery and now she's telling us how to pen a thank-you note, what to pack for a beach bonfire and why a summer rainstorm calls for capri pants and flip-flops. This trio of "small books" is targeted squarely at the put-together woman (or the woman who wishes she were put-together). Each book mixes chatty but straight-ahead prose with cute line drawings. Spade's presence is evident throughout, between her personal anecdotes (in Occasions, she lets on, "One of my favorite things to do is shop flea markets, wherever I am") and the charming sketches of women sporting sparkly but demure shoes. While united in theme i.e., the modern woman embracing tradition, grace and old-fashioned beauty the books each have their own niche. Style mainly addresses what-to-wear issues and reads like an abridged version of the recently published style guides from Lucky and InStyle magazines. Occasions focuses on entertaining from cocktail parties to holiday dinners. And Manners covers such subjects as artful conversation and re-gifting. Style is probably the strongest of the three, as it's the subject on which Spade has the greatest authority. But Occasions and Manners are solid, too, if not exactly groundbreaking (they brim with grandmotherly advice, with a bit of Letitia Baldrige's modern etiquette thrown in). Taken together, the books should please hostesses and would-be Marthas of all ages.