As the winter months approach, and stress over gift –buying and party planning amounts, follow the lead of an expert entertainer. Ambassador Kathryn Hall, former liaison to Austria from 1997 to 2001, has hosted countless politicians and power players over the years as well as attending her fair share of both high-profile and intimate gatherings.
Now owner and vintner of HALL Wines (Napa Valley – www.hallwines.com), Ambassador Hall is constantly accommodating visitors at her acclaimed winery. Follow her expert tips on how to survive the holiday season without any major etiquette faux pas:
1. Make guests comfortable with a warm, welcoming ambience. Inspire holiday cheer with a lit fireplace, candles, festive place settings and inviting decorative elements. If you’re hosting a sit-down dinner, create seating arrangements in advance so as to avoid any potentially awkward pairings.
2. “A Case Just in Case”: Always be prepared for the unexpected gift or a last minute invitation - have a case of HALL wine on hand for hostess or reciprocal gifts. This holiday season, HALL Wines is offering cases of their highly rated varietals, with prices starting at $432.
3. Don’t overstay your welcome. Don’t linger or reach for another drink when your hosts are already cleaning up; take the hint if you’re being shooed out or if the crowd is beginning to thin.
4. Bring two different wines. Everyone has a different palate – and tasting different wines side by side adds a conversational element to any dinner party. Gifting two different varietals will satisfy tastes and evoke dialogue about preferences.
5. A short ‘Thank You’ goes a long way. A hand-written note or a phone call to your hosts shows your appreciation for the invitation, while acknowledging all their hard work. Always make your note personal, mentioning a specific aspect of the party that you particularly enjoyed.