If there’s one thing we have in common with Real Housewife of Orange County's Heather Dubrow, it’s her commitment to hosting iconic dinner parties. And with the holidays just around the corner and newly discovered recipes from our favorite cookbooks (ok, fine, TikTok) we feel especially inspired to gather our favorite people for a celebratory evening together. In preparation for hosting the dinner party of our dreams, we turned to Bravo’s favorite on-screen hostess aka Ms. “Fancy Pants" herself for her best hosting tips. Ahead, she shares the six things she always does when putting on a party—and the *one* thing she avoids at all costs as a guest.
RHOC's Heather Dubrow on the 6 Do's of Hosting a Dinner Party (and the 1 Thing She Never Does as a Guest).
Meet the Expert
Do: Curate the Guest List
“This is very important. Once, I hosted a dinner party, and I sat two people at my table who didn’t get along at all–and I had no idea,” Dubrow reminisces. “A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want the guest at your own table, they shouldn't be invited to your dinner party, period,” Dubrow says. And if you’re hoping that means you get a pass on inviting Aunt Suzy who always asks if you’re single, the answer is no. “The only exception to this rule is if they are family, of course," she adds.
Do: Use Seating Cards
“I don’t care if it’s a card with the guest’s full name, or just the person’s initials,” Dubrow says. “There are really fun and clever ways to organize seating, and it’s key to the social aspect of setting the scene. For example, you wouldn’t want to sit the two most outgoing, talkative people next to each other at one end of the table and have the other side be quiet,” Dubrow cautions.
Do: Choose a Round or Square Table
“If you have the option, opt for a round or square table, as opposed to a long, formal table. Personally, I have a square-shaped dining table that seats eight–two guests on each side–in my home,” Dubrow shares. “I find that a long dining table is not really conducive to group conversation, and you get stuck talking to one or two people the entire evening.”
Do: Make Sure There Are Activities
As much as we enjoy eating hors d'oeuvres and sipping champagne, there comes a point at every party when you’re ready to shake things up. Dubrow recommends scheduling this moment between the main courses and dessert. “A dance break or karaoke works. If you’re into puzzles, then set up a corner table with that!” Dubrow advises. “Twelve years ago on RHOC, I heard about this woman who reads lipstick prints. Now, that sort of thing is everywhere, but back then, it was very unique. She called herself a “lipologist “and guests would swipe on lipstick, kiss an index card and she would read their lipstick print, like reading their palm."
Do: Have a Speciality Cocktail
“For me, I like a party atmosphere,” Dubrow confesses. As any Bravo fan knows, Heather is always the *hostess with the mostest* from her sophisticated attire to her signature champagne, better known as “champs” on the show. “I always hold a cocktail hour before dinner. I try to have a specialty cocktail based on a theme or the season, too. If it’s the fall or winter, I’ll do a mulled wine. If it’s in the summer, maybe I'll do a Spritz. I include a non-alcoholic option on the menu as well. But my favorite thing to do is core out pineapples and serve champagne and ice in them. It’s fun, and a pineapple corer is an underrated hostess gift."
Do: Give Out Party Favors
Although the thought of giving party favors might feel juvenile or lavish, Dubrow assures it's actually the opposite. “Party favors make every event memorable. One year, I made take-home tequila boxes with mini bottles of Patron, shot glasses, limes and little salt shakers,” Dubrow says. “When I hosted the other housewives on the show, I gave out Tom Ford’s Fucking Fabulous candles. I've also given out Magic 8 balls, lottery tickets and card games. Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s chic.”
Don't: Bring the Host Flowers
If you remember your mother telling you to never show up anywhere empty handed, she was right–but there's a catch. “It’s true, you never want to show up at a dinner party empty handed, but please don't bring flowers as a gift because then you're giving the host a task,” Dubrow emphasizes. “Bringing someone cut flowers means they need to find a vase, make them look pretty, and find somewhere to put them. It’s too much,” Dubrow shares, clearly speaking from experience as a skilled host and guest. “Instead, bring a bottle of wine if it’s a dinner party, or a game like Twister. People feel pressure to spend a certain amount of money on a host gift, but it really doesn’t have to be expensive for it to be good. Picture frames are great, too. Something fun, thoughtful and creative is always a fabulous choice."