Entertaining | You're Invited

Take Your Seat

By Kristy Eckert

They are the gurus who help others around Columbus throw sensational celebrations. So what are their personal soirees like? Here’s an inside look at three intimate dinner parties hosted by local entertaining experts—and tips from them on executing your own.

Elegant Charm

Host: Jason Mangum

Location: His New Albany Home

His Story: Mangum owns Twig Garden & Home, which specializes in floral design and home décor. He opened his shop in German Village two years ago, expanded soon thereafter, and is now in an even larger space in New Albany. He grew up in the Carolinas and moved eight times in 11 years for his partner’s work—hopscotching around from New York to Seattle and several cities between—before landing in Columbus. Now, he counts Governor John Kasich and Victoria’s Secret among his clients.

1. Send invitations

“We are in such a technological world with Facebook and texting and Tweets, and it’s so unpersonal,” Mangum says. “I do not agree with e-invites or sending something over Facebook. It’s one of the extra steps I think you should take, with the invitation. Send them.” For this party, Mangum sent each of his guests floral arrangements with the invites attached.

2. Choose guests wisely

“I only invite people who like everybody,” Mangum says. “I learned one time the hard way.”

3. Keep it simple

“You should always have fun,” Mangum says. “Don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t produce a production that you can’t follow through on.”

4. Décor

Cluster decorations, like candles, in odd numbers. And vary the heights of décor on the table.

5. Comfort is key

Make sure your guests are comfortable. Kindly take their jackets and handbags upon arrival. Pour them their beverage of choice. Show them where the appetizers are.

6. Take your time

“I always think that you do appetizers first,” Mangum says. “I like for it to be long. Get to mingle, get to know each other, talk. And then slowly go into some type of main course.”

7. Move around

“I think that you really want people to be able to go through different parts of your home,” Mangum says. “You don’t want to stay at the same chair at the same table.” He moved guests from space to space throughout his party—hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen, drinks on the patio, dinner in the dining room.

8. Involve guests

Perhaps you ask one or two guests to be in charge of keeping wine glasses filled, and another one or two to help serve dinner. “I think it’s much more fun to have your guests involved in the evening,” Mangum says.

9. Spark conversation

Consider having a list of questions to ask guests at dinner.

10. Enjoy

“I think that when a host or a hostess is having an event, whether it’s dinner or whatever, I think we get so caught up in what’s going on and trying to make everything right that we actually forget to spend time with the people that are there,” Mangum says. “It’s so easy for a host or a hostess to lose direction in what it’s actually about, and that’s a gathering of friends and good times.”

5 Devilishly Delightful Details

  • Print menus
  • Add a sprig of rosemary to each table setting
  • Slide raspberries in the champagne
  • Dim the lighting
  • Light candles