Aerin Lauder knows how to entertain. The businesswoman got an early start: She hosted quite a few Barbie doll fêtes with her sister when they were children, learning directly from the best. “I always used to love to watch my mother and grandmother set the table,” Lauder says. Jo Carole and Estée, both fabulous hostesses in their own right, imparted their wisdom upon Lauder as she grew up; her formal debut with entertaining was with her own wedding, a fairy-tale-like country affair. Since then, Lauder has gone on to found her eponymous brand, Aerin, where her entertaining skills have come in quite handy.
Now, Lauder is sharing her best tips in her new book, Entertaining Beautifully ($55), in which readers are whisked away on a journey through the four seasons. “In the different seasons, you change your entertaining style. You use different flowers, different colors,” says Lauder. “So it was really fun for me to divide it up by season, showing you a year of entertaining.” The book covers everything from spring luncheons to picnics on a boat to halloween celebrations to après-ski. Here, we’re bringing you a peek at its pages.
“Spring feels like a time of new beginnings to me, even more so than New Year’s,” writes Lauder in the book. “That first day you don’t have to wear your heavy winter coat is so liberating and joyful.” In this section, she shares tips for formal events, from table settings to invitations and menus, and what to do if the weather won’t cooperate for an outdoor affair.
Lauder also shares her insight about more casual gatherings, like a leisurely breakfast buffet. “The silver lining of this whole pandemic has been spending time with family, and that means entertaining: being in your kitchen, being with people that you care about—a small group,” she says. “People have really been gravitating toward home. It’s very different than when we were all in the past traveling, working, eating lunch at our desk in an office.”
Summer, of course, is all about spending time outdoors. “Nature is a huge part of my source of inspiration, whether it’s flowers, shells, or the sea,” says Lauder. Speaking of flowers, she believes they’re the most important touch when creating a tablescape. “I think that anything fresh on the table immediately creates a beautiful mood,” Lauder says. “And it could be one beautiful flower—it doesn’t always have to be about a ton of flowers. It’s just something living.”
The season also brings around a major entertaining holiday: the Fourth of July. “For a picnic, whether on a boat, at the beach, or in a park, it’s best to keep the food uncomplicated, but fun to make the meal unexpectedly elegant with real plates, linen napkins, silverware, and glasses rather than disposable plastic,” she writes in the book.
Aesthetically speaking, particularly from a decor point of view, autumn provides a dramatic shift from spring and summer, and it heralds a return to indoor entertaining. “Entertaining at home, I tend to dress up more, add touches of gold to my table and interiors, and light more candles to combat the earlier nightfall,” writes Lauder.
She also embraces the fantasy of Halloween, not only because she throws a themed birthday party for her son Will, born on November 1. “It’s the perfect time of year to indulge the child in all of us with sweet treats and whimsical decorations,” says Lauder.
A good portion of the winter section of the book is dedicated to holidays, naturally, and Lauder balances a rustic Thanksgiving with an opulent Christmas. “In my family growing up and now with my own family, we have always celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas,” she writes. “On Christmas morning, my father would make us apple pancakes and we would open gifts in our pajamas, traditions I’ve continued with my own children.” But Christmas Eve dinner was always a lavish affair.
Once the holidays have passed and the new year begins, there’s still time left in the season for skiing! Lauder spends some of the winter in Colorado, where she hosts intimate gatherings for close friends and family. “Winter entertaining calls for heartier comfort foods like chili and hot chocolate, a richer color palette of browns and greens, and seasonal branches and blooms, like evergreens, red berries, and winter white flowers,” she writes.