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Lipstick on the Rim: EyeSwoon’s Athena Calderone On Entertaining 101 for the Holidays and Beyond – Where to Start, Easy-to-Execute Tablescape Ideas, Why Two Recipes is All You Need, and More


Athena Calderone (A.K.A.) EyeSwoon is many things. As an interior designer, author, chef, and entertaining expert she has mastered the home, and, thus, has mastered the art of throwing a seamless dinner party. In fact, her hostess skills stem from days of debilitating shyness. Soon thereafter, a star was born. As we head into the holidays, we wanted to pick Athena’s brain on all things entertaining from where to start (especially if you aren’t one for hosting), easy and affordable ways to set a table, why having two recipes in your back pocket will save you—and so much more. We hope this inspires you to bring your loved ones together for your next gathering (hopefully no stress included).

[Athena] On Entertaining

“I always say ‘simple ideas, thoughtfully executed.’ It doesn’t need to be fancy, nor does it have to be expensive. If you’re not much of a cook and you’re going to entertain, order in and just present it really beautifully. You don’t have to not entertain just because you don’t know how to cook or don’t enjoy cooking. I love to think as things as a 360-degrees experience. Think about the lighting: dim your lights, have candlelight, don’t have it all placed too high or too low, and try to have a variety. Pick a playlist and make sure you’re not running around while you’re entertaining figuring out your speakers. Besides lighting and sound, even consider the scent as your guests arrive. Really think about every aspect of the experience. Create a world that people step into. Figure everything out in advance so you don’t stress, can be a present host, and enjoy the experience just as much as your guests.”

[Athena] On Tablescapes

“People are most likely not going to buy multiple sets of plates, flatware, linen napkins and so on. So keeping things a little bit neutral is probably the safest, but there is a color attached to each season. Seasonality for me is really the springboard for when I think about how I’m going to set my table. I like to set my table (whether its flowers or linens) darker, richer, and moodier in the Winter and kind of lighter and brighter in Spring and Summer. Cream or white napkins are safe, but play around with the colors of the flowers for example. I also love to set my tables with fruits or vegetables. The starting point can be very overwhelming, but you can just go to the market and pick seasonal products or of seasonal colors. Have some things that have height (like candlesticks), while the others can be in mounds or trickling down the table.”

[Athena] On Recipes

“If you’re not a seasoned host and you want to get your start, I think you should find two recipes that are in your back pocket that you can make with your eyes closed. Figure out what that recipe is that you don’t have to stress about. It’s something that can be prepped in advance, and more importantly, it can be something you don’t have to have a laborious experience preparing, especially during the dinner when your guests are over. That’s a great first step. Especially during the holiday season, one of my go-to recipes is a braised short rib in red wine with a super silky potato. I also love a whole roasted chicken. It’s so simple. Toss any vegetable in the same pan in a high heat oven and it’s so good. I like that these can be prepped completely in advance.”

Athena’s Must-Haves:

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