Danielle Rollins, Veranda contributing editor, Southern Living contributor and Lifestyle Editor of, is the hospitality expert every novice aspires to become. This Southern Belle has hosted events with attendees including fashion icon, Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose and Rachel Roy and Wednesday evening, we saw her seamless hostess skills first hand at Saks Fifth Avenue at the Rizzoli Shop on Nine celebrating the launch of her book, Soiree: Entertaining with Style. Before we noshed on canapés and soaked in the atmospheric support and love Danielle Rollins exudes herself, we took a few moments to speak with Rollins about her love for entertaining.
StyleCartel – Give us a little bit of your history with style, entertaining and I hear a bit of a southern twang.
Danielle Rollins – A big southern twang and it gets worse after a few cocktails. I’ve just always loved having people over – when I’m sad it pick me up, when I’m happy it picks me up even more. I had who a daughter who got really hurt 3 years ago and spent nearly a year in the hospital and I never had lunch or dinner that I had to buy there; my friends would always bring me food. I got out and was doing a big funraiser for Oscar de la Renta for the children’s hospital and it was one of those things I was in such a bad mood and couldn’t get my head around this party. Then all of a sudden I thought it’s really hospitality that gets us through the low points of our lives and I hospitality all along, while in the hospital. It was a way for me to get myself back in the swing of things as you give the gift of hospitality – you know it’s better to give than receive. There’s something really magical that happens when you gather people in your own home, that doesn’t happen in a restaurant. Especially in the south, we have tradition of entertaining at home. Even down to a funeral after party, people gather together at our best and at our worsts to celebrate life.
SC – You’ve written for Veranda, you have your own style site, it’s apparent style and hospitality go hand in hand.
DR – I believe style, fashion, hospitality all go hand in hand. I believe we live the way we decorate and we dress the way we live. I think we entertain the way we live and decorate. I encourage people to be who they are, find out what looks best on them style wise. Don’t follow fashion. Don’t follow trends. Follow what looks good on you. Follow what fits your personality. So many time I find people have plain white China, which is great, especially if you’re a five star chef. But it doesn’t really match your dining room is purple. So pattern makes us happy, color makes us happy. It’s joyful. I encourage people to use things in different ways than they intended to. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
SC – And so your book, how did it come to fruition?
DR – I was doing this dinner for Oscar de la Renta and he turns to me and says, “You should do a book.” And I asked on what and he said, “On entertaining. You do is so stylishly, so effortlessly and it’s so beautiful.” [Entertaining] is somewhat of a lost art in hospitality. It’s been a labor of love and I wanted to take the reader through the inspiration and set-up of the party. I really enjoy seeing people smile and connecting people, and these parties really give me a stage to do that.
MAD LIBbing with Danielle Rollins
A great hostess…always has a sense of humor
A great guest… is equally entertaining
My dream party would include… my children and my friends.
My way to relax is… through gardening or cooking. Actually, I’m not a good relaxer. I think it’s overrated.
On weekends… I spend with my children, or I have big protege vegetable garden where I can spend hours and hours. It’s the only place I can truly go and disengage. It’s hard to talk on the cell phone and dig in the dirt. I also like riding my bike to the farmers market – I’m really just a bit of a homebody.
A party no-no… is a grumpy hostess who’s stretched to thin. I think you have to be very gracious and make every guest feel like you couldn’t wait to have them there. I’ve seen some many times where a hostess uses this time to complain about all the problems that went on before the party, though they should be making sure everyone is having a good time. No one needs to hear what went into the party to make sure they had a good time.