Entertaining guests can be a process that’s not always so, well… entertaining. Beyond the pre-party logistics and invitations, there’s everything that happens the day you play host or hostess. Delightful drinks, delicious dinners, and lively conversation aren’t always as easily made as a tray of simple canapés. And times have changed. How formal should you be with glassware? Is a caviar course overdoing it? And where would Emily Post stand on TikTok at the table? (We think we might have a hunch on that one).

Thankfully, there are experts of the art who make everything appear as seamless as silk—even if the efforts behind the scenes are Herculean. Enter Alex Hitz, the Southern entertaining guru, chef, and TV personality who was christened “the very best host in the world” by The Wall Street Journal. The author of two leading books on the subject, Alex has ideas for how to be a hospitable host as well as a thoughtful guest, which starts before you even cross the threshold at a party. 

Alex Hitz

When it comes to hostess gifts, Hitz advises, “I actually like to send things earlier or later—I usually arrive empty-handed. The host or hostess has enough to deal with without trying to manage my offering. Send some flowers, a book, or a case of wine… You get the picture.”

Speaking of which, Hitz has a refreshingly uncomplicated point of view on bar essentials that keeps things easy to manage. In an era of trendy drinks (we’re looking at you, Negroni Sbagliato), Hitz’s favorite must-have item is a classic, with one simple rule. “Great red wine: Never run out!” he exclaims. As a matter of fact, Hitz puts it above all the bar cart accoutrements in terms of dinner party must-haves. “I know you were expecting me to choose cocktail shakers, bar knives, and water pitchers,” he says, “but I’m always happy with just a great red wine.”

And as for that question of caviar? It’s just a matter of needing the right moment… or a day of the week ending in the letter “y.” “Everything needs an occasion, right? Caviar is its own.”

Shop the full curation of Alex Hitz’s favorite pieces from the latest issue of our print publication, Magazinish. To read all of Magazinishclick here.

All photos: Iain Bagwell

September 18, 2023

Dennis Sarlo is the executive editor of Chairish and a lover of all things design-related. Prior to joining the team, he served as the executive editor of Dering Hall and was the first site director of Architectural Digest. He was also part of the founding team of travel startup Jetsetter. He lives in New York.