POPSUGAR Celebrity

1 Girl's Tips on How to Entertain Like Nobody Else

Feb 3 2016 - 5:30pm

You know how there are certain types of people you want to be best friends with? That's how you'll feel about Annie Gabillet once you get to know her a bit — and it's not because she's POPSUGAR's own living director. It's no understatement when we say this girl really knows how to entertain her friends and family like no one else can. (Just look at her stunning Provence, France, wedding [1] for proof.)

That's part of the reason she and her husband fell in love with their new two-bedroom San Francisco home: its open floor plan makes it so easy to host friends. And considering Annie likes to throw a cocktail hour or dinner party around three times a month, it was a match made in entertaining heaven. Some of her favorite hosting memories in the space include an Italian pasta cook-off for her husband's birthday, a fun game night with friends, and whiskey and wine tastings from her large collection.

Where did she learn how to play hostess, and why does she love it so much? Part of it was passed down from her mom, who once hosted her own pasta cook-off years ago. Mostly she just enjoys spending time with loved ones. "My ideal Friday night isn't going to bars, but hanging out at home with friends and having intimate convos," she says.

Still, there's more to it than that. Annie's entertaining style is unique because she makes sure that when guests come over, they have an interactive experience, that they do something they can't do at a restaurant, and that they experience a "wow-factor," as she calls it. What, exactly, does that mean? Let's find out.

— Styling by Emily Bibb

Aperitivo time! One of Annie's favorite things to serve is a predinner drink, along with light snacks. Her go-to is Aperol Spritz, a bright, light drink [2] that tastes just as great as it looks. Annie first tasted it when she and her husband were
in Portofino, Italy, for their honeymoon. They asked their server for something that the locals drink, and as soon as she tasted it, she thought, "This is Summer in a glass."

Aperol Spritz isn't too well known in the US, which is what makes it special to serve and such a conversation starter. Her other entertaining essentials: fresh flowers, cheese, Champagne, and an after-dinner drink, be it cognac or whiskey.

Wow factors don't have to be too extravagant. They just have to be different — like these Italian cookies Annie got at a local shop.

How stunning is this bar cart Annie got from Target? It holds one of her entertaining secrets: she'll often ask guests to look through the cocktail book and choose a drink that they'd like to try. A fun way to engage friends!

The fact that Annie's kitchen, dining room, and living room flow into one another is key to showing guests a good time. For one, it lets Annie create a single cohesive vibe — she doesn't have to worry about setting up music in different rooms. It's also important because it lets her interact with friends even when she's in the kitchen whipping up a drink.

Often, Annie and her friends will start in the living room for a drink before moving to the dining room. She always has magazines on hand for guests to browse.

Another thing Annie appreciates about her floor plan is that, if several people come over, she can pull up a few extra chairs in the living area, and guests won't feel separated from anyone in the dining room.

Would you believe those are kale flowers in that vase? It's one more essential picked by Annie for its wow factor.

What we love the most about Annie's hosting style is her mantra. It's special but simple enough to copy: "I want people to leave here having had fun, being well fed, and having had a better experience than going to a restaurant and bar."

With her keen entertaining style — and that stunning city view! — that's almost impossible not to achieve.

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