In a special combined podcast of Success with Style and Fun In Fundraising, Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli join in a conversation with Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper, the authors of the chic new book, Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime. This elevated, insider’s look at special occasion entertaining is chock full of ideas for your own hosting. You’ll come away with entertaining tips and tricks that even an amateur can execute.
Few cities know how to entertain like New Orleans. The brand new, and very, very glamorous book, Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime, set in Louisiana, should be on every coffee table or bookshelf once it debuts on August 29th, (available at ClassicalShindig.com, from Susan Schadt Press). It offers readers a captivating and unique exploration into the world of stylish entertaining that also includes music. Deftly authored by Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper, this book showcases the simple yet profound beauty of home entertaining, while shedding light on how to personalize your own hosting.
The book commences with a warm and engaging introduction by the authors, establishing their passion and desire to celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments of successful hosting. Their writing style strikes the perfect balance between informative and personable, making the book accessible to readers from all walks of life, whether they are seasoned hosts or novices to entertaining.
One of the standout aspects of Classical Shindig is the exceptional array of anecdotes and personal experiences shared by the authors. They show just how approachable entertaining can be. Of course, if you grew up wanting to entertain like they did, the sky’s the limit. “It’s not that difficult,” shares Michael Harold. “For instance, if we have somebody we’re entertaining, maybe somebody from out of town who has a special interest, let’s say a musician, then we’ll throw a party. We’ll say, ‘okay, it’s to celebrate Beethoven’ and we’ll all play Beethoven’s music on the piano, and we’ll have Austrian food.”
Their captivating stories provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of various moments of triumph of how they successfully entertain. Each anecdote reinforces the book’s central theme–that entertaining, at its core, is an art form meant to be embraced and practiced by anyone with a passion for it, regardless of their experience. However, unique themes help, and basing entertaining tips on worldly experiences can often help even more, too. “When I went to Oxford University, there was a wonderful professor there who used to give these fun house parties for the whole weekend,” enthuses Quinn Peeper. “There was studying involved, of course, but then he would always assign a play. It was usually by Noel Coward and guests were assigned roles. It was hilarious. It’s a great way to get to know other people that you haven’t met before. As time went on during the weekend, you end up being good friends, finding a lot of things in common you didn’t know you had.”
Harold and Peeper’s meticulous research is evident throughout the book, as they introduce readers to a diverse range of their plethora of party successes. Every narrative is woven together with care and appreciation for the events, both small and grand, that they have created. Their advice is as pristine as their parties. “I wouldn’t be intimidated. Look around and see what’s happening for ideas,” they both advise. “Is the theme a book? Is the theme a piece of music? Who are the friends? What do the friends have in common? What brought all these people together? Usually, we find a thread. Or, if you can’t find it that way, look outside. What is the season? If it’s autumn, you can include a beautiful red, brown, yellow, and orange palette. Or, if it’s spring, bring the outdoors in with blooming azaleas and other flowers. Before you know it, you’ve got your party covered with a theme.”
The book’s structure is well-organized, with each chapter focusing on a different aspect of their passion for hosting. Classical Shindig covers a broad spectrum of party ideas that the reader can replicate on their own. Additionally, the inclusion of beautiful illustrations and five-star photography further enhances the reading experience, providing readers with a multi-dimensional appreciation of the featured events with topics such as Seasonal Celebrations, Book Club Parties, Paying And Playing It Forward, and of course, the theme, Family And Friends.
The duo’s familiy functions take precedence in the book’s narrative. “What we have in common is that we came from families where we sat down at breakfast and dinner together. At the end of the day, it’s an exchange of ideas. It was a celebration of the every day,” the authors concur. Regarding themes, they agree by saying, “The selection of the event’s month it occurs is usually full of settings and possible things that could provide interesting menus. That always makes for a great dinner party. I think we have five or six selections that we used in the book for that. For non-profit organizations, if you entertain and volunteer to use your house, usually those organizations will have a theme that they’re working with.”
As the authors point out, entertaining isn’t only about hosting, as Quinn Peeper confides. “The Duchess of Windsor had some interesting quotes about this, and I agree,” he says. “I think the pressure and the stress is really on the guests because as she says, nobody has the right to come to a party and sit there like a piece of furniture. You know, if you accept a dinner invitation, you have a moral obligation to be amusing. So, with practice and over time, I think anybody can entertain and the pressure really is on the guests.”
With that in mind, we can all strive to be good hosts and good guests. Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime is a delightful and inspiring read for anyone passionate about upping their game as they hone their entertaining skills. Through engaging storytelling and a celebration of the human spirit, Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper succeed in illuminating the profound impact of the joy entertaining can bring to us all.
To listen to the Success With Style and Fun In Fundraising combo podcast featuring an insider’s look at Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime, visit Success with Style and Fun In Fundraising.