Dorinda Medley Has Holiday Hosting Down To A Science

The ultimate hostess shares her secrets.

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The words “I come to life on October first” might typically be uttered by a witch, warlock, or anyone else who gets their fill by welcoming black cats and goblins into their home. But when you consider the “berserk” life of former Real Housewives of New York star Dorinda Medley and the questionable characters she’s had to put up with during her stint on the show, it makes perfect sense that this line came from Medley herself.

For Medley, October is the official start of the holiday season, so those of you who are just now thinking about twinkle lights and tinsel are officially late by her rules. Medley, who has a partnership with Amazon, already has an Echo Show 15 and Ring Video Doorbell to make greeting guests a cinch. And just in time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and any other holiday you celebrate, she shared her best (and seriously iconic) hosting tips with Bustle, so you can breathe a little easier during the stress of the season.

On The Perfect Gift For A Host

I’ll tell you what: The perfect gift for me is always a candle. I think even to receive it, you never are disappointed when you get a beautiful candle. They store well; you can put it away and use it at a later time. It’s a luxury that a lot of times I don’t even afford myself. I’m like, “Ugh, I don’t need to spend $60 or $40 or $20 on a candle right now.”

If someone gives it to you, you can use it in your bathroom; you can use it in your living room. Then it’s nice because every time you light it, you think about the person that gave it to you.

On Handing Out Gift Bags

If I’m having people for a weekend, I think a beautiful thing to do is to leave something on their bed before arrival. Maybe a little bath soap or bath ball, with a little welcoming note. Again, maybe a little candle. Then they see it right there.

The problem is when I’ve done these gift bags at the end of the day, they end up all over my house. No one takes them. Everybody forgets them.

On Assigning Place Cards At Dinner

I love it. Especially when you do it with purpose. I try to invite people that I know from all different walks of life, and I love to watch them come together. I’ll sit people purposely like that, like an artist, maybe someone that’s a banker or my doctor who’s sitting by my florist in the Berkshires. It’s a well thought-out symphony, really. Especially if you’re matchmaking, then you’ve really got to think about it.

On Calming Down If You’re An Anxious Host

People put too much pressure on themselves. [If] you’re bringing people together, you’re having food and hopefully alcohol, and you have good music, you’re 99% there.

I think the key for the hostess is to do as much preparation beforehand. You don’t have to do seven courses. You don’t even have to serve it or plate it — you can serve it buffet style. Once people are in your house and the atmosphere is set, you’ve got the music on, you’ve got good people, and the food (although important!) doesn’t really become the focus.

On Dealing With A Disruptive Guest

If someone is being belligerent or rude, you have to pull them inside and say, “Hey, you’ve got to get your sh*t together or you’ve got to go.” I have no problems with that — none whatsoever.

There have been many times I’ve gently walked someone up the stairs and said, “Go to sleep now.” Usually, they get in those cozy sheets and duvet and are in full agreement with me.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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