Hostess Extraordinaire India Hicks Shares Her Easy, Breezy Entertaining Secrets
The style icon’s new book gives creative advice on setting the stage for everything from family gatherings to epic events
With her infectious flair for living life well, India Hicks makes everyone feel invited to the party in her new book, An Entertaining Story (Rizzoli). From barefoot dinners in Harbour Island in the Bahamas to high tea in England, any event she creates sparkles with charm, warmth, and wit. But this book isn’t a how-to for perfectionists; instead, it celebrates her slightly madcap spin on how to set the table and show your guests a good time.
“I never think of myself as a hostess, but what I’ve loved learning over the years is how to make an interesting evening that people go away from and remember,” says Hicks. “It could be the combination of the guests, the good food—even if it’s as simple as chicken potpie, the way the candles are arranged, or even you’ve used duvets as tablecloths.”
Packed with exactly those kinds of clever tips, inventive ideas, and easy-to-follow recipes, the book feels like a party unto itself, especially with the images of her guests gathered and having a wonderful time, as well as the contributors who bring the story to life. There’s a foreword from her dear friend Brooke Shields, steps for the perfect martini from Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and family recipes from Hicks’s longtime cook, Claire Williams.
When it comes to recipes, Hicks admits it’s not her forte and claims she got all her cooking skills from her mother. “She and I literally can’t cook, and that’s really okay,” she laughs. “I can’t roast the lamb, but I love making it look pretty for when it comes out to the table. And you don’t have to be apologetic about that. I love buying things already made and supporting local food businesses.” There is hope for the next generation of her clan, though. “My daughter Domino, who is 12, excels at baking, and we’re very into decorating birthday cakes.”
Her home in Harbour Island provides endless resources for entertaining as well. She’s always scheming a new, unexpected place for the dining table—whether it’s in a grove of trees or on the water’s edge. A key piece of advice for dining: “Watch the tides. You want to make sure it’s going out.” She also looks to the natural vegetation to create inventive centerpieces—bananas hanging from trees, palm fronds, and anything flowering. “It’s so easy when you look around at what you’ve got at hand. It’s nice not to have to buy anything,” she admits.
Hicks does keep plenty of tea lights stocked, though. “They’re ideally romantic and set the tone,” she shares. “My father, David Hicks, who was a great decorator, would be appalled by them, saying, ‘They’re small and insignificant. There’s no drama.’ But I love them.” With Hicks, there’s always an element of drama—whether it’s a never-ending arrangement for 100 or a dressed-up folding table for a party of two. Another hallmark is a freedom from perfection—the napkins and silver might be mismatched, and the plates may be from a flea market.
These special touches are exactly what put her guests at ease. Beautiful table settings and advice on how to seat guests ensure that the conversation is just as captivating as the atmosphere. That’s the perfect kind of party—when long after dessert is over, everyone lingers and never wants to leave the table. After reading, there’s no chance you’ll ever look at cocktail hour or a table setting the same way again.