To say that the Real Housewives have had their fair share of dinner party throw downs would be an understatement. There was that one time on The Real Housewives of Orange County when Tamra Barney gave Alexis Bellino the boot from her gym-opening dinner, the night that The Real Housewives of New York City’s Aviva Drescher’s father cranked the sex-meter a little too high at Carole Radziwill’s house, and don’t forget the time that The Real Housewives of Miami’s Mama Elsa took on Miami legend, Thomas Crane. Dare I even begin to touch on The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s big Italian festivities (#tableflip)–it’s evident that the best dinner parties require a little drama!


On this season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the dinner drama has been fierce. We’ve seen Brandi Glanville call Joyce Giraud a “big fat pig” and Apollo Nida physically assault everyone at NeNe Leakes’s pyjama party. It’s true what they (read: Countess LuAnn de Lesseps) say, “money can’t buy you class!”


Suffice it to say, I think our favourite reality stars may need a little help in the event etiquette department. Your centrepiece can be pristine, your guest list amazing, but without some basic manners–you’re headed for disaster! Enter: Karen Cleveland of Toronto-based Finishing School, a self-proclaimed “etiquette steward” and the woman behind

Karen has teamed up with to share her top tips for throwing the perfect dinner party. Thank goodness! Maybe someone can forward this on?

1. Curate the perfect guest list. Invite people that will mix well and have something in common to discuss.
If only Karen could be on the event-planning committee for all housewives parties, am I right? We’ve seen some nasty combats that could have definitely been avoided by following this cardinal rule. If your “best friend’s” ex-husband had an affair with one of the servers at your restaurant–it’s probably best to not invite them to work your dinner party. (I’m talking to you, Vanderpump!)

2. Let your invitations set the tone. Want your guests to show up in cocktail attire? Is your shindig super casual? Your invitation is the first introduction to your party, thus it should set the tone.
First things first, Karen is totally right. An invitation is very important and makes your guests feel special! There have been many occasions where invitations have been declined due to insincere game of telephone tag, e.g., “Tell Camille she can come if she wants.” Personally reaching out to each individual is essential–and remember, the more the merrier!

3. Serve what you know. A dinner party isn't the time to test drive a wildly complicated recipe for the first time. Stick to what you know will work well.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a housewife cook for a dinner party, but chances are if you’re reading this you don’t have the luxury of your own in-house chef. Karen’s advice will save you grief before, after and during your function. If you’re a daredevil and you insist on getting a little crazy, try a new dip or appetizer. If it’s a flop, no harm, no foul.

4. Sweat the small stuff. Well before your guests arrive, sort out floral, decor, candles, stock up on provisions and organize music. Make sure your place is sparkly clean.
Details, details, details! While many of the housewives hire celebrity event planners to facilitate even the smallest of festivities, many of the ladies enjoy doing it their way. Beverly Hills native, Yolanda Foster, is the ultimate homemaker and loves to add personal touches to all aspects of her life. This season, she went a bit overboard by putting hearts on the name tags of “her team” at what was supposed to be a dinner party among friends. That’s one way to tick people off!

5. Host with the most. Do your best to stay out of the kitchen, keep your alcohol consumption in check to better gauge your party and introduce people via something they have in common, "Daniel, meet Trevor--you were both in Italy around the same time last year."
Gauging your party is critical when a mixture of personalities are all placed in the same room. A great buffer for awkward experiences is a game…or if you’re married to David Foster, a performance by the Canadian Tenors will always work, too.


Tune in to The Real Housewives of Atlanta on Mondays at 9et|10pt and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Tuesdays at 10pm et. Check out our video centre to watch full episodes.

jess-denomme-bioJessica Denomme is a Toronto-based publicist, freelance writer and publisher of A big fan of reality television, Jessica spends an embarrassing amount of time tuned-in to Slice. When she’s not hanging out with her favourite real housewives, she’s an avid yogi, wine connoisseur and mommy to her pooch, Daphne. Follow her on Twitter @jessdenomme.