Manners, Manners! Sandy Hill on Elephants, Entertaining

Sandy Hill, the guest of honor at last night’s party for her new book, Fandango, took a few minutes from scrawling her name and chatting cheerfully to speak with us about the art of entertaining. In Ms. Hill’s view, hosting is all about being calm and composed in front of the guests.

“If things go wrong, it’s okay!” she beamed, looking relaxed in a J. Mendel dress. “Turn the lemons into lemonade. Have an easygoing attitude about it after you’ve done all the planning that you can. The book is about knock-yourself-out, big-time entertaining, but at the same time, having flexibility and realizing that it’s a party and it’s about making people feel welcome and wanted in your home,” she said.

These days, Ms. Hill spends most of her time overseeing the day-to-day operation of a vineyard she owns with her husband in California’s Santa Ynez Valley. But not long ago, she was a fast-paced New Yorker through-and-through. Before 2000, when she moved back to her native California, she held editorships at Mademoiselle and Bride’s, regularly contributing to other publications like Vogue, Allure, Men’s Journal and USA Today. Fandango is her first book, but writing, it seems, is hardly a novel craft for Ms. Hill.

Asked if she could recall one of her parties that stood out in her mind more than the rest, Ms. Hill responded immediately. Her most memorable fete, she told us, marked Lord Ganesh’s birthday. To honor the special occasion, she hired a parade of Indian elephants to tromp through her vines. Bo Derek was apparently among the witnesses at the event. (On her book’s Web site, part of the introduction reads: “And while you may never have an elephant on hand to give your guests rides at a party, there’s nothing to stop you from equally singular flights of imagination.” Sadly, the site makes no consolation for the lack of a missing former model-actress.)

The first-time author said she is already in the throes of her next project—opening a wine bar and retail store on the fourth floor of the Time-Warner Center. It’s to be called Clo and the concept for the place is, according to a laughing Ms. Hill, “very high.” In a space designed by New York-based firm 2×4, also responsible for the Prada store in SoHo, the vino bar will offer some 150 wines that have all been “curated by our team of sommeliers,” she said.

Manners, Manners! Sandy Hill on Elephants, Entertaining