ENTERTAINING WITH "SOUTHERN CHARM"

 Southern Charm's Patricia Altschul enjoys her favorite beverage - a martini made by her butler.

Southern Charm's Patricia Altschul enjoys her favorite beverage - a martini made by her butler.

It's hard to resist the allure of socialite Patricia Altschul. Her appearances on the Bravo TV reality show Southern Charm, filmed in Charleston, have gained her a following of fans who could care less about the drama between the show's cast members. They tune in just to catch glimpses of her spectacular lifestyle.

The 75-year-old Southerner lives in one of Charleston's most gorgeous historic mansions (an 1854 Greek Revival), she has her own butler (his name is Michael and she can't function without him) and a closet full of couture caftans (Oscar de la Renta was a friend). Now do you understand why we're obsessed? The witty observations and advice she throws out between sips of her ever-present martini are an added bonus. 

For Bravo TV's website, she shared her expertise on how to entertain. She'll be sharing more of her elegant and fun ideas in an entertaining book that's expected to be out next year. She also has a new website, www.patriciaaltschul.com, that's as fabulous as she is. We're extra excited to see that through the site fans can ask Michael the butler a question. 

Here are Patricia's Top Party Tips: 

1. Give yourself at least a month to plan and organize your party. 

2. The invitation sets the tone, so call people to invite them rather than sending an email. 

3. If you don't want to spend money on an expensive flower arrangement buy orchids because they last for three months and go with everything. 

4. Candles are festive, but make sure they're in a safe place. 

5. Cocktails should last no longer than one hour before a dinner party.

6. A cocktail party should only be for two hours and have lots of food. 

7. Buy top shelf liquor and good wine.

8. Serve delicious food. It doesn't have to be fancy. A wonderful lasagna, salad and homemade cookies are perfection.

9. Lighting is key. It should be soft and flattering.

10. Disasters are bound to happen, so just laugh them away. 

11. Have fun and enjoy your guests.