The Art of Living: A Modern Guide to Gathering


Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Excerpted from “The Southern Living Party Cookbook” by Elizabeth Heiskell. Copyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corporation. New York, NY. All rights reserved. Photography courtesy of Antonis Achilleos & Caitlin Bensel.

In 1972 just six years after “Southern Living” was founded, the magazine published its “Party Cookbook” with a simple subtitle: “Complete Menus and Entertaining Guide.” The book was written by a witty Chattanooga food columnist named Celia Marks, who clearly understood the art of the soiree. By today’s standards, the cover is not attractive—a dark photo of a crown roast surrounded by spiced crabapples and parsley—but it sold more copies than any other cookbook in “Southern Living” history. Some of that success can no doubt be attributed to the menus and recipes, which cover every kind of party you can imagine (from a He-Man Brunch to a Holiday Reception), but the secret sauce is Mark’s advice that still holds up 46 years later. “Hospitality, a synonym for the South, comes from the heart,” she writes in the first chapter. “Even the most discerning disciple of etiquette may fall short as a hostess if she fails to bestow this gift upon her guests.”

In October of this year “The Southern Living Cookbook: A Modern Guide to Gathering,” written by Elizabeth Heiskell, a delightful hostess originally from the Mississippi Delta, became the new guide to entertaining. Elizabeth, whom I met years ago at a conference on the Mississippi Delta held at the University of Memphis, has some advice that Marks would probably echo. “If you don’t remember anything else from this book, remember this. Friends who come to your home for a party are not there to pass judgment. They are there to enjoy a strong cocktail or a big glass of wine and a nibble. They are your friends and are grateful just to be invited.”

Yet, even the best can get overwhelmed hosting the perfect party, forgetting their own sage advice, including Oxford, Mississippi’s go-to caterer for every celebratory scenario life serves up.

Like its bestselling predecessor, this modern-day sequel is a gracious guide full of entertaining tips, party inspiration, and mouthwatering recipes to help you—and a whole new generation—entertain like a pro. I know I’ll turn to this book every time I’m feeling stuck or stressed out when party planning.
— Elizabeth Heiskell

In her latest book—“The Southern Living Party Cookbook: A Modern Guide to Gathering,” Heiskell, a bestselling author, puts her one-of-a-kind touch on updating the top selling Southern Living cookbook of all time, 1972’s “Southern Living Party Cookbook.”

Divided by occasion, this modern-day re-interpretation of the “Southern Living” classic offers a fresh lineup of party ideas, including Bridal Tea, Garden Club luncheon, Summer Nights, Cocktails and Canapes, Tailgate, Picnic on the Lawn, Fall Dinner, and 24 more gatherings you’ll want to host.

With delicious dishes from the original book, popular picks from the current pages of “Southern Living” magazine, and sure-to-become classics from Elizabeth’s own treasured recipe box, “The Southern Living Party Cookbook” has menus for any occasion, whether it took weeks to plan or came together at the last minute. You’ll enjoy appetizers, mains, drinks and desserts.

Cheers to a happy and relaxing holiday season!

There are certain rules every party planning connoisseur should know:

  1. Your guests are your friends, not your enemies. They’re just grateful to be included.

  2. The more relaxed you are, the more fun your guests will have.

  3. The people make the party—not the food, flowers, or quality of your bathroom guest towels.


Elizabeth Heiskill was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, where she developed a passion for combining her love of food and the history of the rich agricultural area where she was raised. Under the brand name the Debutante Farmer, she sells homegrown gourmet pickles, jellies, jams, salsas, and her popular Bloody Mary mix. She started her food journey with courses at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. As Lead Culinary Instructor at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, Mississippi, world headquarters of the Viking Range Corporation, she has represented Viking on exclusive SilverSea cruises in Europe and the Pacific. In 2011 Elizabeth moved from the flatland to the hills of Oxford, Mississippi. There, she and her husband, Luke, run Woodson Ridge Farm with a little help from their three daughters. She is the bestseller of “What Can I Bring?” (Oxmoor House, 2017). Elizabeth is a TODAY show food contributor, and she has also appeared on Food Network’s The Kitchen, Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, Pickler & Ben, FOX & Friends, and Chopped. Find her on Instagram (@eliabethheiskellofficial).

Don’t miss Elizabeth Heiskell’s presentation at the February, 2019 Antiques and Garden Show in Nashville!

What to Know

29th Annual Antiques and Garden Show
February 1-3, 2019
Music City Center, 201 5th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203

Elizabeth’s Lecture: Saturday, February 2, 2019
2-3 p.m.: Entertaining + Floral Lecture:
Farm-to-Table Florals & Flavors
Garden District and Elizabeth Heiskell in Davidson Ballroom
3-4 p.m.: Book Signing in Davidson Ballroom Lobby