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Weekend Entertaining

Avoiding Those Verbal Brawls at Parties

December 12, 1987|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

Question: Every now and then we have the privilege of entertaining dear friends who are in the same profession. The problem is they are so caught up in their work and often differ about certain phases of it, and our lively evening invariably ends up in a verbal brawl. What can I, as the host, do to stop the conversation from reaching boiling point tactfully?

--HARRY

Answer: Here's how a few successful hosts apply emergency tactics, as well as some tips for avoiding a complete party breakdown.

Mr. Blackwell, critic, actor, author, fashion commentator:

"I always go to another phone in the house and call the person who is creating the commotion. I tell them to please wait, and after a while hang up. By the time the person returns to the party, guests have gone on to another topic.

Charlotte Maillard, professional hostess, chief of protocol for the City of San Francisco:

"Knowing who you're seating together helps avoid problems. Besides, if you tell people how nice they are, you won't have any problems."

Mrs. Vincente Minnelli:

"Whatever you do, don't put someone else's husband or wife with an ex. That's the kiss of death. But if a verbal breakdown does occur, change the subject quickly. I try to bring some international news that will take their minds off the touchy topic."

Nancy (Mrs. Thomas) Vreeland, designer-manufacturer:

"That sort of thing never happens to my parties, because I never put people from the same field together. That's asking for trouble. People tend to become more outspoken in a social situation, especially after a few drinks.

I try to bring together a blend of people of various backgrounds, ages and interests. I also make it my business to get them to know one another. If, however, a situation is about to explode, I immediately move people to other tables, or if we're dancing, I get up and ask the offending party to dance with me."

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