Working in this industry—and as a frequent wedding guest—I'm always on the lookout for thoughtful gift ideas. That's why I was thrilled to discover Draper James, Reese Witherspoon's shop in Nashville. Named for her grandparents (Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon), it's a charming southern home-and-clothing boutique. On a recent visit, I got a peek at the new Wedding Collection, full of gifts that you can easily make personal with a handwritten note or even a toast for the newlyweds. I also asked if Reese, who's the ultimate host and gift-giver, would share some tips. Whether throwing a shower or attending a wedding, she knows just what to do, what to wear, and what to bring. Here's some of her advice.
What was the best party you ever threw, and what made it great?
"Well, I throw a lot of parties, and a lot are in the backyard with barbecue or a tray of enchiladas. But my favorite ever was my 40th birthday—it was New Orleans-themed, with mint-julep cups and a second-line band. I got to share my southern upbringing with all my favorite people."
How about the most memorable bridal shower you ever attended?
"It was at a barn in Bolinas, California. We watched the sun go down, drinking Napa Valley rosé. We sat at long farm tables with fresh farm-to-table food."
Favorite shower theme?
"I love a garden theme. Hosting outside takes the pressure off having your house look perfect—you can let Mother Nature do all the work!"
How about a go-to cocktail?
"I learned to make southern sweet tea from my grandmother—she always served it when anyone dropped by. I've added my own twist to her recipe: I mix it with vodka for an easy cocktail, or add rum to make an iced-tea mojito."
If you had to pick one detail for a successful party, what would it be?
"Great drinks and good music are all you need. Even if the food is bad! If the music is good and the drinks are flowing, everyone is happy."
Tell me about the Wedding Collection and why you love it.
"These gifts are perfect for engagement parties and bridal showers. There's a lot to celebrate when it comes to weddings, so we created gifts to honor all the special moments and people involved. "