Recently, Andy Warhol’s 1988 “Party Book” landed on my desk and I could not tear myself away. Partly because the how-to-entertain interviews are hysterical: John Waters, discussing plans for throwing his 40th-birthday party at a nursing home in Baltimore, notes that the element of perceived danger is a party bonus. But mostly the book is irresistible because the party throwers and goers are all game for one thing: A sexy good time.

For a fête to be successful, it’s not enough to merely have status-confirming conversations; pheromones must be flying as well. In the event that pithy chat and nuanced flirtation falter, you’d better at least have a story-starting centerpiece on the table.

Actualizing a holiday party takes prodigious effort (if you are not in the mood to roll up your sleeves, I suggest you put on your best dress and kick up your heels at someone else’s house). The A-game approach is to channel a legendary party thrower like Truman Capote and conspire to make the evening beautiful, bewitching and memorable. That’s not to say you have to be Malcolm Forbes-style extravagant, either. Jeffrey Archer, the best-selling British author, member of parliament and jailbird, was renowned for throwing “at homes” featuring Krug and shepherd’s pie—a flawless combination of high-low. The coveted invitation instructed “regrets only” because everyone usually showed up.