How She Hosts: Azanique Rawl

"How She Hosts": a Q&A series with women who inspire us

Azanique is a professional multi-hat wearer and Southern Tastemaker who absolutely adores all things hosting, home decor, wine and books. Her 9-5ish is spent working in social impact through a combination of running #LotsofBooksClub, a virtual book club dedicated to amplifying Black authors; sitting on local boards; and exploring her new city of Charlotte, NC.

In 2017, Azanique started, a lifestyle blog dedicated to all things style, home, books and fun. She is most herself when styling bright colors, wearing statement earrings, drinking a glass of red wine and being curled up on the front porch with friends and her dog, Max.

How do you like to entertain? What is the vibe (where, feeling, how)?
I am such a casual entertainer. I find that many people simply want an excuse to get out of their comfort zone and gather with others. And by creating a more casual environment, I invite people to show up as they are and worry less about being”right”. I will rarely formally host with the exception of holidays or a very special occasion. Honestly, my favorite type of hosting is last-minute, impromptu inviting friends over for porch cocktails. Growing up in the suburbs, I used to love seeing my mom and friends see each other across the cul-de-sac and randomly decide to sip on cocktails outside or grill in the backyard. I get so excited to figure out how I can host friends in a pinch and it’s also so fun to add a surprise get together to a weeknight or weekend morning.

In my home, I love hosting friends on the porch because honestly, what else are large southern porches for? For dinner, I tend to host in the dining room or down in the front yard, when the weather permits. Oftentimes I’ll set up several areas in the living room, dining room and outside that can accommodate guests in case we decide to move around or small groups or 2-3 want to break away.

What are you serving? I am notorious for saying “I could burn cereal” because I am seriously the worst cook. However, my go-to snack when hosting is a huge charcuterie board of not just meats and cheeses but also fruits, nuts, dips and sometimes, a little surprise like sliders or chicken tenders from Trader Joes. I pride myself on never letting my guests get thirsty so I have a number of satellite bars set up around the house with options to make your own cocktail, pop open a can of cider and/or stay hydrated with fruit infused water.

What are you sipping? 9 times out of 10, I am sipping a red blend. My go-to is Apothic or 19 Crimes when I am getting ready to entertain, then I switch to champagne or prosecco when friends arrive.

What are you wearing? Even though it’s not technically a uniform, I do have a formula of easy dressing which includes a colorful maxi dress with a cinched waist, a matching headboard, statement earrings probably from @thetinytassel, and espadrilles. This has been my go-to for so long and when I’m hosting, I like to be equally comfortable and stylish as I am moving around a lot and probably taking lots of pictures.

What are you listening to? I love one of the R&B jazz or dinner jazz playlists on Spotify.

How do you make your guests feel special? How do you make them feel at home?
I love this question so much! I try my best to know my guest enough to include something that they would love when in my home. Sometimes that means buying a friend's favorite flowers to have on display or only drinking their favorite champagne or playing their favorite artists as people arrive. I try to keep the “notes” section of my friends' contacts up-to-date with likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. so I always know how to surprise them or include them in a gathering.

If you are hosting a dinner, what is your go-to centerpiece?
I always love flowers as a centerpiece. When dining outside, I tend to deck the table out in a mix of pillar, stick and votive candles to really set the tone.

How do you end a celebration?
Always with dessert! No matter how small, I love having ice cream, brownies, mini bundt cakes or something similar so we can end on a sweet note.

What is your favorite Half Past Seven product to entertain with?

I absolutely adore the rustic wine decanter! I have used it for both wine and water and it’s the perfect piece to sit on a beautiful table but still be functional so guests never go thirsty, no matter their preference.

Let’s play this or that…

  • Charger OR Placemat: placemat
  • Stemmed OR Stem-less: stemmed
  • Red OR White: always red
  • Tablecloth OR Bare: tablecloth
  • Votives OR Taper Candle: taper candle
  • Formal OR Informal: informal is my jam!

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