Known as “Charles the Butler” from decades of working with royalty and other elites, Charles MacPherson, the witty and engaging author of The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping, is uniquely qualified to give pointers—practical pointers, never stuffy—to the rest of us on bettering our personal and professional lives. Whether we rent or own, entertain often or hardly ever, we want our homes to be efficient, our guests to feel welcome and those with whom we interact to feel considered.

Here’s a sampling of his style and etiquette how-tos: saying thank you, folding a shirt, setting a table, presenting a business card, making polite conversation, pouring wine, sewing a button and making an introduction.

The book also presents a fascinating history of domestic service, as well as a peek inside the world of Charles the Butler himself. For “Downton Abbey” fans still mourning the season finale, The Butler Speaks will provide a welcome and edifying diversion.

Anyone can create gorgeous papercut projects with Cut Up This Book! Special Occasions: Step-by-Step Instruction for Festive Decorations, Invitations, & More by Emily Hogarth. Beginners will become familiar with the basic materials, tools and techniques in the introduction, while more advanced crafters can cut right to the gallery of paper projects designed for a wide range of celebrations and holidays. Projects include cards, garlands, gift tags, drink tags, toppers and wrappers for cakes, place cards, napkin holders and tiny flags to identify ingredients (and potential allergens). Each is accompanied by detailed, step-by-step instructions—with photographs—and 60 templates and a stock of lovely papers are included.

Daunted by intricate patterns? Start with easy projects like tissue paper pom-poms or hanging paper rosettes. Whichever project you tackle first, the artist provides plenty of variations and inspirations to keep things fun and personalized.

How I envy folks for whom a dinner party or even a casual get-together is a regular and stress-free situation—like Susan Spungen, who is so adept at such things that she’s a “culinary consultant and food stylist” for such movies as Eat, Pray, Love and Julie & Julia. Her new book, What’s a Hostess to Do? 313 Ideas and Inspirations for Effortless Entertaining, offers hundreds of tips to make any occasion fabulous and enjoyable.

The book’s eight sections take party planners—veterans and first-timers alike—from the brainstorming stage (what kind of party, whom to invite, how much to spend) all the way to when the party’s over (what to do with the leftovers). This “all-purpose handbook” really does cover all, no matter the size or purpose of an event, and even includes 121 party food recipes. The extraordinary volume of detail is balanced by bottom-line essentials so readers don’t feel overwhelmed, and the author always keeps a practiced eye out for ways to save money, time and sanity. My favorite list: “Ten Jobs You Can Delegate.”

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