Some people put some Boursin and water crackers on a plate, open a bottle of wine and call it a party. But for men and women who care about style and food, such an approach is unthinkable. They understand that while the party gods are arbitrary and capricious, intelligent planning can make the difference between a smash and a dud. They've developed a list of essentials--from reliable corkscrews to outrageous centerpieces--that never, ever let them down. Here, 50 experts spill their secrets and name one item they've come to rely on.
1 fine art
MARY BOONE art dealer
"What you look at while you eat is terribly important. I have paintings by Brice Marden and Ross Bleckner in my dining room. But I keep no art in the kitchen, only food."
2 an icemaker
JULIA CHILD american icon
"I have a separate icemaker, a U-Line, because sometimes ice from the freezer picks up other flavors and can taste like onions." ($600 to $1,000; 414-354-0300)