If not picture perfect, certainly more stylish than usual
I’m in awe of women with hot glue guns. I have friends who can take bit of string and straw and make a fantastic centerpiece, but when I try, guests wonder why I’ve piled my recyclables on the table.
But Annette Joseph limits the intimidation, keeping the focus on making a party atmosphere, not a stage set. The little bit of extra that tells your friends and family they are special and this is a special event.
Like most party books, Joseph hits the seasonal and holiday themes—spring garden, Cinco de Mayo, Thanksgiving, game day. But sometimes you just need a party and can make up your own reason. Joseph sparks ideas with a Palio Celebration , a Retro Riviera party, and the one I’m already envisioning in my dining room—The White Party.
Joseph starts the book with the very sensible advice to set up a party pantry. At my house it’s a couple of repurposed wine crates that hold IKEA-cheap plates and wineglasses—the ones that I almost like to see broken by ebullient guests. I’ve also rolled up a printed cotton shawl from a shalwar kameez that doubles as an exotic table runner. Tucked in the box are a bright blue and orange Greek ouzo pitchers that I use as vases, napkin holders, and oh yeah, ouzo pitchers.
Joseph’s list is a little more extensive than I have room or need for, but it’s the fundamental mix of basics and exotics that makes it easy to pull a party together. She includes chalkboards, cake stands, garden pots, and ceramic tiles, everything a budding stylist or polished host needs.
As for the menus, Joseph hits the balance that will please hosts by not being too complicated and please guests by being a little bit special. I mixed menus and made Joseph’s White Bean Chili from the Comfort Food Get-Together, Chopped Italian Salad from the Retro Riviera party, and back to comfort food for Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies, which were greeted with a nice smile of surprise.
The food was easy, tasty, and worked for everyone. Joseph sets up her menus so that some items can be purchased, like the charcuterie platter for a Wine Harvest Party. Other items, like Lavender Ice Cream for a Memorial Day Cookout, you’ll have to make, and others, like the White Bean Chili, can sit on the stove until their moment comes. It’s a sensible approach that leaves time to both prep and enjoy–the secret of a good party for guests and hosts.