How to Throw a Lip Sync Party

IMG_7646I had been asking my sister, “what do you want to do for your 30th birthday?” for months (years really) when she finally answered my pressing question a little more than a month before her 30th birthday. “I want to host a lip sync battle 30th birthday party,” she said. Never one to shy away from any crazy party idea, I was immediately on board, the logistics already running through my head. We’d have to get someone to play DJ, everyone coming would have to practice their songs, and we’d have to be 150 percent into the idea in order to convince all those weary of lip syncing in front of a crowd to participate. We’d need ample amounts of booze, a venue that had some sort of stage, delectable hearty snacks that would ensure guests didn’t get too wasted before their performances, and an invite that got everyone excited about the opportunity to lip sync. Continue reading

Snapshots From a Recent Dinner Party

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Lately I’ve been day dreaming about living in a house. Not just any old house, but a lovely three bedroom house all for myself! It would be the ideal house for entertaining. One bedroom (with a glorious walk-in closet) would be for myself, another room would serve as a creative studio where I would have a large comfortable desk and lots of organized crafting supplies, and the final room would be a guest bedroom for me to host my friends and family. Of course, there would also be a dining room with a table big enough to seat twelve adults, a garden with plenty of cutting flowers and a Meyer lemon tree, a pool with several lounges for tanning in the sun, and a big kitchen with an island, tons of cabinets, granite countertops, and bar stools. Continue reading

Daniel Cappello’s Dinner Diaries Questionnaire

IMG_7283 One of my dearest friends, the amazing Julia Walsh, gifted me a wonderful surprise for Valentine’s Day. It’s a beautiful book: Dinner Diaries Reviving the Art of the Hostess Book by Daniel Cappello. The book is filled with tips and inspiration from haute hostesses in the fashion world like Patricia Herrera Lansing and Cynthia Rowley. I love it because it’s encouraging the modern dinner party thrower to keep a diary of all her parties. I’ve kept a hostess diary for as long as I can remember — mine dates back to Thanksgiving Dinner 2006. The Dinner Diaries has several sections. The first features Cappello’s outlook and experience of the dinner party and the second part has helpful hints and a fun questionnaire filled out by the aforementioned fashion and art people. The final portion is the diary part that I get to fill with guest lists, menus, seating charts, and little notes like the wines poured and the flowers used in the table arrangements. There’s also pages and pages of blank questionnaires for me and my company to fill out. Since it’s such a fun survey, I thought I would share the questions and my answers here. What is the perfect number of guests? 10. Chic dinner in the kitchen or formal in the dining room? It depends on the occasion.  Continue reading

Six Delicious and Doable Thanksgiving Menus

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Late last week, when I was writing my tips for a budget-friendly Thanksgiving for Domaine Home, I realized that this year is my 10th anniversary of hosting Thanksgiving dinner! I’ve never followed that rule that many entertaining experts always quote – the one where you should not make something new at a dinner party – because one of the first major dinners I did all by myself was Thanksgiving in 2004. In Spain. I was 23 and had never made turkey or gravy or pumpkin pie, but I was determined to introduce my Spanish friends to my favorite American holiday. I also had to source a turkey in a country that doesn’t traditionally consume them – luckily, I had already developed a great relationship with Diego, the local butcher who thought my request for a turkey was hysterical. My apartment’s oven only heated on the bottom or on the top broiler, so I had to cook the bird in a friend’s oven. All of these things and more made this Thanksgiving, my first, one of the most memorable meals of my life. I can still remember what I wore!

I’ve gone on to host many more successful Thanksgivings and dealt with plenty of bumps (burnt cranberry, gravy that doesn’t thicken, just made homemade stock strained into the sink, to name a few) along the way. One thing that remains consistent is the inconsistency of my menu: I change it up every year! Before I start to plan the current year’s menu, I look back over what I have served in years past. Since I’m figuring out this year’s menu this week, I’m sharing my last six years of menus and the recipes I used with you. All of these are the actual dishes I made and served, so they are completely doable menus. Happy Thanksgiving planning!

-3Thanksgiving Menu 2013
Fall Classic Cocktail
Smoked trout spread, warm brie, and artisinal crackers
Pomegranate gremolata, spicy greens, and pear salad

Perfect roast turkey
Classic gravy

Barely risotto
My Dad’s old-fashioned Stove Top stuffing
Sweet potatoes with blue cheese
Brandied cranberries

Deep dish caramel apple pie
Vanilla ice cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

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