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I picked up this book because I'm not a natural hostess and can use all the help I can get... Truthfully, the idea of throwing a dinner party fills me with dread. It's easy to get caught up in my worry of being judged. (Is our house too small? Are the decorations too plain? Is the food too basic? What if I run out of things to say? What if people don't have a good time? etc., etc...)
Of course it's always easier to close yourself off and never take social risks. But I'm actually really proud of myself, because so far I've been meeting my goal to have at least one neighborhood family over to our house every month. We've had three families over so far this year, and each get together has gone really well! I've found that most people get a couple drinks in them and have a jolly ol' time no matter what. It's helped me understand that people aren't hellbent on judging others. In fact, everyone seems eager to look for the positive. I think we all just want to have a good time, you know?
Anyway, this book definitely has some good advice when it comes to throwing parties. There are eight sections covering different types of gatherings, from a formal cocktail hour to a backyard picnic. I really like the sections on Setting the Scene (how to prepare your house for a party) and The Cocktail Hour (suggestions for making tasty cocktails, as well as how much alcohol to stock). Each section has lots of recipes, too, and even though I haven't tried any of them (and probably won't), it helps to see sample menus for each occasion.
The tone of the book is more formal and uptight than casual, which means it's a little too intense for my liking. But I still appreciate reading about proper etiquette and helpful tips for throwing a successful party. I know I have a long way to go when it comes to truly impressing guests, but it's still comforting to know that a clean house, pretty flowers, a signature dish, and a delicious cocktail are pretty much all it takes for people to get a good vibe from your shindig. And you only get better at it the more parties you host, so I guess we'll just have to keep having people over.
I was expecting more tips on how to plan a great event, but this is mostly a cookbook. Her advice to do many things ahead of time so you can have a more relaxed time with your guests is great, but I would still be in the kitchen more than I would like if I followed her menus.
This is a wonderful book for either experienced hostesses or hostesses who just want to have fun with entertaining. I have been entertaining for a long time but have found this book to be full of things I never thought about (that were extremely handy) or things I discovered over the years. It has "inside" advice and tips, recipes, and all kind of things you never would have thought to ask about but are so glad they included.
This is among the BEST books written on hosting for the novice and expert hostess....or host. I bought the Kindle version and will be purchasing the hard copyas well. The book sets out everything that one needs to do prior to, during and post hosting....menu included. This is a gem.