A lifestylist’s recommendations for great in-home parties.
At my last dinner party, guests declared that going to a friend’s house for dinner is their favorite way to spend a Saturday night. So why aren’t more of us hosting in-home soirées? Answer: too much work. Colleen Mullaney, a Larchmont lifestyle expert and author of It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere and Fairy Parties, among others, to the rescue. Here, her secret sources and insider tips for home entertaining.
■ Food—You don’t have to make the entire meal yourself. Cook a few dishes and then supplement with prepared food.
Sources: Stock frozen mini quiches from The Rye Country Store (Rye, 914-967-3450) and great cheeses from Auray Gourmet (Larchmont, 914-833-2274). For dinner parties: try the couscous salad and “to-die-for” Champagne vinaigrette from Standing Room Only (Scarsdale, 914-472-3002), Corner Stone Caterers’ garden grilled salmon and golden jewel salad (Rye, 914-967-0035), the aged provolone loaf from The Kneaded Bread (Port Chester, 914-937-9489), and fantastic bite-sized desserts (e.g., the lemon-raspberry bars) from William Nicholas (Katonah, 914-232-1949). And for that show-stopping finale, Carmen’s Cakes and Sweet Surprises (Pelham, 914-582-7405). Also, Blue Hill Café’s garden-fresh rhubarb preserves and raspberry cobbler are great “weekend brunch staples” (Pocantico Hills, 914-366-9600; bluehillfarm.com). And Dobbs & Bishop Fine Cheese sells the “most divine scones and croissants delivered daily from Balthazar” (Bronxville, 914-361-1770).
■ Drinks—Always have a signature cocktail to welcome guests, Mullaney advises. Her favorite for spring? The raspberry gimlet! (Visit colleenmullaney.com for the recipe.)
Sources: Westchester Wine Warehouse has an extensive selection of wines and liquors and offers deals via e-blasts (White Plains, 914-824-1400; westchesterwine.com). Wine at Five’s Wine-of-the-Month Club comes with a witty newsletter and
delicious recipes for an instant dinner party (Rye, 914-921-5950; wineatfive.com). Zachys offers excellent advice and online shopping (Scarsdale, 866-922-4971; zachys.com).
■ Décor Sources––Buy scrapbooking paper at A.I. Friedman to use as placemats: the specialty shapes (think hearts for a romantic dinner) and edges (scalloped for a spring fling) make for inexpensive yet stylish touches (Port Chester, 914-937-7351; aifriedman.com). Make an eco-friendly and aromatic napkin ring by tying napkins with a ribbon attached to a sprig of herbs (try rosemary) from Nabel’s Nursery (White Plains, 914-949-3963; nabelsnursery.com). For flowers, Trader Joe’s has “the freshest roses in a rainbow of colors at the best prices” (Hartsdale, Larchmont, Scarsdale; traderjoes.com). No time to DIY? Mullaney swears by Stems for unique floral arrangements (Rye, 914-925-2588; stemsny.com).
■ Hostess Gifts––WISH has an “extraordinary selection.” Mullaney loves to give as gifts the monogrammed slate cheese board paired with a cheese knife, gourmet crackers, and cocktail napkins. “People just love them, and you’ll be sure to be invited back!” (Rye; 914-967-2910; welcometowish.com.)