All posts tagged dinner party

Halloween Decor

Party Like a Rock Star in your very own home! Halloween on a Budget? No problem! I love this Halloween special I did last year and wanted to take it out of the archives for you today! My favorite tip? The boiling Cauldron!

The above display can be made on a young, broke and fabulous budget and makes your apartment or home come alive from the dead for Halloween. I love using candy corn in the fall to make festive displays! Stick some candy corn in apothecary jars throughout your home for a classic feel that is not too overwhelming and cheap. When decorating you want to create continuity throughout your home. You can achieve this easy-peasy by repeating elements from the main display in other areas!

For instance, simply placing an apothecary jar filled with candy corn on your coffee table, will hark back to the main display and create a unified look. This is also a great way to cut down on the spending. No need to create a whole other coffee table display!

Learn how to make a Halloween display on a budget in my


The Bar is the hot spot at any Halloween party and is perfect for a main attraction! Make some boiling punch that will get guests mingling and fired up! This can double as Halloween decor and beverages! Take a block of dry ice and place it in the center of a strong punch. Add hot water to make optimum mist and dilute the cocktail! Wait until the ice is completely melted and serve! People will swear it’s magic!

Also, have cute shot glasses that add to the Halloween decor and can be used by guests if the devil forces them! Neon Skull candles are a great way to glam up the bar and soooo kitschy! Gotta love the glitter spiders.

Dinner party? All you need are cute plates and mini pumpkins that can be carved with people’s initials for “name cards.” Try serving roasted garlic to keep vampires away!

Homemade Pizza

Contributing Chef- Abby Reibman-Author of  The Desk and The Stove

Whether you’re just having a casual night in with friends or planning a sophisticated soiree, this homemade pizza is sure to impress.  Making your own dough is super easy (just do it the night before your big event), and, if you prepare your toppings ahead of time, you’ll be able to mingle and drink more wine with your guests – bonus.  It’s always more fun to be creative with your toppings, but if you’re having writer’s block, The Hostess Handbook suggets: Classic Margherita; Mushroom; Ricotta, Spinach and Cherry Tomato; and, my new fave – Bolognese and spinach. AMAZING.


Homemade Pizza Dough 

12 g active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tsp sugar
5 ¼ cups All Purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
Olive oil


Topping Suggestions:

Tomato Sauce
Bolognese Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella
Basil, chiffonade
Mushrooms, seared in butter
Cherry Tomatoes


1-    Blend together the yeast, sugar, flour and sea salt in a medium bowl.  Add in the warm water in a steady drizzle and mix thoroughly with your hands. 

2-    Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until you have a large ball.

3-    Put the ball of dough in a clean, large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over the dough and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside to proof for at least 18 hours in total – or until it has more than doubled. After a few hours, punch down the dough and let proof again.

4-    Unwrap the dough and divide into four equal portions.  For each portion: pull the right side of the dough out and back towards the center (repeat for the three other sides) and shape into a round seam side down. If not using straight away, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a maximum of 3 days. Return to room temperature by covering dough with a damp cloth for a few hours prior to use.

5-    On a floured surface, stretch out each portion of dough into a thin 9 inch round – be careful not to stretch it too thin or it will break. Spread tomato sauce over the dough base, add mozzarella cheese, basil and any other additional toppings (or, try using someBolognese sauce for a unique twist).

6-    Transfer the assembled pizza onto a pizza stone and cook in a 450 F oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden and crispy. Enjoy with a Peroni or glass of Chianti.



Hostess Gift: Flavored Chocolate Coffee Spoons

The holidays are coming and this means you have to stock up on some hostess gifts! These flavored chocolate coffee spoons are too cute and yummazing! They will be a big hit at a dinner party as guests can use your gift in their after dinner coffee!

Hostess Tip: This box will run you $20 but you can cut down by splitting the contents. They are individually wrapped so all you need to do is get a ribbon and tie a couple together into a new package! Don’t forget you have a budget! Perfect for the penny pinching princess!




Party Like a Rock Star: Aviary

Rock Star Contributor: Talia Kayne


Let your mind take flight at master chef Grant Achatz’s latest creation, Aviary.   Think you saw the last of beakers and Bunsen burners in high school chemistry? Think again! Molecular gastronomy is the name of the game at this intimate lounge, and no one does it better than Achatz.

Located in Chicago’s up and coming Westloop meat-packing district, Aviary is the perfect setting for an elegant, intimate dinner party. Conversation won’t skip a beat with Achatz’s awe inspiring and mind bending mixology creations. The  cocktails may be expensive, but they are worth every penny!  Drinking a cocktail at Aviary becomes an interactive experience, always involving multiple senses.  As every good hostess knows, details are what makes your guests leave happy … and the details are what set aviary apart from the rest; from aromatic herbs to enhance your drinking pleasure, to flavor infused ice cubes that gradually melt in your cocktail so that the flavor “evolves” over the course of the drink.  You can’t help but take pictures of every cocktail that comes your way!

Of course, don’t forget about the “bites”.  With each course served on a two inch leaflet plate, its impossible to ignore the precision and meticulousness in which each bite is created. While they are tiny, they are bursting with flavor!  Your three course meal may have only been 3 bites – but you and your guests will definitely be leaving Aviary quite satisfied (and substantially buzzed).

A little Hostess Handbook secret…Aviary has a downstairs old school, speakeasy-style basement  called “The Office”. If you can score an invitation from the waiters to go downstairs, it’s worth the hype and exclusivity. The menu is a bit pricier, but the experience is PRICELESS.

Tasty Tip: Roasted Garlic

This Halloween, keep the vampires away by serving roasted garlic! This dish is simple and inexpensive to make for all you dinner party divas on a budget! Place the whole clove on top of some radicchio to add color to the dish. You can also spice up the presentation by putting candy corn flowers around the serving plate as garnish.


1 Head of Garlic

1 teaspoon of olive oil



Peel the head of garlic so that only a thin layer of the skin remains around the cloves. Cut the head of the garlic about 1/4 inch so that the top of each clove is exposed. Pour the olive oil over the top, coating the garlic as much as possible! Wrap it in tin foil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the garlic is soft to the touch! Let cool and serve with crackers!





Hostess “How To” Series: Herb Arrangement

Herbs are not just for cookin’! They are also good lookin’ and can be used to make an herb arrangement. Flowers can get old, so let’s take it to the next level! You can either use only herbs or add in a couple flowers for some more color, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the herbs are what makes this arrangement unique. Highlight them! This is perfect for a dinner party and will smell just about as good to eat!

Hostess Tip: Dinner party on a budget means use the fresh herbs for cooking and for the arrangement!