Party Basics, Style Recipes and
Favorite Sources for Special Occasions

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July 15, 2008: Maria Reviews the Fancy Food Show

June 24, 2008: Outdoor Celebrating

June 13, 2008: Maria Reviews the NY Stationery Show

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Party Pantry Basics

Stock your pantry with practical basics. To make it easier to throw a party any time I count on these five core elements.

1. Oversized white dinner plates that are easy to dress up, also look casually elegant on my lap. I keep an eye out for sales to collect enough dinnerware to feed a crowd. When working with an all-white palette, its easy to mix and match fearlessly.

2. I regularly pick up a batch of thirsty, colorful cotton kitchen towels to use as generous napkins, when they are no longer fresh I use them as kitchen towels!

3. Table linens should be easy to launder fabrics. I often buy remnants by the yard and use pinking shears to cut a custom cloth for my table.

4. I buy votives and tea lights by the bag and toss them in odd and end glassware to make spontaneous hurricanes. Be sure to stock several long necked butane lighters to make candle lighting easy.

5. Stemless wine glasses are my favorite right now, they are spill proof, well priced and stack sooo easily in my cupboard.

Beach Balls

Stay cool with the refreshing drink I created for Summer in the City, an evening of tastes and cocktails to benefit City Harvest, the incredible organization that redistributes food from events and restaurants to the needy.

1 oz Pama Pomegranate Liqueur (
1 oz Funkin ( Passion Fruit puree
1 oz. vodka
1 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz club soda

Mix and serve in a tall glass over ice with a colorful straw or long stemmed lollipop as a stirrer.

My Favorite Online Party Suppliers

When the days are long and the nights are warm its time to celebrate out of doors. Lounging with friends is the seasonal sport I enjoy most. With the proliferation of on-line party suppliers, adding great style to your next party takes just a click. Here some of my favorite finds. Garnish chilled soups, toss sexier salads, freeze charming ice cubes using micro blossoms and herbs. Of course you can grow your own or establish an account with this organic family farm that is a favorite resource of picky chefs and fastidious food stylists. Ready-to-wear ice is the latest offering from the ice studio known for its frozen fashion statements. Cubes and cylinders to dress up raw bars also makes great white wine or soup chillers. Dry ice makes shipping anywhere overnight doable. Chill your drinks with giant jawbreaker-sized ice balls which melt slowly and make cosmos truly cool. Order a box for your next party and they'll arrive overnight. Looking for a treasure trove of party supplies? This is the spot. Plus they distribute the entire line of vibrant, sturdy, fashionable French Bull melamine tableware. The positive/negative floral prints in orange and white or black and white will look smart even after a season of dishwashering. Stock up on paper cocktail napkins with your monogram, a summer address, or even a favorite print. With about 50 napkin colors to select from and a very easy ordering system you can flash bespoke style when you serve your next mojito. Professional suppliers are always a marvelous resource for great serving accessories. Panibois baking baskets, made from lightweight poplar wood, are manufactured to be oven safe for bakers but I think they make appealing lunch trays. Create the warm glow of ambient light without wax or electricity, LED battery lights feature an on/off switch and a 10-inch flexible cord for versatile hanging. Each order includes replacement batteries to illuminates paper lanterns or containers from birdhouses to colorful glass orbs and resin vases. Create a sandy centerpiece, host your own sand sculpture competition with beach tools and directions found on this site or do as I did and hire the artist to make a custom creation to impress even the most jaded guest. For a beachy wedding I designed, Matt Long created a cobblestone aisle with a monogram sculpted out of sand and a table-top lighthouse for the bar. A final spritz with watery glue is the secret ingredient for making these sandy art sculptures last. The go-to rental source for all the fabulous Hamptons events is encouraging every one to go-green. Bamboo plates and utensils are shippable anywhere for affordable, sustainable style. This LED candy store, has the best prices on a wide range of battery lights to add professional quality lighting to any celebration. My favorite, e-spotlyte, comes loaded with batteries and with a flick of a small switch, these cordless spotlights illuminate d├ęcor and architectural elements. Line up along an outside wall or between trellis beams to throw dramatic light patterns where you can enjoy them most. Want a luxe lounge? Recycled plastics with a rubberized finish are molded into club chairs and period reproductions of classic armchairs and loveseats . Pricy but so fabulous, the series , available in a rainbow of vibrant colors or simply sleek black or white, resists all weather conditions. Need booze? Wines from every region around the world, spirits, absinthe, even kosher wines can come right to your door with free shipping for orders over $99. Make shade with square canvas awnings with bamboo legs, available to rent or purchase. I like to line three or five in a row to create a canvas loggia, perfect to cover a long feasting table when you want to serve guests family style. Thousands of years old and still stylish, the Raj tent makes a dramatic focal point to any celebration. Block-printed cabanas and tents create elegant out door lounges, if they're too much of a splurge, opt instead for the swell garden umbrellas, as seen in my book, Party Basics for New Nesters. Spruce up your tired old garden furniture with a new set of cushions, available in dozens of prints, with or without welting in sizes and styles to fit any chair.