'Tis the season for parties big and small, and I'm always looking for new ideas for hosting a festive and fun gathering without killing myself in the kitchen or agonizing over the table settings. There are some helpful--and beautiful--new books out this year for entertaining with style, whether you're having a casual potluck or want to step it up with a fancy cocktail party. Below are a few of my favorites, from Questlove's inventive collection of song and recipe pairings to Alex Hitz's Southern style--if you want to host a great party, these authors have you covered.
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Alex Hitz is an A-list host, pairing elegance and comfort food to create wonderfully special events. Hitz also offers tips for being the guest everyone wants to invite back, and his Southern charm is infectious. Twelve complete menus offer a range for holiday parties and beyond, and his Always and Never lists are worth flagging for easy reference. Simple and sophisticated is never out of style.
Mixtape Potluck Cookbook by Questlove
Questlove's latest cookbook is as creative as the artist himself. His concept is to imagine the ultimate dinner party, and he invited 50 friends from across the entertainment industry--from chef Eric Ripert to actor Natalie Portman--to bring a recipe. Questlove then pairs each of these dishes with a song. Really fun and original, Mixtape Potluck is not just useful, it's also entertainment for the reader.
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Entertaining at Home: Inspirations from Celebrated Hosts by Ronda Carman, Matthew Mead, et al.
A unique collaboration that brings together trendsetters across the country to share their style and strategies for hosting top notch events. Each chapter highlights a different party and host, covering everything from flower arrangements to choosing and seating guests. So many great ideas, and I love that there are all different viewpoints to choose from depending on the kind of party you want to host.
Tasting Table Cooking with Friends: Recipes for Modern Entertaining by Geoff Bartakovics and Todd Coleman
From the creators of the Tasting Table website, this guide to hosting is all about inspiring us to entertain more often. Looking through this book makes me want to have about 20 parties just so I can try all the recipes that I've flagged and I love that the menus are built for crowdsourcing, even if it's just one or two friends who will come over early and hang out anyway.
Chef and actor David Burtka is also an entertaining guru. Life is a Party covers everything from playlists to goodie bags, parties with the whole family or going all-out for a sophisticated celebration. Organized by season, Burtka offers 106 recipes and the gorgeous photographs throughout beautifully showcase this fabulous collection of ideas and know-how.