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The Art of Easy Entertaining
By Miss Melody McClain

For many of my peers, the art of entertaining includes a keg of beer, a drop cloth and half a dozen pizzas. But we're too old for the Animal House antics.

As a college graduate, with a professional job, it's time to throw adult parties: cocktail hours and gourmet dinner parties, with adult conversations and a hint of what the French call l'ivress, not front yard pukers.

In the last few years, I've found a few secrets to successful entertaining. Some are universal. Others work with my style. If you're planning a party, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Always inform your closest neighbors of your party plans. It's always a good idea to encourage them to contact you, especially if they feel it necessary to inform the men in blue of your perceived debauchery.
  • A theme is a great way to start conversations with your guests, especially if they do not necessarily know one another. I've hosted parties featuring piñatas, desserts, jobless friends, even a full Thanksgiving dinner for 15.
  • Do not turn on your television, unless you have a movie theme and/or you're honoring a guest with a video montage.
  • If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages, have extra pillows and blankets on hand. You'll protect yourself and your guests by offering shelter to refugees who may have enjoyed your hospitality a bit too much.
  • Make as much of the food in advance as possible. That way, you can be an attentive host. However, when I hold dinner parties, I often invite my closest friends an hour or so in advance because they really seem to enjoy being part of the mad dash to the finish.
  • Don't panic if you don't cook all that much. You can host a lovely party with prepared items, including fresh fruits, gourmet cheeses, crackers, nuts and veggies. Remember, presentation is also very important. Be sure to wash fruit and veggies and remove items from store packaging.
  • And if you're going to have that kegger, your guests will have so much more respect for you if you can get one or more former cast members from the TV show Jackass to serve the beer from the keg. Just be sure to put down that drop cloth.
In the coming weeks, I'll offer some of my secrets to stellar entertaining.

Plus, I'll even showcase some of my favorite home design ideas, and the best recipes a girl can glean from her grandma. You can rest assured that all of these ideas/suggestions are road tested.

If it's too difficult for a busy working gal, I'll be honest and say so. If it falls over, collapses or just doesn't look pretty, I promise to still serve it. But my guests will definitely crack a few jokes at my expense.

If you have a question or suggestion for a story, please feel free to e-mail me at MissMelody@ClevelandWomen.com.

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