Easy Entertaining

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.

â–  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).

â–  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).

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â–  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).

â–  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.)

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