I come from a long line of entertainers—and I’m not talking vaudevillian comics or circus clowns. My grandmother never passed up the opportunity to throw a party. Fiftieth birthdays or six-year anniversaries, landing dream jobs or leaving old ones that had soured all were cause for celebration. My mother picked up right where Grandma left off. Sweet sixteens, engagement parties, and baby namings all were held under the roof where I grew up, with people spilling outside when the guest list got out of hand (which it often did and—sigh—still often does).
Somehow, a love of throwing parties rubbed off, and I’m always happy to open my house to family and friends. I’ll do the cooking, you bring a bottle of my favorite Shiraz, and I promise to drink it with you while stirring the sauce. Lampshade not required.
That’s why I was so excited when we decided to do our first entertaining issue. In these pages, you’ll find a veritable host’s resource, whether that’s a playlist for a formal dinner for 20, a menu for a wine-food pairing for 10, or a blueberry-muffin recipe that Liz Aiello, Martha Stewart’s SVP of broadcasting, serves up at brunch for her extended family. We ask top Westchester party pros to help us create a perfect fall fest and sneak into the Chappaqua home of Wine Enthusiast founders/owners Sybil and Adam Strum as they celebrate the opening of their new 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Mount Kisco with a wine-food pairing for friends. We showcase some stunning serveware and ask wine expert W. R. Tish for 10 bottles that are surefire party pleasers.
I’m certain many of my own gatherings could use the top-pro punch, and I read—and reread—these idea-packed pieces with an eagle eye. Most of my celebrations are DIY affairs, and I’m always on the lookout for some expert advice, ideas, and recipes. Still, whether I’m serving catered dishes or down-home cooking, I’m a firm believer that good friends and family make the affair. At least, that’s my company line, and I’m sticking with it.