Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Party Planning

Stress-Free Entertaining With Andrea Correale

I recently had the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with event planner extraordinaire, Andrea Correale.  Andrea is the owner of Elegant Affairs, a catering and event planning company based in NYC.  Not only are her events beautifully executed, her food styling is inspired, as you can see below. 
We talked about ways a busy, working woman can put together a cocktail party without being stressed.  Read on for all of Andrea's fabulous tips...
In order to keep it managable, Andrea suggests keeping your party to 12 - 20 people, and setting up food areas ahead of time on the coffee table, kitchen island, or dining table.  Serving foods that can sit out for long periods without being compromised is also a great idea. 

You don't have to cook everything from scratch your self.  Andrea recommends purchasing interesting foods from favorite restaurants and serving them on your own dishes.  You may be able to get mini pizzettes made instead of one large pizza, or have an assortment of sushi to sample with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce accompaniments.  These are great finger foods that everyone loves.
Three more favorite food choices can include:
  •  French bread slices, brushed with a little olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of salt, and baked for a few minutes until toasted.  Serve with hummus, artichoke pate, olive tapenade, and bruschetta for topping. 
  • Create mini sandwiches with croissants, lean roast beef, horseradish cream, and cheddar cheese.
  • Lay out a Mediterranean theme with spanikopita, stuffed grape leaves, and mini pitas with lamb & yogurt dill sauce (aka gyros).
Some of Andrea's final tips for creating a stress-free cocktail party are:
  • Set up the bar away from the food, in a place you want people to gather and mingle.  Assign one glass per guest and use glass charms to keep them separate.
  • Have a friend bring dessert so you have one less thing to think about.
  • Keep lighting low, or on a dimmer, and set up a play list ahead of time for background music.
  • Make a check list including groceries/menu items to purchase, bar items needed, and last minute to-do actions.
I hope you've enjoyed these fabulous tips from such an esteemed guest.  I couldn't agree more with all of Andrea's advice.  Now there are no more excuses for not entertaining a few friends!  Cheers!