Sassy lifestyle guru Steve Kemble shows you how to throw the perfect party
Just because the No Tie Dinner eschews the fuss and formality of a black tie doesn’t mean you can’t do it up right. Steve Kemble — America’s sassiest lifestyle guru and this year’s honorary chair of the AIDS Services of Dallas fundraiser — came up with this list of hints for how to put on your party, from creating a theme to tailoring the event to your personality. (Best of all, the tips are good beyond the No Tie Dinner.)
If you aren’t hosting a dinner this year, or attending one, you can still enjoy the dessert party at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Saturday night.
Coming up with a theme
Country. For example, why not Italy!? Dress your party in the colors of Italy and serve amazing Italian cuisine!
Color. Pick a color and go with it — you’ll be amazed how much atmosphere and decor it adds to your party by asking all your guests to dress in one color. Come on Dallas — let’s show Palm Springs how you really do a “White Party” (just watch the panty lines)!
DIY. The do-it-yourself trend is still hot! So why not prepare the “base” of the entrée and let your guests do it themselves by selecting their own pizza toppings, fillings for their burrito or the items they would like on a slider?
Giving your event personality
Create a signature cocktail. Not only does this create a personal touch to your party, it is a big time-saver. I suggest pre-mixing your specialty cocktail (which can go along with your theme) and pouring it in a wonderful pitcher. Then place out a table card with the name and ingredients, a bucket of ice and tongs, glasses and let guests pre-serve themselves as you continue with any last-minute dinner preparation.
Set the mood. You’ve heard the phrase “Let there be light” … I say, “Let there be no light!” Dim those lights and bring in lots and lots of candles. Candles are the most cost-effective way to create an atmosphere. I love to use them in a variety of shapes and sizes. For dinner parties I think it is best to use unscented candles as to not compete with the fabulous aromas of what you are serving!
Pump it up. I’d never take any business from our fabulous DJ’s here in Dallas, but sometimes space will not allow someone manning the turntable. Consider asking a local superstar (think Jennifer Miller and Paul Paredes, Lucy Wrubel or Brandon Olds) for a playlist … and let your guests know who created it!
Fake-out/Take-out! This time of year is so very crazy busy for everyone, so if time runs out before dinner, don’t fear. Take action and do what I like to call Fake-out/Take-out: Go to your favorite carry-out establishment (Eatzi’s?) and order some amazing to-go meals. For that special touch, I always take in my own platters or serving dishes and have them put the food right on the dish. You know it looks good and you know what garnishes to buy to finish the presentation of the dish.
Finish strong. I love to finish any dinner party with a fabulously strong cup of joe, and maybe a few chocolate truffles as well. I even go as far as to set up a “to-go” station so guests can take their coffee on the road with them, à la Starbucks. It is a wonderful treat on the way home. (Tea is a nice addition for your non-coffee drinkers.)
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 5, 2013.