Our editor-at-large and Top Chef: Just Desserts judge Dannielle Kyrillos suggests picking a color and sticking to it when you decorate. White is obvious, but theming your fete around one hue means it’s easy to use cheap grocery store flowers, plants, and leaves. Even carnations look fancy-pants when cut short and put in a bowl.
Dannielle considers candles to be at once show ponies and workhorses: En masse, they are jaw-droppingly dramatic, and a big sack of votives runs you only about $5. While, of course, being very, very mindful of anything flammable and where guests’ hair might be tossed, put them in teacups and clusters on plates. Check her out at dannielledishes.com.
“If you are going to buy just one new thing, these fluffy balls of awesomeness (in your chosen color, of course) are it. Hang them; arrange them on tables with strings of white lights; throw on countertops. Later, tie to heads as hats,” a very wise woman says.
Professional cool cat and jewelry designer Meghan Lorenz tells you how to save funds without sacrificing fun. There’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned pizza party, dance-off, themed gathering, or having guests serve themselves.
The master restaurateur’s surprisingly simple dessert option: Put frozen fruit (raspberries, blueberries, cherries) in a blender, add a touch of honey, pulsate, and slowly add organic fruit juice. Blend until smooth for homemade sorbet.
Already committed old issues of The New Yorker, The Economist, and The Atlantic to memory? Ease your intellectual burden by turning text-heavy magazines into paper flower garlands with help from the California-based biz that deals exclusively in fun. Get the directions.
Inviting people over who aren’t even Facebook friends? The entertaining pros at the acclaimed seafood brasserie at New York’s Carlton Hotel suggest wrapping objects (oranges, books, knickknacks) from around the house in newspaper — guests can bond over current events without the awkward non sequiturs.
Don’t have a Rachael Ray-size income for EVOO? Allow the community of writers, visual artists, musicians, and filmmakers that make up the Hot Knives collective to help you pump up the volume. Infuse the cheap stuff with meaty, dry-cured olives. Get the directions.
Hot Knives are one with the spirit: Even the cheapest of vodka brands (salutations to Mr. Popov and Georgi) get bumped up to first class when infused with lemongrass, lavender, pink peppercorns, or just a couple of vanilla beans sliced in two.
Smoked salmon comes delicious, but it doesn’t come cheap: Hot Knives suggests rescuing the shriveled beets in your crisper and morphing them into the perfect topping for a brunch bagel. You’ll need little more than cold water, an oven, and a sense of purpose.
Hot Knives has some tips for brew geeks: There’s no shame in pouring a black and tan to stretch your beer. Buy a four-pack of Guinness in cans. Slowly pour pint glasses one-third full with a Dogfish Head Bitches Brew, and then top with two-thirds Guinness, drizzled over an upside-down cereal spoon. Friends say you’re skimping? Malts and carbon dioxide bring out the complex flavors, maaaaan.
The party professionals advise you to kill two birds with one stone: Invite your pals over for a decorating party. Get a bunch of inexpensive streamers, balloons, and paper, as well as some office supplies like tape, glue, and a stapler. Add your nearest and dearest, some booze, and tunes to make an unbeatable combination.
Yeah, you want to drink this. Philadelphia’s Percy Street Barbecue takes the champagne of beers, pickle juice, and barbecue sauce (trust us) to combine the best piquant flavors from any proper tailgating spread into one thirst-quenching beverage.