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Fête Accompli

Entertaining shouldn’t be a chore. Our entertaining pros share their best advice


Create a focal point

“Source your home, indoors and out, to make a one-of-a-kind centerpiece. Branches, blooms and fruits all make a beautiful addition to any table.”

— Julie Blanner, lifestyle blogger,

Flowers from Bergamot and Ivy Design in the Crossroads.


Be prepared

“A prep list is your best friend.”

— Julita Latimer, caterer,

Ramekins, $2.25 to $6.99, spatula, $10.99, Emile Henry mixing bowl, $40, dish towel, $8.99, set of measuring spoons, $14.99. All from Prydes Kitchen and Necessities in Westport. Kate Spade notebook, $24, from HMK on the Country Club Plaza, Kate Spade pen, $36, from Statements in Hawthorne Plaza.


Serve a signature drink

“A signature drink is always in season and makes hosting easy. Keep the pitcher nearby for quick refills.”

— Julie Blanner, lifestyle blogger,

Watermelon Lime Cooler

8    cups seedless watermelon cubes, plus thin wedges for garnish

6    tablespoons honey or agave nectar

6    cups white rum

1/3    cup fresh lime juice, plus 1 sliced lime

3    cups soda water or sparkling water

A few sprigs of mint or rosemary


Purée watermelon in blender. Strain into bowl through fine-mesh sieve. Stir in honey, rum and lime juice. Transfer to pitcher; stir in water, lime slices and mint. Chill; serve over ice.

“Amelia” stemless glasses, $52 each, “Isabella” pitcher, $175, linen tweed napkin, $38,  “Historia” dessert plate,  $127 for set of 4. All from Terrasi Living & Scandia Home on the Country Club Plaza.


Use place cards

“At dinner parties—even small ones—people want to know where to sit. Use place cards! Un-stuffy them by writing nicknames or making jokes—Patrick + iPhone.”

— Merrily Jackson, Essential Entertaining maven

Placecards, 10/$15, The Little Flower Shop in Westwood Hills. Arabella goblet, $35, and stemmed glass, $28, Deborah Rhodes linen/cotton napkin, $32, Anna Weatherley salad plate, $527, dinner plate, $46, charger, $110. All from Halls on Grand in Crown Center. Five-piece set gold flatware, $39, from West Elm on the Country Club Plaza.


It’s not about the food

“A great dinner party is so not about the food. Set a pretty table, invite a fun group, keep the drinks flowing and serve take-out. Trust me, no one will care.”

—Merrily Jackson, Essential Entertaining maven

Rectangular Oribe plate, $55, Jurgen Lehl large Oribe bowl, $285, Oribe round cup (used as soup bowl), $95, narrow cup, $95, Christiane Perrochon sake cup, $45. All from Asiatica in Westwood. Joyce Chen bamboo server, $4.99, bamboo mat, $4, porcelain soup spoon, $4.95, all from Prydes Kitchen and Necessities.

ENT_ProsKnow_6Throw in something healthy

“There are dozens of ways to trick people into eating their vegetables.”

— Julita Latimer, caterer,

Vegetable Quesadillas

1    pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes

1½    tablespoons olive oil, divided

12    six-inch corn tortillas

1    medium onion, diced

1½    tablespoons dark chili powder

½    tablespoon chipotle powder

1    teaspoon ground cumin

1    cup roasted or thawed frozen corn

1    cup roasted red peppers

2    cups cooked short-grain brown rice

1    can (8 ounces) enchilada sauce

1    cup shredded low-fat pepper jack cheese, divided

1    can (15 ounces) low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1    avocado, thinly sliced

1    scallion, chopped

6    sprigs fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, toss potatoes in 1 tablespoon oil; spread on a baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are soft and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Wrap tortillas in foil; bake 10 minutes. In a large pan over medium heat, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add onion, chili powder, chipotle and cumin; cook until onion is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add corn, peppers and black beans; cook 5 minutes. Set aside half of corn mixture. Add potatoes, rice and enchilada sauce to pan; cook 6 minutes. Place 6 tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread potato mixture and 1/2 cup cheese evenly among tortillas. Top with remaining 6 tortillas, remaining 1/2 cup cheese and reserved corn mixture; bake 7 minutes. Divide avocado, scallion and cilantro among quesadillas. Serves 6.

Two-tone wooden cutting board, $125, from Prydes Kitchen and Necessities.