ANNIE'S TEN RULES FOR PARTY DOMINATION

Tips for hosting.
  1. Off-beat holidays and events are the best.
    Occasions such as the Kentucky Derby, Bastille Day, Oktoberfest and Day of the Dead make for great parties. A built-in theme informs the menu, decor and music, creating a festive time.
  2. Only take on the parts that you enjoy.
    If dying eggs for your Easter table sounds like fun but cooking and making deviled ones makes you anxious, don't do it! Order a honey baked ham, pick up some rolls and have a friend bring a salad (part b of rule # 2: ask for help). Similarly, if roasting a whole lamb is an interesting challenge but Martha Stewart dessert recipes are intimidating, buy a rhubarb crisp or coconut cake and call it a day.
  3. Lighting
    I am crazy for candlelight and go nuts with votive candles. I especially like them on unexpected places like bookshelves and little nooks. Bistro lights never get old and are instantly festive.
  4. A signature drink
    A pitcher of homemade cocktails is always appreciated. Cucumber mint gimlets and mescal greyhounds are pretty and delicious. A spicy margarita is a crowd pleaser. In a pinch, self serve Moscow Mules require zero prep: put out vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime. Rose in the summer is another easy classic.
  5. D.I.Y. floral tip
    Monochromatic or single varietal flowers look best. Bud cases are your best friend - no stressful arranging required.
  6. The Menu
    Don't do too much! One great dish plus a salad is really all you need: spaghetti and meatballs, cracked Dungeness crab, curries, moroccan tagines or a grilled steak are all tried and true options.
  7. A Wow Moment
    Spend your time and money on one high-impact party element, rather than spreading yourself thin. Whether it's homemade french fries, carolers at your Christmas party or an over-the-top party favor, do the one thing that makes you the most excited.
  8. The Playlist
    Thank you Spotify. A Tribe Called Quest, Motown, Goodfellas Soundtrack Radio and I never tire of Jayonce.
  9. Nostalgic and Comforting Desserts
    Chocolate chip cookies (big bonus if served warm), an ice cream sundae bar, DIY s'mores, root beer floats and rice krispy treats are all favorites.
  10. The Right Guest List
    Nothing beats good friends. Except funny ones and excellent conversationalists.
  11. PS What's the new mason jar?
    Please weigh in or make a new list!