The Entertaining Encyclopedia: Essential Tips for Hosting the Perfect Party


The reliable and easy guide to planning any event - from dinner parties at home to weddings, birthdays and banquets.

This is the essential guide to planning any event on budget and with all details considered. In today's challenging economy, people are rediscovering the fun and frugality of hosting parties and throwing their own celebrations, and The Entertaining Encyclopedia is the only do-it-yourself guide they will need. Every phase of entertaining is covered, from how to ...

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The reliable and easy guide to planning any event - from dinner parties at home to weddings, birthdays and banquets.

This is the essential guide to planning any event on budget and with all details considered. In today's challenging economy, people are rediscovering the fun and frugality of hosting parties and throwing their own celebrations, and The Entertaining Encyclopedia is the only do-it-yourself guide they will need. Every phase of entertaining is covered, from how to write and create your own invitations to deciding on a theme and planning and serving the food -- even advice on getting rid of guests who have overstayed their welcome!

The author guides the reader in easy-to-follow steps and covers every detail and decision in sections she calls "essential elements":

  • Essential element 1: Theme
  • Essential element 2: Location
  • Essential element 3: Your guests
  • Essential element 4: Food and beverages
  • Essential element 5: Entertainment.

Also included are 200 recipes and 25 comprehensive menus, allowing readers to plan and host any gathering, from a picnic-boxed lunch to a Chinese banquet to an Oscar-night party. These recipes are foolproof, straightforward and loaded with insider tips and ideas, whether entertaining on a budget or planning a large event.

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Editorial Reviews
The Entertaining Encyclopedia: Essential Tips and Recipes for Perfect Parties by Denise Vivaldo is a fun resource for anyone who loves to throw a party during the holiday season -- or any time of the year.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778802198
  • Publisher: Rose, Robert Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 828,973
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Denise Vivaldo is a professional event planner who has catered more than 10,000 parties and has cooked for such guests as George H.W. Bush, Prince Charles, Cher and Arnold Schwarzenegger. She is the author four books and lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Enjoying Your Own Party

Part 1
Essential Party Elements

Essential Element 1: Theme
Classic Party Themes
Collectors' Themes
International Party Themes
Kids' Party Themes
Not-Your-Typical-Celebration Party Themes
Any Excuse to Party Themes
Decade Parties

Essential Element 2: location
Your Home
Your Backyard
Other Indoor Locations
Other Outdoor Locations

Essential Element 3: Decor

China, Flatware and Glassware
Pulling the Look Together
Party Favors

Essential Element 4: Your Guests
How Many?
Who to Invite
Extending the Invitation
Letting Guests Know What to Wear
Letting Guests Know What to Bring
Seating Arrangements
When Guests Won't Leave

Essential Element 5: Food and Beverages
Can I Make All This Food Myself?
Creating a Balanced Menu
Do-Ahead Food
Getting Ready to Cook
Preparing the Food
Plating and Serving
Presenting the Food: Three Party Styles

Essential Element 6:

Introductions and Name Tags
Tabletop Diversions
Other Entertainers
Crafts, Clubs, and Work Nights
Screen Time

Part 2
Recipes and Menus

Essential Recipes
Salads and Dressings
Desserts and Dessert Sauces

Theme Menus
Garden Brunch
Picnic Boxed Lunch
Kids' Treasure Hunt
Neighborhood Block Party
Birthday for a Special Mom
Afternoon Tea
Champagne and Caviar Party

Wine and Cheese Tasting
Girls' Night In
Friends' Game Night
Oscar Night
Super Bowl Party
Backyard Campout
Southern Charm
Western Hoedown
Pacific Northwest Coast
Hawaiian Luau
Mexican Fiesta
Barcelona Bash
Italian Pasta Party
German Feast
Grecian Get-Together
Turkish Twilight
African Ivory Coast
Chinese Banquet

Part 3
Quick Reference Guide to Entertaining


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I've spent much of my career as a professional caterer, handling everything from celebrity dinner parties to over-the-top weddings to the Academy Awards Governor's Ball (hey, I do live and work in Los Angeles). But when I'm not working, there's nothing I enjoy more than entertaining friends and family. My professional experiences developing recipes, creating innovative menus and styling food for print and television have been instructive, to say the least: over the years, I've discovered hundreds of ways to make parties delicious, beautiful and memorable -- yet totally doable.

The Entertaining Encyclopedia gets back to basics for soirees you can host any time. In this book are all the ideas, menus and recipes you'll need to invite friends over for a cozy movie night or to host an exotic dinner party featuring the foods of Spain or Greece. The best part? These are impressive menus,
but they won't require excessive time or unusual mail-order ingredients; you can pull off anyone of them this weekend, if you choose.

In Part 1, I share the six essential elements of entertaining that will make planning your party easier, ensuring that before the party gets started, you will have thought of everything. In Part 2, you'll find a collection of essential entertaining recipes, as well as two dozen carefully crafted menus, ranging from casual to elegant, that are perfect for parties of six and are easily multiplied for larger parties. And in Part 3, you'll find a handy quick reference guide to entertaining. Turn to it when you want to know more about aperitifs, accommodating vegetarian guests or any of dozens of other entertaining-related issues. This guide encapsulates each topic for you and points back to earlier portions of the book that you are sure to find helpful.

Entertaining friends and family is one of the best gifts you can give them; parties are the stuff of memories, far more valuable than anything you can buy. And one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to learn how to enjoy your own parties, which makes them a lot more fun for everyone. With 200 of my carefully tested recipes and hundreds of time-proven party ideas and tips, this book can be your go-to resource guide for entertaining -- and having a great time doing it.

- Denise Vivaldo


Do you really need a reason to throw a party? The pleasure of getting together with great friends to enjoy good food and wine is reason enough for most of us, but life is full of fantastic excuses to celebrate, should you need one: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, babies, promotions, homecomings, holidays and more.

While we all love going to parties, there's a lot to love about
throwing parties, too -- once you get past the intimidation factor of those dozens of details to consider, such as whether you're confident enough in your crème brûlée to prepare it for guests, or whether you can really invite your yoga buddies and fashionista friends to the same house at the same time. In fact, there's satisfaction to be found in bringing people together for little reasons as well as big ones. At smaller gatherings -- which, after all, make up most of the entertaining that regular folks do in a lifetime -- the conversation is more intimate, and you're more likely to have a chance to visit with each guest individually. But even with a smaller group, you still have to give plenty of thought to party details.

Relax: there are really only six basic elements to entertaining. Take it one step at a time, and you'll be on your way in no time, no sweat. Whether you're hosting an elegant dinner party in the seldom-used formal dining room, a big bash in your backyard or a game-day gathering in front of the television, the six elements are exactly the same:

1 Theme
2 Location
3 Decor
4 Guests
5 Food and Beverages
6 Entertainment

Any detail of your party planning will fall under one of those elements, so start with some overarching decisions and the smaller details will become a lot more obvious, and a lot easier to nail down. When the party's in full swing, with your favorite people gathered around, you'll feel the rewards of all the effort -- and perhaps even the nirvana of entertaining: the realization that you're enjoying your own party. (Not to mention all those reciprocal invitations that will be crowding your social calendar in the coming months.)

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