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Hostess With The Mostest: Entertaining Essentials

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Some of you might be traveling and others staycationing but, hopefully, all of you are planning on doing some celebrating this weekend. Since many consider Labor Day to be the final hooray before the dawning of autumn, this weekend promises to be packed with cookouts, beach trips, dinner parties, frozen drinks and all the summertime fun you can pack into a 3-day time span.

If you’re throwing a party of your very own, consider how to make the setting cozier and livelier through your choice of tableware, your decorative touches and your drink menu. Here, a few suggestions for a memorable fest.


Monica Hirsh “Modern Asian” Carnation Arrangement, $49. Visit MonicaHirsch.com

Carnations have gotten a bad rep in the past but, over the past few years, they’ve been making a strong comeback, with celebrity florists employing them to make vibrant and fragrant arrangements. Here, renowned florist Monica Hirsh has given carnations a modern, sleek look by packing them tightly to create a dome-like shape inside a glass fishbowl. If you’re hosting a sit-down dinner, consider placing a few of these along a long, rectangular table — or, if it’s a less formal affair, try placing them at key points in your home such as your foyer.
American Grown Hand Soap, $7.50. Available at BathAndBodyWorks.com

As a kid, I would giggle at my mother’s obsession with having nice “display towels” in the bathroom. My brother and I weren’t allowed to touch them (much less use them), and my infantile mind couldn’t quite comprehend the fuss over something that served a strictly decorative purpose. Fast-forward to my first year out of college, when I was renting my own apartment for the very first time and, during one dinner party gone awry, I found myself fussing about an unruly house guest messing up my display towels. At that point, I not only knew that I had become my mother’s child, but I understood the effort she’d put into making our bathroom look presentable — particularly when we were having company.

These liquid soaps by American Grown, available in the scents Napa Grape, Savannah Mint, Montana Sky, Siesta Key Lemon and Washington Apple, add as much color and personality as any fancy, miniature soaps — and guests can actually make use of them without incurring your wrath.


CB2 Little Cayman Plates, $0.95 each. Visit CB2.com

Nice dinner parties are all about cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. It helps to have a nice meal of course, but most of the action happens as guests mingle, working the room while sampling the array of appetizers and finger foods. These tiny, high gloss plates will make any hors d’oeuvres look all the more, well, appetizing.


Fashionation iSpin Portable DJ Mixer, $99-$120. Visit FashionationStyle.com

If there’s one thing that can make or break a party, it’s the selection of tunes. If you’re having a cookout and you want to keep the crowd rockin’, try investing in Fashionation’s iSpin Portable DJ Mixer, a lightweight MP3 player and mixer in one. The iSpi nincludes two universal docking stations that fit any iPod model, so you can stream tunes from your iPod’s playlist and then indulge your inner turntablist with the gadget’s fade, reverb, spin, and filter features. Consider yourself Funkmistress Flex.


Slatkin & Co. Fresh Bamboo Scented Candle, $9.50. Visit BathAndBodyWorks.com

Make sure your home smells fresh without overwhelming guests with any ultra potent, allergy-inducing, artificial floral scents. This 4 oz. filled candle hits all the right notes with its blend of golden bamboo, night-blooming jasmine and wild grasses.


Created by Cassie “Lime in the Coconut” Fused Glass Plate, $18. Visit CreatedByCassie.Etsy.com

Forget all those muted china sets with dainty paisley prints. If you want to create a festive mood, spiece up your table with unique, artsy, colorful plates that will make your guests feel like having a full plate before them is, in and of itself, a source of joy.


Bed Bath & Beyond paper lanterns, $4.99 for set of 5. Available at BedBathAndBeyond.com

Any terrace, patio, or backyard will liven up under the muted light of these battery-operated paper lanterns, which are suitable for both indoor and outdoor. The hooks at the top of each lantern make them easy to hang from any ceiling hook or rafter.

Blood Orange Freeze


X Rated Fusion Liqueur, $25. Available at liquor stores nationwide.

If you want to bring out the last days of a summer with a bang, try serving some frozen drinks, such as a “Blood Orange Freeze,” a fruity cocktail developed by Dave Grimes of Mattison Park in Asbury Park, New Jersey. To make one of these yummy drinks, pour 3 oz. of X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, 1p z. of light rum and 1/2 oz. of grenadine into a blender with ice, then blend, pour, and garnish with a slice of blood orange.

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