Alternate Tips on Hosting the Perfect Party

Just in time for the holidays, comedian Amy Sedaris has published an entertaining guide that will have people talking about your parties well into the New Year.

But probably not in a good way.

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Warner Books, US$27.99) is a cheeseball collection of recipes, party tips, decorating and gift suggestions.

And Sedaris loves cheese balls.

They are the centerpiece of all her parties – she puts an extra one in the bedroom to “de-clump” the guests – and her favorite time-saving tip is to re-form the cheese balls at the end of the night and use them at your next party.

Sedaris, actress and younger sister of humor essayist David Sedaris, defends this 302-page guide and its many recipes as full of “real information.”

“This is not a joke cookbook,” she writes. And to prove it, the pages are decorated with photographic copies of the real, grease-stained recipes she has collected, including recipes for Greek dishes that have been in her family for years.

But the heart of the book is a real joy in entertaining, usually amplified by alcohol or drugs.

“By inviting someone into your home, you are saying, `I like you,’” she writes, “without having to hear yourself say it out loud.”

The recipes are often as funny as her commentary. Whiskey Dick’s Baked Chicken Wings – “`best served when entertaining alcoholics” – includes these instructions:

“Put chicken wings in a pan with some oil. Add salt and pepper now (or whatever you’re sober enough to reach for) so you don’t forget later. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour.


But it is her party tips that will have your guests howling, whether you follow them or read them aloud. (Although Sedaris would consider such a reading to be a sure sign that your party is a failure – like when someone says, “Hey, everyone. Listen to the words in this song.”)

Among her best ideas:

– Before you can be a successful host, you must know yourself, she writes. “One way to do that is to make a self-esteem collage using pictures of other people you wish you were.”

– When planning your party, consider the time of year and whether your dealer is in town.

– A successful party requires successful guests. A possible guest combination to avoid: a girl, her boyfriend and his secret girlfriend.

– Fill your medicine cabinet with marbles to catch that nosy guest.

– Don’t include anything on the menu that requires broiling because the smoke will set off the smoke detector – unless that’s part of the party theme.

– Avoid inappropriate introductions, such as This is Barbara; she can’t have children.”

– If there is a mishap, make light of it. Take a picture of the roast you dropped on the floor and send everyone a copy the next day.

– And make sure the tip jar is prominently displayed.

Sedaris has advice for guests, as well:

– Butter makes an excellent hostess gift because it has so many uses. A roll of quarters is nice, as well.

– Never arrive early. The hostess may be waiting for her double shot to kick in.

– Never offer to bring something. Someone else’s party is no place for your culinary experiments.

– And “always send a nice note or a check the next day so she will know her party was a success.”

But Sedaris’ parties are always a success.

“As my guests leave even my most simplest parties, I consistently hear the same thing: ‘That was the best time I ever had,’ and it’s always me saying it.”

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