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Ask the Entertaining Experts

Let the party planners at New York based event planning company Flaherty Miller Events answer all your entertaining queries from how to make an inexpensive centerpiece to what cocktail to serve to impressive hors d¹oeuvres how-tos. Partners Jane Miller Rennert and Siobhan Flaherty Haber have a wealth of party planning experience under their belts, let them help you make your event a smashing success. Post your question now.

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Q: i'am having and valentine's day party and and i don't want to have a boring patry i was hoping if you can help me with giving me tips to have a cool and hot party. thank you

fort wayne
A: Check out's aphrodesiac and love potions. These drinks and menus are sure to get things going.

Q: Hi, I am actually interested in getting into the party planning industry. I have not attended any schooling but I love doing it on my own. Any suggestions about how to start or get in with a company. I live in CA. Please help!

Chelsea McGee,
Winnetka CA
A: Try contacting local party-planning companies in your area. Send a letter expressing your interest. Perhaps you could offer to work for free to get experience and learn the ropes. Also, you could start by helping your friends and family throw their parties. If you do a good job and let people know your intentions they can recommend you to others. Good Luck.

Q: We're throwing a fish fry for our parents 40th anniversary. We're expecting 50+ people in our home. What are some special touches to help people feel welcome?

Cedar Creek
A: Place food in various spots around your home in areas you want people to gather. It's inviting and encourages interaction. Place pictures of your parents together around the house or on a table with a guest book for people to leave notes and share memories. Give the completed book to your parents at the end of the night. Party favors are always fun and a round of trivia focusing on the couple is a great way to bring everyone together.

Q: i am desprite i need help trying to find a place to have my birthday party. And by the way i am ten years old

Kelly Rose ,
New York
A: Perhaps a local park. If it's a summer party, maybe at the pool. If it's a winter party, you could go ice skating. What about throwing a party at home? Think of fun games or activites and celebrate with cake and ice cream.

Q: I am a new mom about ready to christen my child. I would like to throw a classy but inexpensive reception (mostly family). Any ideas? The party is set for May and will have about fifty to sixty guests, I was planning to have it outdoors, but even with tents, it would be uncomfortable should it rain.

angella garcia,
new york
A: I suggest a classy buffet. A salad of mixed greens, shaved parmasean, salted nuts and fruit is easy and pleasing on a buffet. Roasted spring vegetables are easy, too. Toss a selection of spring veggies such as artichoke, asparagus, vidalia onion or beets and toss with olive oil and sea salt, or herbs such as tarragon, parsley, etc. As a main dish try roast pork or beef loin. Marinate in a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, pepper and herbs. Sear the loins in batches then roast until cooked through. Let rest and slice. Serve on platters. Round out with good bread or rolls and dessert. Set up a bar with wine and refreshments.

Q: I am catering a party for a couple getting married in vegas they would like to have their reciption here but have it vagas style.They want lots of heavy hors d'oeuvres. I have never been to vegas and was wondering if you had any idea on what kind of hors d'oeuvres. Thanks Erich

A: I wouldn't say there is a typical Vegas hors d'oeuvre. However, Vegas is a city of decadence and "sin" so the hors d'oeuvres should be equally sinful and decadent. Butter, cream, cheese, caviar, champagne! Live it up, Vegas style. There are entire books dedicated to Hors d'oeuvres. Check some of them out and look for recipes you think the couple would like.

Q: what do i need to think about when holding a candle party

A: You should be thinking simple and easy. Make ahead dips and finger-foods allow guests to plate up then eat on the move while checking out the candles. Bowls of spiced nuts, olives and candies will keep munchers happy. I suggest a punch or mixed drinks made in large batches and kept in pitchers on ice to keep you from having to tend bar. Also, keep chilled soda, wine, etc.

Q: I am having a late august wedding, what would be an alternative to the "soup course", also do you have any ideas for the menu, I would prefer seasonal options. Thanks!

Lauren Salas,
new york
A: If you are wanting to leave out the soup course to avoid serving a hot, heavy dish, perhaps you should consider chilled soups. Instead of heavy and thick, chilled soups are refreshing and light, but full of flavor. Chilled carrot soup is popular along with cucumber and melon soups. If you're looking to exclude soup all together, simply serving a salad is acceptable. Or add a cheese plate later in the meal to make up for the soup. Small-portion seasonal vegetable or meat dishes are popular alternatives, too.

Q: I have been asked to prepare the meal for my sister in laws wedding in august and wanted to get some good ideas for a roat beef and a pork loin. There will be aprox 200 guest so I dont want to disappoint. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff Pelley,
A: The good thing about larger cuts of meat is that you can yield good results with minimal fuss. For pork loin calculate serving sizes and buy accordingly. I suggest simply piercing the cuts and stuffing with garlic slivers and orange peel. Sear to get great color, in batches, and finish in the oven being careful to test each cut for doneness with an instant read thermometer. Simple and flavorful.

Q: I need some suggestions on make ahead a day in advance hors d'oeuvres(simple assembly) that all I have to do is pop them in the oven at the last minute. Thanks

Mayrean McDonough,
Marble Falls, TX 78654
A: Many hors d'oeuvres can be assembled in advance and placed in the freezer or fridge, then re-heated in the oven. Frozen puff-pastry is about as easy as it gets. It can be stuffed with anything, savory or sweet, and shaped into lots of great looking finger-foods. For example, cut a sheet of puff pastry into squares and place a spoonful of herbed goat cheese in the center of each. Pull the edges up to create a little "bundle" and bake until golden and crispy. Let cool then place, covered in freezer. Reheat for service. The filling options are endless and the golden, flaky pastry is buttery and light. Meatballs are also easy. Be creative with flavors. Keep it simple in marinara or barbeque sauce or impress with a flavorful asian variety. Cook them off, then place in fridge. Reheat for service.

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