Originally published in December issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine
By Maria V. Luna
Table photos by Alcides Aguasvivas
First, what is an entertaining expert and what made you want to become one?
Two words: my mother! Effortless entertaining comes so easy to her, and over the years I’ve learned to fully master the art of it. It’s all about the meal, the design, and even the fashion but most importantly it’s about how you make your guests feel. I say every celebration should include infectious laughter, oohing and ahhing over food, and the constant sound of clinking glasses.
Don’t you agree?! So yes, we all want to be the ultimate, stylish hostess and how do we do that? Enter little ol’ me! As an entertaining expert I’m here to help you achieve the ultimate celebration, big and small alike! Ensure you are the hostess with the mostest, as they say. Or, as I prefer, ensuring you are an event fashionista!
OK, now for some serious holiday entertaining advice. Ready?
Yes, let’s do it!
What do you do when all your guests are having a great time but there is a Debby Downer in the crowd who keeps complaining about everything?
Oh no! Nothing kills a party like a guest who keeps complaining. I can’t say I’ve ever dealt with one, so I’ll consider myself lucky, right? But what I will say is pay close attention to that guest and steer him or her clear from continuous complaining. Keep them occupied and engaged.
Talk to them, offer them a cocktail, whatever it takes. I know it seems like a daunting task but as the host it’s your responsibility. Last thing you want is other guests catching on. Then that would really be a Debby Downer!
Ugly sweater party—so over it. What’s a better theme for this year’s party?
I’m all about a theme, just ask anyone who knows me! An ultimate favorite of mine and always seems to get the crowd going, is a “Come As You Were Party!” You get everyone to dress up as a younger version of themselves. It’s the best time ever and you’d be pleasantly surprised how creative people can get!
What’s your signature holiday cocktail, and is there a “virgin” alternative?
A girl loves her cocktails and that girl would be me! My signature go-to is none other than Coquito! It’s ah-mazing! This coconut and cinnamon mixture will have you wishing the holidays were all year round. It’s what I grew up drinking so no holiday festivity of mine goes without it. Not to worry, if you leave out the rum (although, why would you?) you’ve got yourself a tasty mocktail!
Invite the neighbors or no?
Absolutely! Why not?! The more the merrier. Plus you won’t get noise complaints! #winning
There was some sort of a pumpkin craze this past fall. Is there a flavor craze this winter season and how can it be incorporated into the holiday fiesta?
Yes! I’d say it’s cinnamon! It’s warm aroma and tangy flavor really reminds me of the holidays. Where to incorporate it? In your coquito, of course! Oh wait, did I already mention that? Ha! Ha!
What do you do if most of your guests don’t show up (gasp!)?
A seasoned hostess always keeps calm, cool and collected. And truth be told, what does this really do to your party? Nothing, I promise! There’s just more cocktails and food to go around!
So, don’t panic. If you’re having an amazing time your guests will have an amazing time. Plus my mom (being the ultimate hostess that she is) always taught me this: those who came matter and those who didn’t are simply missed—no, wait… those who didn’t are simply missing OUT!
It’s an international crowd, but how does one add a little Latin flavor to a party without making anyone feel left out?
I say the food. Always the food. I know I’m biased but Latin food is so flavorful and tasty. So, I usually make empanadas or papas rellenas and they are always a hit. I have yet to meet a person that didn’t die over them!
Do you have a recipe for a quick and easy hors d’oeuvre?
Definitely! When pressed for time, I whip out my cheese board, bake some Brie (in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes), drizzle some honey and serve with crostini. Voilà, you’ve just made a perfect hors d’oeuvre!
What if your friends like to play games? What’s a fun game for adults?
I love games and a party that includes them just makes for a great time! Adults only, I say Cards Against Humanity. Kids involved, Taboo all the way! Best games ever!
We know how to turn up, but how do you turn the party down and let guests know it’s time to go?
Ha! Ha! This is a great question. My trick is easy. I conspicuously begin to clean up. It works every time! You’d be surprised how fast people volunteer to help and then take it as the non-verbal, “it’s time to go” sign!