As I mentioned before, I’ve got a thing for the library and my latest kick has included party planning books. I brought my stack of books to the cabin over the weekend, poured myself a glass of wine and dove right in.
And since I’m married to a soon-to-be accounting professor, I had to calculate the total value of the books and see what I “saved” by checking them out from the library instead of buying them: $142.88. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
Now, let me save you some time and share my recommendations on my latest library picks:
Around the Table: Easy menus for cozy entertaining at home by Ellen Wright (Retail: $27.95)
I had high hopes for this book and was moderately disappointed once I started reading. I was pleased to find out that Ellen and I have similar party planning philosophies and the same idea when it comes to keeping ingredients on-hand for surprise guests. I also liked how the recipes were laid out by ‘event’ and each menu was fully detailed. I did manage to find a couple of recipes that I’m really looking forward to trying: stuffed mushrooms with shallots p. 87, piroshkies p. 105 and Soni’s Chicken Provencal p. 150.
I’d save your money and recommend checking this book out of your local library rather than buying it.
Easy Entertaining at Home by Sandra Lee (Retail: $14.99)
I sort of love Sandra Lee and her semi-homemade philosophy. I have not-so-secret hopes of being the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade of the crafting/DIY world, since no one has much patience these days. I used to subscribe to Sandra Lee’s magazine until they stopped publishing. Anyway, back to the book.
This book really focuses on cocktails which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not really my thing. I did mark at lot of booze recipes (sorbet shooters, p. 16, Sandy’s spiced wine, p. 41, ‘Born this way’ tequila-limeade-raspberry slushy, p. 49, ‘Pear bella’ pear brandy-peach belllini-champagne drink, p. 114, so that’s a plus.
Some other soon-to-be favorites that I marked include: prosecco cake, p. 12, maple cakes, p. 42, pear puffs, p. 46, and ‘Blushing berry cupcakes,’ p. 138.
I’d save your money and recommend checking this book out of your local library rather than buying it, although there were quite a few great ideas!
Party Confidential by Lara Shriftman and Elizabeth Harrison (Retail: $29.99)
I had no idea what to expect with this book, but I was intrigued, the cover included some classy parties and some tacky parties and a photo of Serena Williams. I really liked how each party theme is detailed and they discuss the menu, lighting, playlist, favors and “steal it” ideas for DIY’ing the parties for yourself.
Party Confidential also lists some themes for parties and one of them I think was stolen from me: Come on Barbie, Let’s go party! Here is a gem of me from my Barbie party, circa 2008. I was Birthday Barbie and I had a great time. Best party ever.
There were interesting sections about giving toasts and hostess gifts, but other than that, I was less than impressed. Save your money on this one too and pick it up at the library.
Celebrate: A year of festivities for families and friends by Pippa Middleton (Retail: $50)
This book was heavy (400 pages). Lots and lots of good information, most of which didn’t apply to me since I don’t have kids. However, Pippa does keep a dress up box, crafting toolbox and party cupboard, p. 174, so maybe we are meant to be friends. I really liked the ‘creepy cocktails,’ p. 34, including blackberry collins and the blood and sand. I also thoroughly enjoyed Pippa’s countdown to Christmas and edible gifts, p. 92. I’m looking forward to making her Christmas truffles and gingerbread stars this holiday season. (Yes, I’m already planning the holidays…) It appears as though Pippa also plans a great Valentine’s Day. Her chocolate truffles and rose-petal martini, p. 197, may make it to our house come February 14, along with the nutella madeleines that she has slated for ‘afternoon tea.’
Brandon is a chocoholic so Pippa’s “the chocolate game” caught my eye. This game includes a large chocolate bar, some winter layers, and dice. You roll the dice and when a six is thrown, the player puts on their ‘winter layers’ (including mittens) as fast as they can and then they cut and eat a square of the chocolate bar. You keep on going like this until all of the chocolate is gone, or something. This game was on page 301, so I was tired of reading at this point.
Should you buy the book? I wouldn’t. $50 is a lot of money! But there are some good haggis recipes. (Ick.)
Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade gatherings by Sandra Lee (Retail: $19.95)
I had really high hopes for this book (see my ode to Sandra above) but this one was pretty disappointing. I really liked the idea of party themes and had hoped for some great ideas but instead I found a daisy-themed party and a wine and cheese party with ROOSTERS. Some people really like faux roosters. I’m not one of those people. Plus I’m highly critical of wine and cheese parties, so I was pretty let down.
I did find a recipe that I will use come the holidays: a gingerbread martini, p. 118. I also thought the avocado shrimp salad, p. 242, looked pretty tasty. I also was a fan of the napkin folding instructions and place setting examples in the back of the book, of course, those are easy to find thanks to Google Images and Pinterest.
Definitely don’t buy this book and instead check it out of your local library.
Phew. Long post! A special shout out to the Seattle Public Library for having such a great catalog! Based on my above research, it’s clear that you should really pop by the library to check out books before committing to buying them. (Literally! Get it? Check out. Heehee.)