How to Throw a Party

Staying in is the new going out.

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Saturday nights spent charging three-course dinners and rounds of Mojitos are so 2008. We consulted some of the craftiest tastemakers we know to help create the ultimate blueprint for an easy, rockin', cheap-ass party.

EAT "This is the perfect little bite," says Carla Hall, hootie-hooing Top Chef contestant and owner of Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C., of her secret crowd-wowing appetizer recipe that serves 10. "Just don't forget to put some love in it!"

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Parmesan Black Olive Shortbread With Goat Cheese

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rice flour

2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated

1 tsp. salt

8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped and diced

6 oz. goat cheese, softened

2 tsp. minced fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix flours, Parmesan, and salt in food processor. Add butter and process until dough forms. Add olives and pulse two times. Shape dough into a ball, then cut in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch log. Slice logs into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Place on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake until bottoms are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool, then add dollops of goat cheese. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper—and grab one before they're all gone.

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DRINK Stefan Trummer, mixologist for the famed Bouley and Masa restaurants in New York City, whips up a simple, fruity concoction sure to make everyone forget they're staying in.

Strawberry Packs a Punch

1 bottle Cachaça

3 16-oz. packs of frozen strawberries

4 cups limeade (8 limes, juiced)

1 bunch basil (separate leaves from stems)

1/2 cup Cream of Balsamic (available at gourmet stores)

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

Thaw strawberries, place in a bowl with raw sugar and basil sprigs, and muddle. Add limeade, lime juice, Cachaça, and Cream of Balsamic, and stir until all ingredients are blended. Transfer to punch bowl and add enough ice to cover all the liquid. Stir to cool, then add more ice. Serves 15.

BE MERRY "Formality is the enemy of fun," says Simon Doonan, author of Eccentric Glamour and the ultimate soiree thrower. Skip the four-course meal and take a cue from when you were a kid. "People love things that resonate with childhood, so turn your dining-room table into a ping-pong table," he says. "Or invite everyone to play Scrabble—in faux French. Make up Frenchy-sounding words for endless fun! Or just get a giant piñata and invite everyone to whack the shit out of it."

BOTTOM LINE: $100.

From drinks and dinner to brunches and parties - get chic and easy recipes here.

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