How to Throw a Great Party in Six Easy Steps

We captured the highlights of a recent party at Laura Gabbert and Andrew Avery’s Los Angeles house for our September 2012 story, “American Pastoral.” As evidenced in the magazine and our extended photo slideshow online, this family really knows how to entertain. Here, six tips from Gabbert and Avery on throwing a fun and inviting party—plus, a recipe for a garden-fresh Gimlet.
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1. Involve Friends

Gabbert and Avery tap their network of ambitious home-chef friends to help with pre-party prep. "It makes the party more fun and participatory," says Gabbert. "We do a lot of orchestrated potlucks."

Invite kids, grandparents, and other guests outside of your age bracket to keep the conversation lively and unexpected.

2. Go Intergenerational

3. Be Informal

No dress code, no fancy place settings, and keep shoes optional. Stay casual and your guests will feel at ease.

4. Curate an Eclectic Playlist

An iPod loaded with a wide variety of songs keeps ears intrigued and toes tapping. "We play a little of everything," says Gabbert. Some of her favorite artists include:

  • Celia Cruz
  • The Shins
  • Tordd Gustavsen Trio
  • Blundetto
  • Kronos Quartet
  • Bon Iver
  • The Flaming Lips
  • Bill Evans
  • Blind Pilot
  • Nina Simone

5. Create Good Lighting

Avery suggests using fire indoors and electricity outdoors. Light candles or the fireplace, and string bistro lights or electric lanterns in the garden for sparkle.

Making the Gabbert Giblet, a modern, garden-fresh interpretation of a favorite family recipe.

6. Serve a Signature Drink

Whether it’s a favorite wine or a memorable cocktail, a house drink makes for a powerful party ritual. Here’s a Southern California variation on the Bootleg, a drink that was a Gabbert family standard when they lived in Minnesota.

In the open-plan kitchen, bowls and platters by Heath Ceramics and bamboo trays and tongs from Design House Stockholm decorate the farm-to-table buffet on the steel-topped kitchen island.

Gabbert Gimlet (Makes 6)
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup fresh mint, plus extra for garnish

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • ½ to 1 cup superfine sugar

  • ice

  • 6 shots vodka or gin (Gabber uses Reyka Vodka or Broker’s Gin)

  • Club soda (Gabbert uses Gerolsteiner sparkling mineral water)

Puree parsley, mint, lime juice, and sugar in a blender until smooth. Fill six cocktail classes with ice and shots of vodka or gin. Divide pureed mixture between the six glasses.

Top each glass with a splash of club soda for a bit of saltiness. Stir and garnish with whole mint leaves.


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