Host How I Host: Alexandra Mirante
Hosts with imaginations all their own
Contributing Writer with Partytrick and Founder of Tarleton Events
"When people feel at ease... genuine connection and unforgettable memories will occur."
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What's your process for planning a gathering in your home?
I decide what the mood is (casual or formal) that I’m going for and then work backwards from there. Another element that I take into consideration is the time of year. In the winter months, I defer to cozy, intimate gatherings, while in the summer, it’s usually a bigger group, mostly because I can utilize my outdoor space or even move the fête to a park.
What are your go-to party activities or games to break the ice?
I love connecting people, so often times when I host, there may be guests that don’t know each other, so to eliminate awkwardness, I introduce them both right away and offer a little tidbit about each person - usually something that gives a bit of common ground. Then I let them chat naturally while I’m still there for a little safety net, and I bow out as they develop a good flow. If I know it's someone a bit more shy, sometimes I'll ask a question that I know is related to an area they're comfortable with (or love to chat about), to integrate them into the dialogue of the evening.
"Move that pretty potted orchid from the bedroom and make it the focal point."
If you had a limited budget to put together a small dinner party, what would you focus on for the tablescape?
Use what you already have! There’s no need to go out and drop a bunch of coin on specialty linen, flowers and candles when you might have a stash of underutilized things at home. I like to put scrap fabric (even the occasional non-precious scarf) to work as a runner, or move that pretty potted orchid from the bedroom and make it the focal point, foraging outdoors to clip some greenery and layer it across the table, and of course, using vegetables or fruit that are in-season (and taking up valuable dinner space real estate in your fridge) and displaying in your prettiest bowl.
What makes a great gathering memorable?
Exuding comfortability as the hostess! I always try to make sure guests know my home is an extension of theirs, and I try to make the menu accessible and play to the audience coming and the occasion we’re celebrating. When people feel at ease, that’s when genuine connection—and unforgettable memories—will occur.
"Find your comfort zone and make that your superpower!"
If someone is feeling overwhelmed by hosting their friends in their home, what tips would you give them?
Other than of course using Partytrick, I suggest playing to your strengths! If you’re not a great cook and hiring a caterer is out of the question, make it a take-out party. Say you’re the music lover in your friend group—go with a Disco theme or something similar that feels in your wheelhouse. Find your comfort zone and make that your superpower!
Favorite recipe or food to serve when hosting?
My aunt's brownie recipe. It's completely decadent. I know it by heart, and always have the ingredients on hand, making it a beloved go-to and perennial crowd-pleaser to have in my arsenal.
What is the soundtrack to a dinner party in your home? Have any favorite playlists?
I am a lifelong jazz aficionado, and in particular am an enormous fan of the great Doc Cheatham, whose distinctive voice paired with the exquisite brassy notes of his trumpet, supply a sublime soundtrack for those dreamy nights, where conversations linger and the candles burn low.
What is your favorite partytrick?
Pull all your serveware in advance and set it out the night before. I put a post-it note designating each dish to its corresponding platter or bowl, not only to ensure I have the appropriate vessel, but to serve as a back-up plan on the day-of so I can catch myself if I’ve forgotten something!
"I put a post-it note designating each dish to its corresponding platter or bowl."
About our host
In addition to being a Contributing Writer to Partytrick, Alexandra Tarleton Mirante has over a decade of professional experience in full-service event planning, and brings her detailed experiential designs to life with her company, Tarleton Events. Creating environments for people to share an experience together, ones that make an indelible mark on their memories, is her absolute joy. Alexandra believes there is truly nothing more precious than time well-spent.
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