Host How I Host: Maria Colalancia
Hosts with imaginations all their own
Maria Colalancia, Founder of The Aperitivo Society
"As long as the heart, love, and best intention is there, the rest will be okay."
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What's your process for planning a gathering in your home?
I either start with the theme or the menu—it really just depends on what inspired me first. Sometimes, I get inspired by a seasonal ingredient or a new recipe I found and that will send me spiraling with hosting ideas. Other times, it's a fun party idea or occasion that crossed my mind late at night which launches me into all the other details.
What are your go-to party activities or games to break the ice?
For dinner parties, I love laying down a parchment paper tablecloth and leaving a cup of crayons on the table. It unlocks everyone's inner child and allows for comfortable breaks throughout the evening. Plus, it leaves such a beautiful sight at the end of the evening. If it's a larger, more casual affair, I love card decks. I like to leave stacks of them around the apartment so that guests can pull a card and get a conversation prompt at their leisure. It also saves people who don't want to engage in this way from having to participate in something, if they don't want to.
"If it's a larger, more casual affair, I love card decks."
If you had a limited budget to put together a small dinner party, what would you focus on for the tablescape?
I always look in my fridge and around my space. I love putting random objects and food items together on my table. It feels intimate, authentic, and whimsical. Plus, it's reliable and affordable in a pinch!
What makes a great gathering memorable?
Saying the guests sounds too cheesy and obvious, so I'm going with dessert. It's the last part of the meal, so by default the part that the guests are most likely to remember. I love it most though because it's a state of post-meal bliss. I think it's the feeling that guests take home with them and carry for the rest of the evening. That's the feeling that keeps people gathering again and again.
"I love it most though because it's a state of post-meal bliss."
If someone is feeling overwhelmed by hosting their friends in their home, what tips would you give them?
Take a deep breath and make a plan! Also: Do what you can with what you have. I think this extends past hosting into everyday life, but I always like to remember that my good is good enough. As long as the heart, love, and best intention is there, the rest will be okay. Your guests will be blown away, regardless of whether or not you forgot to put out that one dish, etc. But, making lists, setting reminders, and using Partytrick certainly helps!
Favorite recipe or food to serve when hosting?
Warm snacks! This is a bit of an inside family joke, but growing up my uncle said he wasn't coming to a gathering (of any kind) unless there were warm snacks. I've got a pretty nice list of easy warm snacks up my sleeve thanks to him! I love them because most of them take less than 10 minutes and feel much more fancy and labor intensive than they actually were.
What is the soundtrack to a dinner party in your home? Have any favorite playlists?
Jazz! Nothing says dinner party like a nice jazz playlist. You will never be able to convince me otherwise.
What is your favorite partytrick?
Right now, I'm all about a farm to table summer soiree! But, I can't wait for fall to host the Cozy Tarot, Palm, or Tea Reading.
About our host
I created The Aperitivo Society after my first year living in Boston as a way to meet new people and expand my community while doing what I love: Hosting, cooking, and sharing my knowledge of wine and spirits. I was raised Italian (on my father's side) and Irish/Croatian (on my mother's side). The desire to host and bring people together over food and drinks is part of my DNA. Thanks to one (mini) viral TikTok back in January of 2023, I had 700 people sign up over night. We've been having dinner and throwing parties all around New England ever since.
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