I rarely write about private parties, but these two were so fabulous that I just had to share them with you. If you’re looking for a way to throw your own successful fete, look no further than these two for ideas. (And I really loved that they were both just for grown-ups, no pesky children included.)


27657524_10212907817423365_6431071170482342496_nI think that show biz manager Heidi usually throws this “come-in-your-pajamas” brunch on New Year’s Day, but this year, she did it as a pre-Valentine’s Day event. But no matter when she stages a wonderful shindig like this one, it’s always welcome.

The funny thing, for me, was that I woke up that day in my usual PJs, (trust me—not attractive ones,) and then after a shower, I donned a brand new set of blue silk ones for the party. Then when I got home, I changed back into my house set to watch the Olympics! So, it wasn’t at all like I rolled-out of bed and right over to her house.

Karen Salkin's silk PJs and adorbs slippers. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Karen Salkin’s silk PJs and adorbs slippers. Photo by Karen Salkin.

But it was so entertaining to see what her hundred or so guests were wearing! I was happy to see that a majority of them were fun enough to at least try to rock the appropriate attire. Heidi also requested that, along with the pajamas, we wear slippers, or similar footwear, and that was interesting, as well. If there had been a prize for best ensemble, guess who would have won it? Me, of course! Always one to comply with my host’s wishes, my crazy slippers put me over the top! (One day I’ll tell you the story of why I have them to begin with.)

The entire affair was very upbeat and homey, with people mingling in every room and on the outside decks, as well. And it was all so convivial; everyone knew someone. I never go anywhere alone, but I just knew that I would be comfortable enough to do so to this one, and I was correct!

Photo courtesy of Heidi Rotbart.

Photo courtesy of Heidi Rotbart.

But the best part was the food. What a feast Heidi put together! She asked us all to bring our favorite brunch food, and the variety could not have been better!!! She didn’t micro-manage at all; we each just brought what we liked, and it worked out perfectly. She had a beautiful platter of bagels, lox, cream cheese, and all the go-withs, as the starting point. And there were many appetizers, tons of bacon, (how generous was that?!,) all kinds of salads, and several chafing dishes with creative e-word concoctions. And the entire kitchen table was devoted to desserts! I was shocked that no two were alike. (I baked a mocha latte coffee cake, which I was thrilled to see be well-received.)

My absolute favorite dish was a surprise, though. It was Grand Marnier French Toast! As you may know, I detest the taste of alcohol, and I’m not a fan of e-wordy French toast, either. But this dish was perfection! The bread was compressed and tight, and the alcohol taste had burned-off and left a sweet syrup-y taste. I could not get enough of it! [Note: I’m so sorry for the dearth of food pix—I was having such a good time that I totally didn’t think to take any snaps!]

Karen Salkin's mocha latte coffee cake. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Karen Salkin’s mocha latte coffee cake. Photo by Karen Salkin.

As for beverages, many people brought champagne, but another guest and I contributed big containers of orange juice, which got gobbled up right away. (So, if you use this prototype for your own celebration, I suggest you make sure to have a few more people bring OJ, not just for your teetotaler pals, but also so you can make mimosas!)

By the way—this soiree exceeded my already-high expectations. And you know how high they were to begin with by this fact—I left my round-the-clock Olympics-watching for it! I knew that would set me back many hours, (because, as my regular readers know, I watch every moment of the coverage, save for hockey and curling,) but I didn’t want to miss Heidi’s fete. And boy, was I right! Now I can’t wait for next year’s rendition, no matter what date it’s on! I’m in a nightshirt as I’m writing this, so I’m ready to go right now!


This was my second year at this Easter brunch (which is so much more than that,) and here’s a shock—Mr. X came with me, both years!!! So you know how excellent of a party this is, when the homebody opted to return.

Can you guess whose sweatshirt is ruining the gorgeous tableau?  Photo by Karen Salkin.

Can you guess whose sweatshirt is ruining the gorgeous tableau? Photo by Karen Salkin.

This was an all-day event, and it’s planned-out perfectly in advance, so that we can then all be cool and loose on that day. And what a partnership these two hosts have! It’s held at Steven’s stunning Malibu property, and all organized by Denise, (who I wish worked with me! She’s the most organized person ever, and is ultra-pleasant through it all!)

As the invite stated, “doors open at noon,” which gave the twenty or so of us time to meet and greet, and set-up the food we all brought. Denise leaves nothing to chance. Noth-ing!!! She thinks of everything, and plans accordingly for guests who need gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan dishes. (How kind is that?!) And it results in just the correct number (and variety) of appetizers, main and side dishes, and desserts. [Note: I found-out just how rare gluten-free crackers are! My search for them went city-wide!]

Some of the Easter e-word hunters. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Some of the Easter e-word hunters. Photo by Karen Salkin.

After a beautiful al fresco dining experience, overlooking the ocean, it was time for the Easter E-word Hunt! Denise had gone to the trouble of hiding colorful plastic ones all over the massive property, and the guests got to do the search. It was easy to get distracted, though, because designer Steven has so many interesting artifacts along all the trails, and we wanted to explore them all. They each have an interesting story!

Karen Salkin's very colorful clothing and jewelry and Easter e-word nails that...she painted herself!!! Photo by Mr. X.

Karen Salkin’s very colorful clothing and jewelry and Easter e-word nails that…she painted herself!!! Photo by Mr. X.

It’s a good rule that after you find a certain number of e-words, you have to stop. Or else you know that competitive moi would find them all!!! When we could tear ourselves away from all the stunning outdoor sitting areas, we reconvened in the beautiful and comfortable living room to open our e-words. They each had a number inside, which corresponded to a gift bag. Each bag contained such clever and useful items. I was happy to “win” (among other gifts) cute sports socks, a bunch of handy items for the car, an elegant drinking glass, and a nail polish duo, (which was perfect for me because, yes, I had once again hand-painted each nail to resemble an Easter e-word!!!)

You would think that would be enough activity for an Easter brunch, but you would be wrong—there was more!

We had been encouraged to bring to-go containers for leftovers, and you know they didn’t have to ask me twice! Mr. X and I feasted on that fare for the next two days! How cool is it that Denise thought of that beforehand?!

Mr. X throwing himself into his winnings!  Photo by Karen Salkin.

Mr. X throwing himself into his winnings! Photo by Karen Salkin.

After we all finally settled down around the massive living room coffee table and got cozy, we played an easy game that everyone participates in, (which is not always the case with games. Trust me.) It’s titled “Left, Right, Center,” and all it requires is three single dollar bills from each player, and a specific set of three dice. It’s so fun. It goes on for the perfect length of time, until only one player has a dollar left. Then he or she gets the entire pot! And I’m happy to report that this year, the winner was none other than…drumroll, please…Mr. X!!! (But I held on to his winnings for him, of course.)

Easter was on April Fool’s Day this year, so I told Steven that since his house was so inviting last year, Mr. X and I brought overnight bags with us, and we were planning to stay in one of his gorgeous guest rooms that night. I figured he’d not be pleased with that declaration, and then I would quickly say, “April Fool’s,” and everyone would have a laugh. But guess what? He said, “Yay!” He’s so adorable that he was making us not feel rude about that very rude announcement! How nice is he?! (It made us wish we were really going to spend the night there!)

So, the whole soiree finished as it began—on the cheeriest of notes. We had all been there about seven hours by the end, and yet everyone still lingered.


The bags Karen filled for Steven and Denise--blue for him and a pink-ish-red "handbag" for her!  Clever, eh?  Photo by Karen Salkin.

The bags Karen filled for Steven and Denise–blue for him and a pink-ish-red “handbag” for her! Clever, eh? Photo by Karen Salkin.

Please, people, bring gifts when you’re a guest! I always bring something to my hosts. Since I love receiving goodie bags myself, that’s what I usually try to do for others. They don’t even have to be a major production; just try to make them somewhat interesting. Since I’m known as a foodie, I try to include at least one food gift, such as a special hard-to-find condiment, and perhaps a box of candy or specialty cookies. Other good choices are small candles, a book, a piece of jewelry, or a treat for their pet (which is sooo appreciated.)

And I always include a pretty card. The smile on my interior designer host’s face when he opened his one Easter is the reason why!

Happy partying, everyone!


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