Gracious Napa Valley hostess (and Lonny November feature subject
) Alexis Swanson Traina shares her strategies for three different party scenarios, from a whimsical birthday fête to a casual fall tasting.
Wine Tasting with Friends
“Because wine tasting can be fussy, I like to serve casually, using stemless Riedel glasses or crystal-glass Dixie cups,” Traina says. “For fall, I’d put out a cheese platter or pair my newest red-wine obsession with a slew of exotic bars of dark chocolate. For summer, I’d serve a dry rosé with fried chicken or deviled eggs.” Grown-Up Dinner Party
“I live to entertain with a nostalgic spirit—I love old-fashioned music and cocktails. I’m a fan of all-American menus, so I serve dishes such as meatloaf, potpies, crawfish, and crabs. I’m always on the hunt for intriguing ways to resurrect old recipes. From there, it’s about adding charming entertainment: an accordion player, or a pianist on an old upright piano. For ambience, I’m a sucker for candlelight—preferably from candelabras.” Birthday Gathering for Family
“Cakes are such big business in our house—and we work with Perfect Endings
, the most amazing bakery. They can create anything. We’ve had quirky, elaborate birthday cakes in the shape of pirate ships, jewelry boxes, the Golden Gate Bridge, a favorite slipper, hardback books, baby bassinettes… Give my family any reason to celebrate and we’ll find the right cake for the occasion!”