Photo by: Chelsea McNamara/Martha Stewart Living — HandoutChecking in with Martha Stewart is always entertaining.
So with spring dinners and Easter and Passover celebrations upon us, we got Stewart on the phone for a few tips and opinions on how to throw a great party.
Stewart, 74, will be busy this weekend preparing for her traditional Easter brunch for family and friends at her Bedford, N.Y., estate. You can bet that thousands of daffodils and narcissus will be blooming in her garden. And, of course, her rooms will be filled with antique baskets lined with moss, colored eggs and other items from her vast collection of Easter memorabilia.
"Last year, I had a big Easter brunch for around 50. But this year it's going to be a bit smaller," Stewart says. Her planned menu: poached eggs, kielbasa, biscuits and probably a ham. "And all my decorations," Stewart adds, referring to her vintage chicks, tin rabbit molds, Ukrainian painted eggs and faux bois eggs that are all carefully organized, packed and stored in her mammoth basement.
An Easter egg hunt is always part of the weekend festivities, with eggs hidden in different pockets of her 153-acre estate, Cantitoe Corners.
Stewart spoke with me earlier this month by phone from her New York office. Here is an edited version of our conversation.
Q: How are you getting ready for Easter and spring?
A: I go all out with spring flowers and little plants you can buy this time of year. I love serving things like beautiful asparagus and kielbasa, Easter ham and poached salmon. Artichokes are good. Fresh things that are just appealing and friendly and good this time of year.
Q: What's a good centerpiece for this time of year?
A: Speckled Easter eggs in a basket are nice. A rabbit collection is a nice thing, if you have a rabbit collection. You can buy chocolate bunnies, both brown and white chocolate, and let them run down the table in a row. These are very cute, and then you can eat them and give them away for the kids.
Q: How are millennials doing on the entertaining front?
A: They are trying to learn, and they can still learn a lot. They are trying to cook. They are trying to entertain, but all very simply. Their homes are so edited. I am amazed at how cleverly they are editing all the things they have.
Q: What if you have only plain white china?
A: Add color with a beautiful place mat in another color such as robin's-egg blue or spring green. That would be beautiful. You can buy a couple of yards of fabric and rip it into rectangles and fringe the edges. You'll have a bunch of beautiful place mats. You can make napkins that way, too. I have drawers of them I have made by tearing and fringing.
Q: How do you throw a good dinner party?
A: Start out with really good food, and match the people to the food. The food and the guests make a success of it, whether you serve a simple soup or a little homemade pizza. It's so delicious. Add a fun dessert, and you have a great dinner.
Q: How do you feel about paper napkins when you entertain?
A: No paper. I am totally against paper unless you are having a bagel for breakfast on the run. I use cloth napkins or beautiful old dish towels that are ironed. I have a huge collection of fine linens, too.
Q: People are so busy today but still want to get together. Is it okay to serve takeout when you entertain?
A: I think it is perfectly all right. Many of us are too busy now to cook, and you can be very creative with things you can buy. There are a great many takeout places that will prepare beautiful things for you.
Q: What if you are nervous about entertaining?
A: I don't think people are as nervous as they used to be. What they are nervous about is inviting me. I am not regularly invited to dinner parties at people's houses. But I really like going because I like to see what people are doing and what they are up to.