“InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round” by the Editors of InStyle, Oxmoor House, $30, 192 pages, hardcover

In south Louisiana, the holiday party season stretches far beyond New Year’s Day. After all, Carnival season is just getting started.

Anyone hoping to host festive get-togethers without a lot of stress will want to take a look at “InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round” by the Editors of InStyle. It is more than an attractive cookbook (although it’s that, too). It’s a blueprint for throwing great parties.

The book includes menus for 15 parties from dinner parties and Fourth of July picnics to a game day fiesta and a beach house lunch. The cookbook covers basics like what information to include in the party invitation, stocking the bar, planning the menu, what to keep in a party-ready pantry, setting up a cheese board, and arranging an attractive, functional table. It also has ideas for setting the gathering’s vibe, noting you have to think about furniture placement, lighting, music and flowers.

Side Dish: Recipe for Fizzy Ginger Punch

Each party chapter includes the menu, along with one or two recipes for signature drinks, plus tips on designing the invitation and décor, and selecting the playlist. There are also a party countdown checklist and shortcut ideas. For example, for ushering in the new year, “InStyle Parties” suggests a tablescape glimmering with gold touches and indulging guests with sparkling wines, hors d’oeuvres sprinkled with caviar and mini desserts with a bit of chocolate.

The book closes with resource lists for ordering food, hard-to-find ingredients, decorations and party supplies. It is illustrated with full-color photographs.

With “InStyle Parties” as a guide, it should be easy to host fun, memorable celebrations.

Happy New Year!


Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at sonnierfood@gmail.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.