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Sonia Checchia's tips for elevating the at-home party.

Small Bites for a Small Group, Spring Edition

by Sonia Checchia

Hosting a cocktail or happy hour this spring? I got you covered. Call it what you will: Apéro, Apéritif, Aperitivo, Happy Hour, Cocktail Hour, etc… I call it easy entertaining. No need to plan for a full meal, and the expectation is that your guests will clear out in 1-2 hours. We recently hosted a spring gathering for a small group—about 10 friends total. It was on a weeknight and started at … Read More »

How to Host an Iftar Dinner

by Sonia Checchia

Here’s what you need to know if you are inviting friends who are observing Ramadan traditions. We recently had the honor of hosting an iftar dinner. This was a gathering of friends with some connection to the Middle East, but not everyone was Muslim or observant. Still, Ramadan is a time to gather and be … Read More »

Seven Wonders of the World

by Sonia Checchia

A 7th Birthday Party Full of Adventure. Designing a party around a concept that has never been “done” in party form means that the sky’s the limit. In this case, the world was our oyster. For this seventh birthday celebration, we explored the “Seven Wonders of the World.” The birthday girl greeted guests at the … Read More »

Cookbook Club

by Sonia Checchia

Here's the book club you need to start. For years, I have been hearing people talk about ‘cookbook clubs,’ but I have never had the opportunity to join one.  The idea behind a cookbook club is that each month we pick a cookbook, and everyone brings a dish (or two, if you have the energy) from the book. Then … Read More »

Welcome to the "New Kids on the Block"

by Sonia Checchia

An 80s Glam Party to Welcome New Neighbors. When I started to plan a gathering to welcome our new neighbors, the band “New Kids on the Block” came to me—and stuck like an earworm. As it turned out, a 1980s party was the perfect theme to welcome the newcomers to the block! Hosting a 1980s … Read More »

Making a Guest List? Here's What You Need to Know

by Sonia Checchia

“Wish we had more time to chat—every time he has a party I think, I didn’t get to talk to anyone!” This is the text I received from a friend who hosted a big, backyard celebration with 30+ people this past weekend. Oftentimes, at big parties like this one, the guests get to enjoy each other’s company and have wonderful… Read More »

A Cat Paw-ty for a Ninth Birthday

by Sonia Checchia

Because Cats Have Nine Lives. Cats are having a moment, and there is no shortage of cat decorations and toys ready to plug and play into a party. We had the opportunity for feline festivities as part of a ninth birthday, because, as they say, cats have nine lives. As far as clever party themes go, it’s an arched-back cat… Read More »

A Summer Pizza Party Plus Menu

by Sonia Checchia

You know my motto when it comes to kids’ parties? Feed the parents! We hosted a kids’ birthday party with a purr-fect cat theme, and well, cat food was not so appetizing. I did set out some Goldfish crackers, but aside from that strayed from the theme… How do I plan a menu for a kids’ party? I do much… Read More »

Why Your Party Needs a Quiet Corner

by Sonia Checchia

How the savvy host can design a party for all to enjoy. As much as I love throwing a party, I recognize that parties are not for everyone. At children’s parties, there are often moments of overwhelm and tantrums. You don’t know who it will hit and when, but it’s a guarantee at a certain age. Adults get better at… Read More »

Ten Lessons from a Decade of Dinner Parties

by Sonia Checchia

An abridged version of this essay ran in Fort Wayne Magazine (May 2023) When my husband and I moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, more than ten years ago, we knew only the people he had met in the job-interview process. We set out to make friends with a simple strategy: the dinner party. Since we did not know anyone, we … Read More »

An Early Spring Small-Bites Menu for a Crowd

by Sonia Checchia

There are people who delight at the thought of grazing over small bites, no fork required, and others who want to fill a plate, sit, and enjoy it. I am the latter, but sometimes the little bites have a place… As was the case for the fundraiser for one of our local government superstars that we hosted on a chilly … Read More »

How to Host an At-Home Political Fundraiser

by Sonia Checchia

You’re hosting a political fundraiser in your home. The candidate’s office is super organized, and you know how to throw a party, so what can go wrong? Perhaps it’s less about what can go wrong than it is about what your role is as host for this unique kind of event. While the ultimate goal of a fundraiser is to … Read More »

How to Get Better at Hosting

by Sonia Checchia

It’s all about the plan. There’s a myth out there that you are either born with some type of Martha Stewart crafty-cooking-hostess gene, or you’re out of luck! At nearly every dinner or event we host, people often confide in me that, “They could never do this,” ‘this’ meaning cook for a crowd or host a big event. Well, I have … Read More »

Fall-afel Fest 2022

by Sonia Checchia

An autumn celebration. Inventing holidays is one of my favorite party tricks. There is always an excuse to get together, and “fall-afel” the first week of autumn is as good as any! The beauty of inventing a holiday is that you own it. There is no script to follow, and people don’t know what to expect—which means carte blanche to … Read More »

Non-Candy Treats for a Piñata

by Sonia Checchia

Piñatas are three-in-one fun: wild excitement for the kids, entertainment for the adults who are watching, and a package for party favors. The only negative is all that candy! Here are some non-candy filler ideas. Non-candy treats for a piñata Retro toys such as trolls Pens, pencils, and pencil sharpeners Balls, such as super bounce balls Tattoos Small toys such … Read More »

Scones

by Sonia Checchia

Want to get better at baking? Start with scones. Scones are my recommendation to anyone who wants to get into baking. Here are 5 reasons why, and 5 recipes to try. Convinced? Good. Now, one thing you need to know is that not all scones are created equal. No worries, though, because I have sifted through (pun intended!) many a … Read More »

A Back-to-School Party

by Sonia Checchia

It’s that time of year when the smell of No. 2 Pencils is in the air, and down the hall you hear the squeak of new sneakers. Back-to-school season is a great milestone to commemorate both for parents and kids. It’s also one of those transitions that can be really rough! Did you know that anxiety and excitement are elements … Read More »

Spectacular Salads for Any Party

by Sonia Checchia

Five salads that can sit, but still stand out. One of my favorite parts of party-planning is actually after the party. It’s fun to hear the chatter after an event. The things people found funny or the things people appreciated most. I also love the requests for recipes. It’s a feedback loop after all! You know which recipes I am … Read More »

How to Fool-Proof Your Party Plan

by Sonia Checchia

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but no event is perfect. And perfection is NOT the goal. When it comes to dinner parties or any at-home event, there are certainly ways to plan for success, and as a good project manager would do, to mitigate risk. Because there’s always something! You made everything in advance, you gave yourself … Read More »

Party 101: Tools You Cannot Host Without

by Sonia Checchia

How to stay organized while hosting an event, big or small. How many times have you prepared something only to realize, as the guests leave or while washing dishes, that you forgot to serve it? I have also forgotten to give out favors or do a planned activity. It’s one of those “duh” moments that can happen — especially when … Read More »

A Tom8o Party

by Sonia Checchia

An eighth birthday celebration for a tomato-loving kid. A kid’s summer birthday party designed around tomatoes? Absolutely! One that would delight the kids and keep the parents’ eyes off of their phones? Of course! Here’s what we came up with… The Activities The children ranged in age from under one year old to 8, and we knew we had to … Read More »

Party 101: A Long Table

by Sonia Checchia

Tips for a large sit-down dinner The Challenge: You want to have twenty friends over for a sit-down dinner. There’s no room inside the house that is big enough to seat everyone, and anyway it’s summer, so who wants to be inside? Added challenge: You want it to look nice. That means no paper/plastic, and an overall cohesive look. The … Read More »

Party 101: How to Plan a Menu When You Don't Know Your Guests

by Sonia Checchia

What to serve when you don’t know your guests well? Three tips. Menu planning is one of my favorite things to do. (I wish I had the same enthusiasm for weekly meal planning, but that’s another story.) It’s a research project, an excuse to try new things, and it’s creative. However, many people have shared with me that menu planning … Read More »

Party 101: Drink Station

by Sonia Checchia

So the party is at your house? Here’s how to set up the drinks station Setting up a drink station at your party allows people to serve themselves and creates a conversation spot. Here are some tips that will help you prepare in advance, so you can enjoy the gathering once the guests arrive—and enable self-serve vs. host-bartending. (How any … Read More »

Brunch is Best

by Sonia Checchia

A great way to start the day and the easiest meal to host. A friend recently commented that brunch is her event of choice when entertaining. It’s a smart move – especially if you don’t mind waking up a bit early to prep. Why is brunch best? Let me count the ways. Hesitant to Entertain? Three Reasons Why Brunch Is … Read More »

Boogie Party

by Sonia Checchia

A dance party for cold and flu season (pre-pandemic edition) This party started out as a dance party for cold and flu season. The idea was, why not teach kids about germs and the importance of Vitamin C, while dancing to some good music? Get it? The word “boogie” can go either way. It went down in history as either … Read More »

Cinco de What?

by Sonia Checchia

A playful fifth birthday party. Yes, we know the actual meaning of the holiday Cinco de Mayo, but we could not help ourselves. For this sweet girl’s fifth birthday, we mixed it up a bit. The “Cinco de Carma” celebration was a Mexican-inspired family birthday dinner, complete with flower crowns for the girls and a piñata. The handmade invitation set … Read More »

Party Favor Ideas Beyond the Goodie Bag

by Sonia Checchia

Still stumped? Think thoughtful, useful, and unexpected. When your love language is gifts, and you avoid clutter and want to do your part for the earth and generally have everything you need…how do you come up with party favor ideas? Well, we have a few tips. For starters: think beyond the “goodie bag.” While we do sometimes assemble a few … Read More »

Of Course We Had a Ball

by Sonia Checchia

A farewell party to delight big and little kids When your friends are moving, and leaving for a job at Ball State University, (it’s in Muncie, Indiana – great school – look it up!) you go all out with the balls. This was an outdoor farewell dinner for four families. Nearly half of the guests were kids (from 1 to … Read More »

Venetian Carnival

by Sonia Checchia

An at-home celebration with mask-making, storytelling, and a gondola When you live in the Midwest, you have to get super creative about enjoying winter. Having something to look forward to in the dark winter months makes all the difference. The plan for this Venetian Carnival (“Carnevale”) party was born. The guests were classmates (ages 3 to 6), and their families … Read More »

Buffet Table Setting 101

by Sonia Checchia

You have done all the cooking, now how do you lay it all out? It’s no surprise that I love tablescapes. A beautifully set table draws your guests in, and flirts with them. Yes, you read that right. I want someone to approach the table and think, “What? all this is for me? Wow.” It’s a heart-to-heart connection to tell … Read More »

About Sonia

Sonia Checchia is a party evangelist. After years of hearing guests at parties look around and say, “I could never do this,” she set out to create how to’s—to break it down and prove yes you can. Follow her on Instagram for tips on elevating the at-home party. Read more.

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