Dina Manzo: You’re invited to her party

“Dina’s Party” premieres this Saturday at 10 p.m. on HGTV.

The former ‘Real Housewife’ comes back on TV with a series about her event-planning business//Her best party-planning advice — and tips for avoiding drama (she would know!)

On “Dina’s Party,” premiering this Saturday on HGTV, viewers will see Dina Manzo planning fabulous fetes — everything from a rodeo-themed going-away party to a Copacabana-themed housewarming — that are sure to be buzzed about long after the last slice of cake is served. We got Manzo’s top tips for throwing a super soiree of your own.

Create a “wow factor” at the entrance

Get the party started in a fun way by having a celebrity impersonator greet guests or hiring a “living statue,” Manzo advises. “If you just have a simple cocktail party and you have that one element that greets people when they walk in the door, that’s the first impression and people are gonna be taking that with them throughout the whole party. If there’s somewhere you could put your money, I would suggest putting it in the entrance.”

Plan activities — but don’t stress about following a schedule
“For me, it’s a play-it-by-ear thing. It really depends on who’s at the party, what they wanna do, how the party’s moving along. Know your guests, know what they’re really into and sometimes you just gotta wing it. You can have some kind of outline but there should be some room for flexibility depending on how the party’s actually going. Never ever stop a great party to do a little interactive something if you don’t think it’s gonna be as exciting as people dancing.”

Get creative with food
Keep the bites small and easy to serve. “I would just recommend keeping the appetizers like something you could eat with one hand, because if people are gonna be walking around and mingling, you know a drink is gonna be in another hand. So nothing too messy, nothing that takes a plate and a spoon — try to keep it to plain appetizers that girls don’t have to worry about getting in their teeth. Just keep in mind, again, your guests that are coming and the flow of the party. You don’t want to have people have to find a table and sit down to eat their appetizers. But more importantly, as far as catering is concerned, don’t just plop your dishes down: build up levels, create some interest on the table. If you can theme the food to the event, go for it, and don’t forget to incorporate the color scheme or the design scheme or the theme. Keep it interesting: It makes the food even that much better. If you’re serving something as simple as wine and cheese, if you build up levels and create some interest it’s gonna be more of an experience.”

Avoid the drama
“There’s all kinds of drama. There’s drama in set-up, because of course things don’t come in always as you planned. You may wind up with pink roses the day of instead of red and you can’t change it. At the end of the day, it’s just a party, we’re not saving lives here, and everyone’s there to just have a really good time, so keep that in mind. Of course, alcohol levels, try to keep that under control as much as you possibly can. I always make sure I talk to the bartender [to] give us a heads up if there’s someone drinking too much so we can address the situation.”

Mad libs with Manzo

No party is complete without…
“Great food in abundance. As great as the décor and the whole experience can be, you don’t want people leaving hungry and having to go through a drive-through on the way home.”

The first thing I ask myself when planning a party is…
“What is the guest of honor really about. For me, it’s not about just putting on another pretty party: I wanna make it about who the party’s for, so I try to get into their heads as much as possible.”

The last finishing touch I put on my party is…
“The obvious is always lighting those candles, but in all honesty, it’s just a deep breath and a smile because you’re there to get together and have a good time, and anything that goes wrong, most people aren’t gonna notice.”


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