Kate Hudson’s new coffee-table tome, Pretty Fun, is all about making gatherings — big or small — feel really special. Her philosophy toward hosting is “nothing too perfect, nothing too fussy, just the right amount of attention to detail to look great, but not so stuffy you can’t enjoy yourself.” Here are five tips from the book to make your next dinner party memorable without spending a ton of time or money:
1. Keep things loose by mixing high and low. Hudson loves to serve pizza on fine china, chili in an elegant copper pot and beer in crystal champagne glasses — or champagne in pretty plastic tumblers. It’s about creating a space where guests feel comfortable, while also making the event feel momentous.
2. You don’t have to spend a lot to make your party look good. Paper plates are perfectly acceptable (and will even feel polished), Hudson says, if they’re coordinated with the rest of the theme. For example, there’s no need for fine linens — just measure the length and width of your table and make a quick trip to the fabric store. You’ll need 6–8 inches extra in width for a shorter, casual look, and an extra 15 inches to have your tablecloth drop low to the ground for a more formal look.
3. Save time by mixing homemade food with store-bought. Hudson suggests making one or two dishes from scratch, and then buying the rest. Place grocery store purchases like dips and salads into pretty serving tableware to make them feel special.
4. And… it’s okay to serve the same main over and over again. Hudson calls this your signature dish. “Figure out one… that you can make so incredibly well that everyone will start salivating for it the moment they see your invitation.”
5. Say yes when people offer to contribute. Ask guests to bring a side, dessert or beer. It helps cut prep time for you and makes guests feel like they’ve helped make the party a success. Win, win.