Quite often our lives are complicated. Do I do this now or later? Or at all? Where to get coffee? How should I exercise to work off the damn caffeine?

And then there are the easy things in life. The no-brainers. Oh, a new book by Kay Plunkett-Hodge? Well, of course, I simply must buy it. And use it.

And enjoy it!

Kay has written or co-authored a dozen books, most recently the wonderful Aperitivo: Drinks and Snacks for the Dolce Vita. That was last year. This now.

The Art of the Party is subtitled Drinks and Nibbles for Easy Entertaining. So very Kay. Kay is an absolute expert in creating wonderful food and beverages with grace, with elegance and, most importantly, with ease.

Are you an entertaining expert? Art will make you better. An entertaining novice and a tad nervous about you first party. Art will guarantee you success. Everyone can and will benefit from this handy little guide.

There are three sections to the book:

  • Party Basics
  • The Drinks
  • The Food

Even an entertaining pro might want to look at Party Basics. The help on how to scale up a drink recipe and when to know if you have too much food is gently yet skillfully presented.

We have all had classic drinks, but Kay is proud to present the classics with serious consideration. The Martini, the Cosmo, the Whiskey Sour — there are vibrant discussions here to make sure you hit the mark. After a dozen classics, come the new ideas. The Poinsettia is a party cocktail she calls ideal, particularly in the winter, but, gee, it sounds terrific right now: cranberry juice, Cointreau, sparkling wine and some orange or cranberry garnish. For zero-alcohol, she offers three lemonades: classic, raspberry, and basil and mint. You’d be surprised how much of a hit those would be at your party.

The Food chapter offers several varieties of party nosh:

  • Sticks, Skewers and Meaty Treats [you’ll like the sticky sausages, dipped in honey and Dijon]
  • Soups, Chips, Dip and Dippers [Green Gazpacho with Serrano Ham Crisps]
  • Fritters, Parcels and Puffs [Small Tuna Filled Pastries, a bit of tapas]
  • Bakes and Slices [Crab, Saffron and Gruyere Tart]

This is a substantial book, almost 180 pages. The recipes roll on and on. Some familiar, like Avocado Toast [but with anchovies!]. Or her Not Quite Maryland Crab Cakes where she does something half Baltimore and half New Orleans— but she does keep the Ritz crackers!

This charming work is actually a godsend. If you had to give a party each night for a month, you could and never repeat yourself and always leave your guests impressed.

You want this book. You really do. It fact, you need it. Just see the reaction to her Tuscan Bean Dip and you’ll know you now have the Party Bible you always wanted.