Though I’ve done my share of entertaining in the past, I like to turn to the experts when it comes down to executing each event without a hitch. Experts like Ngoc, who is the definition of the hostess with the mostess (and has a book to prove it!) Not only is she sharing her deep, dark entertaining secrets with us, she’s also giving away FOUR copies of her stunning new book. Trust me when I say you should read on.

SMP: So tell us, what’s it REALLY like to write a book?
Ngoc: Well, let me start off by saying this: it’s nothing like you see in the movies! In March of 2009, I told my then Boyfriend, now Husband, Albert, that I had an idea in the middle of the night. That idea was that of a book. Not just any book, but a book about celebrations and how anyone can take a simple inspiration and turn it in to a fantastic event. I brought one of my best friends from college, Tram Le, on to do the recipes.

We started thinking of ideas and going back and forth with concepts, and then a few months after starting, Tram was in a terrible car accident while 7 months pregnant. The book was put on the back burner, while we all focused on Tram and her recovery. Over the next few months, Tram began her slow and strenuous recovery, and then, in February in 2011, a publishing company contacted us and said they wanted to publish our book. It took some time for all of us to come to the decision that we would continue with the book. I started writing and Tram started cooking, and we took off from there. 

SMP: Well I, personally, am so glad everything fell into place. So you’re basically the definition of the hostess with the mostest. Could you share some of your favorite entertaining tips?
Ngoc: Well, being an event planner, I naturally love to plan things. The best and easiest way to help you entertain is to plan. Plan, plan, plan! Make a timeline of how long you have until your party, and then fill in the details that need to get done before a certain time. This will help you in not feeling so overwhelmed when looking at any party or celebrations. Plan out trips to the grocery store, plan a time to look for décor, plan an outing to BevMo and get ideas for cocktails. Planning is the key to any successful party.

SMP: As a total type-A, the idea of a last minute party completely freaks me out. Any tips for a seamless evening on the fly?
Ngoc: If someone springs a last minute party on you, the best tips for a seamless evening are first of all, stay calm! It’s easy to panic and wonder if the baby sitter is available on a last-minute notice, but by staying calm, you will be able to think things through clearly and concisely, and you will often think up of some great ideas in those first few moments. Another tip is to be confident in your abilities. Even if this is your first event-fake it ‘till you make it! No one has to know that you just threw together that Sangria from the fruit that was supposed to go in your kids food (hahaha!).

SMP: I love it! So what are some things you always keep on hand, just in case guests make an impromptu appearance? 
Ngoc: One of the easiest thing to keep on hand in case of impromptu guests is cheese, crackers, and a little bit of meat. Your friends will be so impressed if you whip out some mozzarella and prosciutto after a day of shopping. Another easy to prepare item is Sangria. There is always that bottle of wine and some kind of fruit in your kitchen. Chop them up and mix them together, and bam! You have a tasty cocktail to impress your guests with!

SMP: Do you have any predictions for upcoming party trends?
Ngoc: There are a few things I am obsessed with right now that I think will be taking off this year and one of those things is cotton candy! Cupcakes? Been there. Macaroons? Done that. Cotton candy is where it’s at! You can give them out as favors, or pour some vodka over it and you have a magical martini! Another upcoming trend is the color Radiant Orchid, which is Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year. It can be used in so many ways other than just the color of you Bridesmaid’s dresses and flowers. You can use Radiant Orchid for everything from your pedicure to the food you serve at dinner.

SMP: What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to party planning?
Ngoc: I think that the biggest mistake people make when it comes to party planning is over doing it on the decor but not thinking of the logistic details. Having when and how everything is going to get to the party is just as important asall of the details that go in to the party.

SMP: And before we let you go, what are a few things every hostess should know?
Ngoc: There are a few things that every hostess should know. Knowing how to make at least one cocktail is very important. And having a few others in your arsenal is also a smart idea. Another thing that is very important is that no event is perfect. There will be flaws: the cake will be late, or the caterer will drop a plate of food on the floor, but the best thing to take away from that is to have fun. Those stories of the missteps are usually the funniest and best memories of your party, even though it may not seem like it at the time.

And it gets better: we are giving away not one, not two, but FOUR copies of Ngoc’s book, Inspired Celebrations (cue excitement!)

To enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photography: Caroline Tran Photography | Design & Styling: Ngoc Nguyen Lay | Author: Skybox Event Productions | Author: Tram Le | Bridal Shower & Graduation Design & Styling: Sonia Sharma Events | Buy The Book: Ngoc Nguyen Lay | Camp Out & Oktoberfest Design & Styling: Lovely Jubilee | Cocktail & Engagement Party Design & Styling: The Special Day Event Planning and Design | Movie Night & Birthday Party Design & Styling: Grand Soirees Event Design & Coordination | Tailgate Party Design & Home Sweet Home Styling: Utterly Engaged | Tailgate Party Design & Home Sweet Home Styling: DL/sh Design | Thanksgiving & Holidays Design & Styling: The Flower Tray