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Bethenny's Evening Appetizer Party

Bethenny Frankel, The Real Housewives of New York City star and natural foods chef to the stars, knows a thing or two about throwing a light, easy and chic happy hour.

My Party Lines: Cocktail party food should always be bite-size. I believe if you make things that are simple and upscale, people will appreciate it. I always add a healthy twist to my menu, so my appetizer selection might include Steak Bites, whole grain chips and dip, and my SkinnyGirl cupcakes and cocktails. My favorite entertaining shortcut is creating a signature cocktail (like a SkinnyGirl Frangelini) ahead of time and serving it in a pitcher. It's important to decorate your self-serve bar. I like to use a galvanized tub for bottles, and rocks glasses for drinks. For the best atmosphere, I rely on hurricane lamps and candles because mood lighting is the secret to a successful party. While you'll never hear "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang or "Hip to Be Square" by Huey Lewis and the News, I always play Rihanna's "Umbrella" -- oh, and I always dance at my parties.





tips + how-tos

Bethenny's "SkinnyGirl" approach isn't just for calories! She also lightens up ...

The workload
Decrease dirty dishes by serving handheld desserts, like sorbet in hollowed-out lemon halves.

The decor
Go white all the way: linens, plates and napkins. White serving trays enhance food's color, too.

The mood
A theme will perk up any party. Bethenny loves a south-of-the-border feel, with (low-cal) margaritas, and mortars and pestles for guacamole.

The guilt
A crudités platter of pesto dip and veggies like asparagus and yellow squash is tastier (and still as healthy as) the old carrots-and-celery number.

The stress
Invite guests you know will mesh, but not too many (12 max), so that you don't feel obliged to "work the crowd."