Dita Von Teese is famous for being the queen of striptease, but when she’s not seducing audiences around the world with her breathtaking burlesque acts, she enjoys fulfilling another passion: entertaining guests from the privacy of her home.
The 41-year-old performer, whose been the global brand ambassadress for French spirit Cointreau for nearly seven years, enjoys spending her free time away from the stage and instead in the kitchen, where she whips up tantalizing dishes and drinks for her closest friends.
“You’re in my lair of seduction,” purrs Von Teese when describing her Los Angeles-based home where she recently hosted a virtual holiday soiree alongside cocktail expert Kyle Ford. From the hot pink wallpaper to the jeweled crystal, Von Teese knows how to entice anyone to attend one of her many parties.
And just in time for the holiday season, she’s revealing some of her go-to entertaining tips, as well as her preferred cocktail recipes, to make your next get-together just as glamorous.
Always Have a Theme
Who says you need to wait for a special occasion just to throw a party? According to Von Teese, a creative theme is enough to get guests coming over. “I like to have classes for my friends. So recently I invited all my girlfriends over and had a hula-hooping lesson here at my house,” she says. “I set up a Cointreau Rickey Bar and all my friends were really excited by it.” She also throws potluck parties with different themes to complement her menu and drinks. From aSaturday night with the girls featuring Mexican cuisine to a singles mixer during brunch, the possibilities are endless. “I’m famous for having these kinds of parties called the Garden Arts, where my friends bring in some kind of artistic endeavors,” she states. “I like to keep things lively, fun and interesting.”
Know How Many People Are Coming Over
It may be tempting to invite everyone you know, but to ensure a successful party that everyone will enjoy, also know how many guests are coming over in advance. “I like to have big parties in my house sometimes and invite all my closest friends,” she dishes. “I usually tend to only invite people I really know so that I can always have a good time, keep my space protected and private, and not have to worry about strangers coming in, breaking things, or going through my underwear drawer.”
Keep it Simple
Whether you’re opting for a casual get-together or a swanky soiree, there’s no need to overwhelm yourself with every little detail. Von Teese says that when it comes to your decor, dishes, and even drinks, always keep it simple, which will save you time on cleaning afterwards. “All the appetizers I choose are always simple, and I like to stay focused on having a few good quality products,” she explains. “I love to have all these fruits and garnishes on display. It looks really nice with candlelight. I also like to cut flowers and place them in these little vintage vases.”
Prepare Your Favorite Treats
When it comes to parties, there’s one thing everyone will have in mind: the grub. To avoid spending laborious hours in a stuffy kitchen, always prepare your treats the night before. Von Teese’s go-to appetizers are deviled eggs, which she says are found in all of her vintage recipe books. “I also love to do fondue, either cheese or chocolate, because it’s really fun and it’s a bit retro-style,” says the hostess. “People usually just throw nuts or serve a cheese platter, but I like to serve things that are really fun and exciting, things that people will talk about later.”
Invest in Beautiful Glassware
You may have prepared your famous signature dish and even managed to learn a cocktail recipe or two, but to really give your party’s atmosphere some style, it’s just as important to present dazzling glassware — and you don’t need to empty out your wallet for the best. Von Teese, an avid antique collector, prefers going to flea markets and checking out eBay for her sets. “I love having mixed and matched glasses so people don’t forget which one is theirs,” she says. “I collect a lot of glasses from the 1950s and ‘60s. I also like to give people different options for their glass based on their personality.” Can’t find the right cup for your cocktail? Von Teese advises to simply pour them in a champagne flute, which is how she usually prefers to enjoy her libations.
Don’t Forget Place Cards
“I love place cards because I always like to plan in advance who’s going to be sitting next to each other, such as those who don’t normally get to see each other,” she says. “I write them myself and try to work on my penmanship.” Another major perk? Place cards encourage people to mingle, getting to better know your other guests. In addition, it develops organization, rather than leaving your loved ones to sit wherever they want in your home.
Set Up a ‘Cocktail Buffet’
No party is complete without cocktails, but who wants to spend time shaking and stirring every single drink? To give herself extra time to spend with guests, Von Teese likes to set up a “cocktail buffet,” which gives visitors the opportunity to customize their own libations. “I like to get pretty little antique dishes and place different kinds of fruit, mint, and basil,” she explains. “I like to make the first cocktail for my guest and show them how I do it. Then I let them choose their own garnishes and have them make their cocktails themselves.” For thirst-quenching drinks your guests will appreciate, it’s always important to have premier liquors and fresh produce. “Your cocktails are only as good as your ingredients,” warns Ford.
Don’t want to set up your own cocktail bar or “buffet”? No problem — simply pre-batch your cocktails and serve them in a crystal carafe. Guests will be able to pour for themselves, giving you more space to entertain and serve appetizers. However, always make sure you have plenty of your preferred spirit and garnishes on hand in case your batch runs out before the party is over.
Pay Attention to Lighting
Just like with her shows, Von Teese always pays close attention to one underrated feature at her get-togethers. “Lighting is a good place to (help) set the tone,” states Von Teese. She recommends using scented candles that “suit the season,” or using dimmer switches.
Give Your Couture a Retro Flair
“As a host, if I go through all the trouble of presenting a beautiful party, then I like to take the time to get dressed up for it,” Von Teese explains, adding that she prefers being “overdressed.” And while getting your appetizers and cocktails ready may take away the necessary time needed to hunt down a suitable outfit from your closet, you can make the search easier by opting for a retro-inspired style. “I like these hostess gowns, which were very popular in the ‘30s and ‘40s,” she says. “They were pajamas, basically, but really glamorous pajamas you could wear that (also) made you presentable. I collect them and have a whole closet’s worth.”
Personalize Your Parting Gift
Don’t be afraid to be extra generous with your guests, especially when it comes to showing your appreciation for their arrival. As a parting gift, Von Teese likes to create a recipe cards or mini books featuring step-by-step guides on how to prepare the dishes and drinks served at the party, which can be printed from your computer.