Exclusive - Martina McBride: Hosting From the Heart, Part 3
When we recently sat down to talk to superstar Martina McBride about her latest hit “Marry Me,” we got the inside scoop on another one of her talents - event planning. In the first portion of our three-part exclusive series, Martina shared her thoughts on the single “Marry Me,” her friendship with duet partner Pat Monahan of Train and reflected on her own wedding. Meanwhile, in our second installment of our series, Martina took us inside some of her events and revealed where she finds party planning inspiration.
In our third and final part of our conversation, Martina talks about some of the keys to being a great host, tells us which one of her dishes is her most popular and more.
What is the most important thing you must do as a host?
Oh, there are so many things. First of all, the planning is the most important thing. I don’t think there’s any such thing as effortless entertaining. I think that you really have to put in a lot of thought to what you’re going to do so that when people show up you’re not stressed and you have everything planned out. I think I plan, but then you know at the end of the day you’re still running around like crazy trying to get everything done.
I think that just being able to roll with the flow [is key]. You know, when you show up at somebody’s house for a dinner party or a cocktail party or whatever, the hostess really sets the tone for the whole party, so if they’re stressed out or if they’re upset that just translates to everybody.
Like, one time I gave this party and I had my band and crew over. I had made all of this food, but I hadn’t really planned for how many people were there, so halfway through everybody was standing in line with their plate and halfway though we ran out of food. Luckily, I had some frozen pizzas in the freezer and I just popped those in the oven and the rest of us just ate frozen pizza but if I had freaked out about it or had really been upset then everyone would have been upset and it would have ruined the party. So, it’s just kind of planning ahead and going with the flow.
Speaking of food, what would you say is your most popular dish?
I make a chicken and sausage gumbo that every one seems to enjoy. We had a Christmas party last year and it was kind of more of an open house, so I made a couple of big pots of soup and just sort of had them in the kitchen where people could serve themselves and that seemed to go over really well.
What about having a signature drink for your party?
I think its fun to have a signature drink. Like if you’re going to have an Italian dinner, you might make a Negroni or like a Bellini or something that you have a tray of.
For me, one of my things is I have that moment where I can’t decide what I want, so if you just have something ready and you offer it, usually people will take that first and then it just skips the whole “I don’t know what I want. Do I want white wine? Do I want…?” Its fun to have a signature tray of little drinks that everybody can enjoy, and it just kind of sets the tone for the party.
As a host, how do you make people feel welcome and make sure people feel included?
I think there are a lot of little tricks. It depends on the kind of party. If you’re gonna have eight people over for a dinner, usually people come in and the first thing you do is…it’s really important to greet them at the door. You bring them into your home.
I always have a vibe going where it’s like low lights and candles and music. In the wintertime, there’s a fire in the fireplace. I just want it to feel cozy. I think that people coming into a place that feels cozy is the first thing that makes them feel comfortable. Then, you ask them if you want something to drink and you bring them in the kitchen and you start talking.
I’m not very good at having people come in and kind of cook with me. A lot of things I’ve read are like “Leave a couple of things undone so your guest feel like they’re part of the preparation.” I’m terrible at that. [laughs] By the time I explain it to somebody…I don’t know…I guess I’m just the type of person that needs to do it myself. But, that’s one way I guess you could do that, just include them.
One time we had a couple over and we made this kind of labor intensive recipe which is green corn tamales which is a Mexican dish. Part of the party was we just made them all together because it has a lot of steps and that was kind of fun. It was the thing we did while we were sort of talking and stuff and then we ate the dinner together.
But, I just think that mostly it’s your attitude. If you are welcoming and warm and happy to have people there - you have to really project that you are happy to have people in your home - I think that’s the first step.
As far as your next party goes, what is some theme that you haven’t done yet that you’ve always wanted to do?
We have this oak tree in our front yard that’s about 350 years old. It’s amazing. It’s huge and it’s got these really huge branches. It’s just magnificent.
I’ve always wanted to host a like a 40-people Italian dinner underneath the oak tree. I want to hang lights from it and just have this big, huge long table and just kind of have an Italian feast. That’s something I’ve been dreaming about for years. Maybe I’ll get to do that someday.
You can find Martina McBride’s current single “Marry Me” on her latest album Eleven. For tour dates and more, visit MartinaMcBride.com.
Image: Republic Nashville
Nikita Palmer (@RTNowRadio) for Cumulus Media © 2012