Kate Middleton's younger sister Pippa, the one who "stole the show" as the maid of honor at the Royal Wedding in the spring of 2011, wants to help you throw a party.
Pippa's new book, "Celebrate," features seasonal themed parties with fashionable photos full of rosy cheeked children enjoying themselves and, of course, the perfect tresses and dimpled smile of the author herself. London's Daily Mail online offers a sneak peak at her Halloween and Bonfire Night chapters, and their accompanying recipes.
"The book is designed to be a comprehensive guide to home entertaining, based on my experience in my family’s party business Party Pieces, and work for London-based events company Table Talk," writes Pippa in the introduction of "Celebrate." "It is a useful and practical journey into British-themed occasions and I hope it offers welcome inspiration and ideas, most of which needn’t leave you alarmingly out of pocket."
A quick perusal of the opening chapters of "Celebrate" shows that Pippa knows her audience. The ones who trail her every move in the tabloids (some estimate she is photographed up to 400 times a day by paparazzi), follow her fashion trends, and gossip about her social life. Essentially, celebrity chasers with the attention span of a gnat.
Pippa's recipes directly reflect who she is and where she is in her life – a young, single, urban woman with a background in party planning who happens to be experiencing unprecedented global attention. The recipes in "Celebrate" are simple and yet they are more creative than just pouring out a bag of chips and popping open a jar of salsa. Think: Witches' fingers cheese straws for Halloween and red and orange stuffed peppers for Bonfire night.
"Celebrate" includes a nod toward British traditions, too, with Toad-in-the-hole casserole and parkin, "a hearty, comforting ginger cake made with oatmeal and black treacle, parkin originated in the north of England and is customarily eaten on Bonfire Night."
Simple, from someone still finding her mark, is not always a bad approach.
With photos of happy children playing games like pumpkin bowling and eating doughnuts hanging on strings from the limbs of trees, it's tempting to think "Celebrate" is the perfect babysitter's cookbook, a fashionable Mary Poppins, if you will. But Pippa quickly saves her reputation as London's "It Girl" with her recipes for adult cocktails. So let's upgrade that ranking to a helpful dorm party book for people not quite ready to let go of childhood. Or maybe a party guide for frazzled young parents who've let the living room go to seed with LEGOs.
Presentation is half the battle at any party table. An appealing looking dish with simple decorations can make guests feel like you've stepped it up a bit for them, and they'll appreciate it. A little bit of effort can turn just another get together with friends in front of the telly into a more festive occasion, and that appears to be what "Celebrate" aims to help its readers achieve.
Pippa and her autumnal offerings – so far – is being roasted by the media as an effort to cash in on her new found fame, a veritable insult to the public with its lollypop studded pumpkins and tomato soup with floating chunks of cheese. Really? Domestic maven Martha Stewart has run the critics' gauntlet for years for being too complex and too perfect.
And so what if "Celebrate" gives a detailed explanation of how to play the school game conkers? Let Pippa be who she is, the public obviously can't get enough of her, and pass me a piece of parkin cake.