The chicken hasn’t finished cooking, the kitchen floor is sprinkled with shreds of cheese, and the doorbell just rang signaling guests have started to arrive.

Sound familiar?

When you first decide to host a party, it sounds like all fun and games. Party games, drinking games … but then when it’s day of, you’re running around trying to make all hosting ends meet and end up frazzled, putting you in a foul mood for the rest of the night. A night that’s supposed to be for you.

And that’s where Liza Utter can help. After successfully establishing two celebrity-frequented restaurants in L.A., she sold them and toured the country, stopping in to see her long-lost gal pals. It was then that she realized the public’s fear for hosting. They enjoyed entertaining but the journey between the invites to the end of the night gave them so much anxiety, a restaurant reservation was an easier, and preferred, route.

Determined to turn hostessing back into an enjoyment, she launched her tour Life of the Party, where she teaches the art of hostessing, for seasoned and newbie hosts alike, in a conversational and fun manner. She offers up menu tips, tools for organizing, and sanity-saving tricks to help you pull off a somewhat perfect event (even Liza admits there’s no such thing as a flawless affair), all while guests munch on her own recipes. Throughout her class hosted at the New York Vintners wine shop in downtown Manhattan, we devoured a delicious manchego cheese thin crust pizza and sipped on sparkling cider with floating slices of apple.

Her lessons are a far cry from the Emily Post rules our parents followed, nor do they call for Martha Stewart-eque talent (really, who can actually make elegant decorations from cotton balls?). It’s for the modern day host, one who wants to create his or her own signature style for bringing together friends from different walks of life, for an evening where the chatter never stops and the glasses never go dry. And Liza will help you get there.

I’ll raise my glass to that.

– Brittny