Cover Datin Usha and Carmey Chua each have their secret ingredients to fabulous parties, which will come in handy for your party planning

The end of the year brings with it celebrations and festivities to mark the passage of time and anticipation of a New Year. Standing out in a season of soirées calls for elaborate efforts, and so we turned to 6 adept hosts and hostesses for tips on how they inject joie de vivre into their legendary dinner parties.

1. Datin Alissa Fitri

Armed with a magnetic aura, Datin Alissa is a natural-born party hostess. “The only reason I throw a party is to spend time with the people I love,” she shared. “I particularly enjoy hosting parties for my daughter Raisa, when she returns from overseas, and her cousins. Their favourite place to dine is on our patio by the pool.”

For go-to menus, Datin Alissa attributes her daughters’ nanny, Kak Mah, for her signature, mouth-watering dishes like the crab soup. This year-end, Datin Alissa and her husband, Dato’ Sufian Majid, will be spending time with Raisa in London. As for her most memorable party? “My 30th wedding anniversary party in Bali two years ago at The Legian!” she revealed.

2. Carmey Chua

Statuesque and elegant, Carmey’s lunch or dinner parties are as beautifully turned out as she is. The executive director of ONE IFC, the developer of  St. Regis Hotel and Residence KL, owns luxurious properties to host her parties. “I enjoy entertaining at home as well as at The St. Regis KL,” said Carmey, who opined that the secret to fun parties lie in scrumptious food and drinks, and good company. Apart from bespoke table-settings – think handpainted menus or calligraphic place cards – Carmey plans ahead to factor time for personalised party favours.  A must-have for Carmey (and a failproof hit) is a DIY dessert bar. And what of Carmey’s culinary feats? “The only time I’ve really cooked was to observe my husband’s family tradition,” she divulged. “I served them their family’s Hokkien Popiah recipe that I made.”

3. Datin Usha Nair

Donning the mantle of one of the best hostess in town, the gracious Datin Usha goes the extra mile in entertaining. “I am very careful in my selection of my tableware,” disclosed Datin Usha, a collector of fine China, silver flatware and crystal glasses. She complements this with quality food, presentation of dishes, and fresh flowers.

Ambiance is key, like lighting and music, which her husband Dato’ Mohan Karthigasu is in charge of. “The personality of the host and hostess plays an important part the party’s success…. With drinks, food, laughter and entertainment,” explained Datin Usha. “No matter how tired I am, when I’m with family and friends, I come alive!”

4. Ken Lim & Hubert Hoi

For these 2 beloved gentlemen, entertaining is about showing the love for friends in a home setting. “We love having close friends over to catch up,” established Hubert Hoi. “We usually serve home-cooked food, mainly Asian dishes such as Vietnamese noodles with lemongrass chicken and spring rolls as they are both tasty and healthy.” Their fun-loving and playful side surfaces when asked to recall their memorable parties. “If we were to share, we won’t have any more house parties! But jokes aside, every party is memorable as it is enjoyed with close friends.”

5. Tunku Dara Naquiah

Making guests feel at ease is top priority for Tunku Dara Naquiah, beginning simply with an introduction. The Negeri Sembilan royalty’s repute for coveted parties exceeds her, although but she’s slowed down of late. “I entertain my immediate family once every fortnight for dinner, every Friday we have lunch together at home after our prayers,” revealed the effervescent Tunku Dara. Listing gado gado, soto soup, ayam kuning chili api and her speciality – a hometown dessert kuih sepang, among her repertoire dishes, Tunku Dara says she likes to liven up the moment with coloured dress codes or ‘picking’ their dinner companion by drawing lots from a bowl. “Once, Engelbert Humperdinck came for dinner and literally sang for his supper!” disclosed the hostess par excellence.

6. Elizabeth Marini

As the vice president of The Marini’s Group, it goes without saying that Elizabeth Marini entertains generously – the launch of the group’s latest venture, Cé La Vi, serves as prime example. Being in the F&B business puts dinner parties second nature for Elizabeth. “It’s not difficult being a good party host. It’s about knowing who you will be inviting,” pronouncd the discerning hostess. If that means creating 2 separate menus, Elizabeth is game for the challenge. “Christmas dinners are usually focused on Western cuisine like roast turkey and Italian dishes but I include some local dishes for my Malaysian friends.” Besides a curated guest list, her pillars of festivities are, “champagne, personalised gifts, and of course, music!”

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