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Want ambience? Then keep the party out of my kitchen

I love a good party at my house. As long as it doesn't end up in the kitchen.

What is up with that? Didn't you all just finish washing dinner dishes in your own kitchen? Why get all dressed up and put on lipstick, only to head into mine?

It's definitely a room I try to avoid at a party. The harsh lighting alone keeps me out of there. I like ambiance - dim lights, maybe a fire, a place to sit down. I don't want to stand on a tile floor in heels, leaning against cold granite, wondering why there's not one single Post-it note or unpaid bill tacked to their cute little cork board.

And where is the precedence for this? It's not like there's a great party scene in a kitchen in every movie. It's not like "Gone With the Wind" took place in a kitchen. In fact the only movie I can think of set largely in a kitchen is "The Family Stone" - the one where Diane Keaton is a mom, meeting her son's new girlfriend, Sarah Jessica Parker. Now that kitchen was cool and rustic and I could totally see hanging out in there. But probably because Diane Keaton was standing in it.

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I'll tell you another kitchen I could spend some time in, and by coincidence, it was another one of Diane Keaton's - her kitchen in "Something's Gotta Give." Small group, but she made eating eggs by candlelight in her bathrobe with Jack Nicholson look like a formal dinner party in there.

I liked her kitchen in "First Wives Club" - she was only in there long enough to get the bad news about Stockard Channing, but it was nice. And her kitchen in "Baby Boom," in that big country house where she made all that baby food with Sam Shepard? So cozy.

I don't really remember the décor of her kitchen in "Annie Hall," but chasing lobsters around with Woody Allen makes a lot more sense than hosting a cocktail party in there, I can tell you that.


I'm not having it. I just had a party and not one person made it into my kitchen. Because I hired a gatekeeper. Disguised as a bartender. She met the guests at the door. She took their coats, their drink order and then escorted them into the living room. And when they tried to sneak in through the side door to the kitchen, she headed them off at the pass. With their cocktail. Brilliant.

As backup, I made the kitchen as uninviting as possible - no food, no drinks. I even turned the lights off. Nothing but dirty platters and lots of Post-it notes.

And then we sat around the fire in my living room and played "Someone's in the Kitchen With Diane" - a party game I made up. And I won, too - the answer was Steve Martin, in the kitchen with Diane, in "Father of the Bride II."

GREAT party.