David Burtka Shares the 1 Mistake You Shouldn’t Make When Hosting a Dinner Party

The celebrity chef spoke to The Daily Meal while promoting his new cookbook
david burtka life is a party
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Capital One

David Burtka’s life is a party — literally. He and husband Neil Patrick Harris host people in their Harlem home at least once every other week if not more often, whether it’s for a dinner, a full-fledged celebration or just a “Game of Thrones” watch party. (Burtka’s rooting for Jon Snow to take the Iron Throne, by the way.) Regardless of the occasion, Burtka says we should stop looking for excuses to invite people over. His definition of a party isn’t troughs of booze and nights he won’t remember, but rather seeing his loved ones and enjoying those moments together in tandem with the one thing that unites us all: food.

10 Dinner Party Hacks to Transform You Into the Ultimate Host

At the invitation of Capital One’s Savor Card, The Daily Meal spoke with the chef and entertaining authority, who just released a new cookbook called “Life Is a Party.” In it, he shares seasonal recipes, decorating tips and playlists to put party planning at ease. But what if you’ve never hosted anyone in your home before?

“Don’t try to think you can do it all by yourself,” the 43-year-old “How I Met Your Mother” alum told The Daily Meal. “Bring in other people and try to make it a group effort. Make the main dish and make a side, then call out for dessert and some other stuff like appetizers.” 

david burtka neil patrick harris

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Capital One

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka at the launch of "Life Is a Party" on April 15.

If you don’t want to turn your party into a potluck, you can always source some dishes from online caterers, grocery stores or local restaurants that taste just as good as something you’d make at home. People do it all the time. Just plate it in secret and no one will know. Whatever you decide, your guests will come rushing in with a burning desire to help, so let them.

“What’s the one thing you say when you go to a party and walk in the door?” he said. “‘What can I do?’ I tell people, have a list of 10 things you can give others to do, whether that’s dicing the onions or cutting tomatoes.”

“With this book ["Life Is a Party"], it really lends itself to get people to do things together,” he added. “It’s a really social book. It doesn’t have to be this world where you foolproof the night before everything make-ahead. I think we’re craving social moments in our day-to-day, and with so many people on their cellphones it’s great to get together with a group of friends and tackle a party. Do it with your friends and do it with your family. Get your kids involved.”

Burtka even let his 8-year-old twins curate recipes for his cookbook. His son Gideon came up with the “Chicken Tot Pie,” a chicken pot pie with tater tots on top instead of pastry crust, and the “Sweet and Salty Popcorn With Mini Meringues” comes courtesy of his daughter Harper.


See, even celebrity chefs don’t do everything themselves! Now that you’re well on your way to becoming a top-of-the-line home entertainer, wouldn’t you like to know the 25 secrets to being the best party guest?