Photo: Courtesy of Piece of Meat

Memorial Day weekend means two things: major sales and summer has kicked off. Most commemorate the holiday and long weekend with a party, where the grill is dusted off and white clothing is formally accepted again. Behind every picture-perfect Memorial Day gathering, is a knowing hostess. They have the perfect playlist in the background with an abundance of food, both traditional and modern, and plenty of ingredients for cocktails. Julia Reed--writer, editor, author, and experienced entertainer--covers the basics and more in her latest guide titled Julia Reed's New Orleans. Her love of entertaining and the city is combined with expert tips from notable chefs, ensuring a fantastic fête no matter the occasion.

If you find yourself in the hosting position this weekend, study up on Reed's simple suggestions below to make the party go off without a hitch.