As viewers of her Oxygen shows "Tori & Dean" and "STORIbook Weddings" know, Tori Spelling loves planning parties, and her latest book "CelebraTORI" reflects that passion. Appearing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books to talk about it at the Los Angeles Times Stage, she shared her party-giving philosophy and a few eco-friendly ideas.
"Growing up, my mom threw amazing parties and she'd let me come with her and plan everything with her. I would follow her around and be awed by how detail-oriented she was," said Spelling, who dedicated the book to her mother. When she started planning her own events for family and friends, she wanted to share those inexpensive, DIY ideas she'd collected, plus recipes and anecdotes, accompanied by 140 photos she styled herself.
"Almost the entire book is about finding things around your house and repurposing them for other things," said Spelling, who also hunts garage sales, Goodwill and flea markets for items she can use. "I love getting frames that are battered and broken and I paint them, put a piece of plywood on the bottom, wrap them in fabric or wrapping paper and use them as trays."
A big fan of the DIY, old-school approach, Spelling prefers handwritten invitations to e-vites ("The invitation is the first impression you make") and giving gifts that are sometimes handmade. "I pride myself on gifts for my family and friends. I don't care if it costs $5, as long as it's something that's super-personal and reflects them. Homemade equals love." She advises guests to never arrive empty-handed. "A lot of time and energy went into that party, so it's nice to show your appreciation by bringing a gift. It can be as simple as a handwritten note, a bottle of wine, just something to show you care."
Having had her share of disasters, like the Winter Wonderland party that devolved into a muddy mess, she's learned that guests having fun — and they did — is what counts. "I've learned to let things go and realize, 'you've done all you can do, and now it's up to the them to enjoy themselves.'"
Now expecting her fourth child, due this summer, Spelling believes in including her kids in her party planning. "We do everything as a family. They want to participate and I encourage that," she said, noting that her animals, including chickens and a goat, are welcome at her parties. "I save money because I don't have to bring in a petting zoo!" she laughed. You don't have to live in the country to incorporate the country into city life," she said, noting that she originally got the chickens "to have the kids experience that and collect the eggs. My son Liam would only eat eggs that he could collect and cook with me. We had an organic garden we started in a little box and same thing: if he could grow it and pick it he'd eat it. It's been an important lesson to teach the kids about our environment and animals."
Asked about her interest in competition reality shows, Spelling responded that "The Celebrity Apprentice" appeals to her interest in business and marketing, and "Dancing with the Stars" to her girly side, but she wouldn't do the latter even though she's a fan and avid watcher. "I don't know if I'd want to put all my eggs in that basket because when I talk to people who have been on the show, they say that when you're training for that it's your life and everything else comes second, and I don't think I would be wiling to give that up at this point in my life," she said. "My family and my children have to come first."