Life imitates art for actress Ali Larter. The mom of two played a character gifted with magical abilities on the hit TV series Heroes, but what most people don't know is that Larter's a bit of a superhero in real life. When she's not taking care of her little ones, Theodore and baby Vivienne, she's juggling performing, writing—check out her 2013 book Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus from My Home to Yours ($24; amazon.com)—and hosting fabulous parties. Below, Larter (who's currently partnering with cleaning product company Lysol) gives us her top tips for throwing the ultimate spring shindig, whether the guests are grown gal pals or pint-size party animals.
What are your favorite spring party dishes?
"Whole roasted branzino with fresh herbs. I think that whole fish can be intimidating, but you can have your fishmonger do all of the dirty work, and then just pop it in the oven for 18 minutes with oil and lemon. I also love basic shrimp scampi with citrus, chili peppers, and garlic, which you can have ready in 10 minutes," says Larter. "Sugar snap pea salad with a shallot vinaigrette is a beautiful side dish, and for dessert, I make lemon cake or fruit crostata."
What's on the drink menu?
"I love rosé. It's delicious when paired with some sort of crab dish or crab corn pasta. I also like a little mezcal with some grapefruit."
What’s the secret to planning the perfect kids’ party?
"One of the most important things you can do is to keep it small, keep it limited to friends and family," advises Larter. "And I love to bake my own cake, which can be the star dish. I threw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party for my son, and we had a green cake, salads, and green lemonade. So fun and easy."
What are your tips for making clean-up as painless as possible?
"We have egg yolks and broken shells all over our counter in the morning, so I rely on Lysol Disinfecting Wipes to kill all of the bacteria. I do not clean as I go along, much to my husband’s dismay; I’m definitely someone who likes to wipe everything down at the end," Larter explains. Preparing for a party with no time for clean-up? "You can always hide your dishes in the bathtub, if things become desperate!"