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FARGO -- Jessica Baumgardner and Jes Gordon had little in common besides a first name before their mutual agent teamed them up. Baumgardner, a Fargo expat, was a freelance magazine writer looking for a project. Gordon, a celebrity party planner, ...

Jessica Baumgardner
Former Fargo resident Jessica Baumgardner discusses her book "Party Like a Rock Star" while in Fargo for the holidays. She co-wrote the book with Jes Gordon. (John Lamb, The Forum)

FARGO -- Jessica Baumgardner and Jes Gordon had little in common besides a first name before their mutual agent teamed them up.

Baumgardner, a Fargo expat, was a freelance magazine writer looking for a project. Gordon, a celebrity party planner, had an idea for a book but needed a writer.

The two teamed up on "Party Like a Rock Star: A Celebrity Party Planner's Tips and Tricks for Throwing an Unforgettable Bash." The book covers obvious issues (the importance of sticking to a budget) and some overlooked aspects (the importance of creating a concept).

And when the topic came to food and drinks, she knew who to talk to: Her sister, Andrea, runs Fargo's Green Market Catering.

Back in Fargo with her husband, Irad Eyal, and her two small children for the holidays, she talked about the finer points of partying.

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Q. What did you learn about throwing a party from writing this book?

A. Everything. I knew nothing about throwing parties. In New York, Irad and I would throw Thanksgiving shindigs with 50 recipes we never tried before. We never planned ahead. We'd start drinking wine at 11 a.m. and forget about the turkey. I was always getting stressed out about things. Jes is really good about saying that you need to relax and have fun at your own parties.

Q. What did you learn that you could use now, coming home for the holidays?

A. Know what you're good at and hire the rest. ... Focus on what you really enjoy, and don't stress the details. You can have a really sophisticated potluck. No one hands out awards at the end of the night.

Q. Parties seem to be a little different here than on the coasts.

A. It's so different in New York because no one has space to throw parties so they rent rooms. In Los Angeles, people have room, but they have outdoor parties because of the nice weather. In North Dakota, you have the opportunity to have these big house parties because people have homes here.

Q. The two of you talked about this project as being "the anti-Martha Stewart," but some of these ideas are kind of extravagant.

A. She used to put on these spectacular events, so we talked about something anyone can accomplish.

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Q. Like "arrange a lovely sleigh ride pulled by Clydesdales," as suggested for the dashing through the snow party?

A. Actually, we're going on a horse-drawn carriage ride tonight through Lindenwood. So you can do that.

Q. So, what are your party plans for New Year's Eve?

A. It's the most disappointing night of the year. That and Halloween. I have such high expectations. Last year, I fell asleep at 10 p.m. watching "Tropic Thunder" on TV. All I'm looking forward to now is making it past midnight, hopefully with a glass of champagne in my hand.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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