For some, throwing a party is easier than iPhone navigation. They point their finger and a party materializes, scrapbooked nametags and all.

For others, just the thought of a party sends their blood pressure through the ceiling.

It doesn’t have to be that way though, says Phoenix designer Cheryl Najafi, whose first book “You’re So Invited: Panic Less, Play More, and Get Your Party On,” released May 29, has already made the New York Times Best Seller List.

Characterized by a laid-back retro vibe, “You’re So Invited” is one part cookbook, one part party guide, and 100 percent delightful. Its message — a good party is about making memories, not about being perfect — takes the pressure off and comes just in time for July Fourth festivities.

With these tips from Najafi, anyone can throw a stress-free Independence Day Bash.

1. Master theart of repackaging

Describing herself as “the queen of procurement and presentation,” Najafi doesn’t bat an eyelash at utilizing prepared food from Fry’s, AJ’s or Costco. In a pinch, she’ll purchase a pan of Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese and serve it in shot glasses or get a Costco cake, freeze it and slice it into pieces for mini dessert bites.

“I tell people to take the focus off themselves and think about what the guests will enjoy,” she said. It doesn’t matter if the food is homemade or the dishes match.

2. Relax

Najafi suggests parking the hovercraft and joining the party.

“Have fun!” she said. “Make guests feel welcome by becoming a member of the party instead of being on the periphery and making them feel uncomfortable.”

3. Be playful

Mix things up by doing something breezy and unexpected, she suggests, like putting fun quotes on the napkins.

“It gives them cause for pause and tells them they don’t have to behave,” said Najafi, who finds much of her inspiration on Pinterest. “I can’t be creative in a vacuum. Creativity is contagious. I get inspired and put my spin on it.”

But in the end, Najafi believes it’s all about making memories, like the time a strawberry layer cake collapsed into the cake dome en route to the table.

“Instead of being a cringe moment, we ate it out of the dome,” she said.

Memorable moments like that turn a good party into a great one.

“A good party is when people have a great time,” she said. “A great party is when they come and have stories to tell for years.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5629 or

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