David Burtka‘s life with husband Neil Patrick Harris and twins Harper and Gideon, 8, is quite entertaining, so he decided to write his first cookbook, Life Is A Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration, to share his myriad of experiences.
The book, which hits shelves April 16, is a spinoff from his 2016 Food Network special, Life’s a Party with David Burtka. “I never anticipated writing a book could be so much work but I loved it all,” Burtka, 43, told PEOPLE during the Heineken Light Burger Bash during South Beach Food & Wine Festival.
Burtka said he made the most of every moment during the long hours involved with writing the book.
“I am a control freak and wanted a piece of everything,” he said. “I wrote all of it, tasted the recipes six or seven times, helped with food styling and props, and spent even more time making sure the photographs we used were perfect.”
Life Is a Party is uniquely divided into the four seasons illustrated through 16 creative party themes with the use of seasonal foods. There are four parties per chapter, and two parties per season with 106 recipes and 260 photographs.
“The book gives a glimpse into our world and how we entertain,” said Burtka, a Cordon-Bleu trained chef. “We show our lifestyle with the twins by carving pumpkins for fall, parading around the snow in the winter, and sharing my secrets for throwing an amazing and unforgettable event.”
When Burtka entertains, he feels the most important thing for his guests is to enjoy the moment and not forget the party after it ends. “I show readers how to make their party special by designing a dazzling tablescape, mixing and matching dishes, and ensuring that guests are surprised with a take home gift,” he said. “I create moments to remember.”
Since Harris, who “totally supported” Burtka and his vision for writing his book, was busy with a project in Vancouver, the author engaged his children to help with taste testing.
“It was lots of fun, but the kids would ask me, ‘tangerine chicken, again?’ and ‘how many different ways can we eat lemon sole, dad?’”
During the process, there were a few potential disasters that the Burtka was able to work to his advantage—like when a “I pulled the kids out of school and had them drinking hot cocoa on the snow covered steps for an awesome photo,” he said.
For Burtka, one of the best aspects of writing the book was shooting more photographs than a reader would expect to find. “We shared our secrets while allowing readers to see a real portrait of our lives,” he said.