What are Naya Rivera’s rules for entertaining in her spacious hillside Los Angeles home? Set out the candles, serve up some scrumptious food, and create a playlist of your favorite grooves. The triple threat and Glee star likes to play chief cook and party-thrower by welcoming friends and family alike into her neatly decorated space. “It’s light, open, and airy,” she says of her residence in our June issue. “It’s a real dream to live in and ideal for entertaining.” Rivera’s home is full of party pad-worthy amenities, including a pool (which often acts as the centerpiece of the events she hosts), terraces and decks, a lower-level bar, and a screening room.

Naya Rivera's Los Angeles HomeDean Kaufman

Here, she gives us her secrets to hosting the perfect intimate summer barbecue for her nearest and dearest:

Be a little formal
“Summer bashes are the best,” says Rivera. For them, she indulges in a bit of pomp: “I’m a big fan of sending paper invitations to guests on stationary from Bliss & Bone (Blissandbone.com).” For floral decorations, Rivera favors an unfussy look, such as “arrangements with ornamental cabbages and herbs.” She also loves illuminating her house entirely with candles, often using battery-operated versions.

Set out a full bar
Rivera kick-starts the festivities with happy hour, serving cocktails on trays or establishing a drinks station stocked with beer, her favorite organic pinot noir from Frey ($18; freywine.stores.yahoo.net), mixers, a few bottles of liquor (gin, scotch, vodka), ice, and pool-friendly red plastic Solo cups.

Play music you love
Tunes set the tone and establish the theme. “Last summer I had two pool parties and all I played was Earth, Wind & Fire,” says Rivera, who streams the playlist wirelessly from her smartphone to speakers placed strategically around the house. What if your pool party gets rained out? Go inside and pull out the old-school vinyl, suggests the star, who has a Crosley record player and a library of albums, including jazz greats Billie Holiday and Lena Horne and punk-rock legend Patti Smith.

Fire up the grill
An avid cook, Rivera often mans the barbecue. “I’ll do ribs, hot links, chicken, and corn on the cob, and put out baked beans and my homemade coleslaw.” She also is sure to finish off an informal meal with something sweet, like watermelon or one of her decadent desserts. Regulars clamor for her Southern-style pound cake made with two sticks of butter. “I call it my gain-a-pound cake,” she says with a laugh.

Move it
Late nights sometimes end with board games (Monopoly, Pictionary, or Taboo), but Rivera and her friends are also into performance-based games like Celebrity and Mafia. When partygoers want to dance, the house is instantly transformed: Ottomans that double as seats can easily be pushed aside to clear the space.

Want to see more of Naya Rivera’s stunning Los Angeles home? Go inside her space and get the full tour in our gallery!

—Original story by David Keeps

For the full feature, pick up the June issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.