Once you’re prepared and organized, you’ll find that entertaining is really quite straightforward. Here are our top ten tips for successful entertaining, from the menu you choose to the ambiance you create.
1- Detailed planning: Proper planning is the key when you’re entertaining over the holidays. Keep it stress-free by thinking ahead. Don’t let your “to do” list get too long – schedule the tasks on your list over several days. Lists are your best friend to keep from forgetting anything.
2- Delegate tasks to get everything done: If your mother-in-law offers to bring a salad, say yes, of course. Don’t turn your nose up at any offer of help. Your spouse and the older kids can pitch in and help with the prep for the big meal. The less you have to do yourself, the more you can relax and enjoy your guests.
3- Pick up some simple snacks at the grocery store: With drinks before dinner, just serve some snacks that are ready to go. Think veggies with dip, pâté and crackers, olives or salted nuts – no prep time required!
4- Choose appetizers you can serve cold: Serving an appetizer like shrimp with mango salsa, or a salad with bocconcini cheese and strawberries, makes a smart start to the meal. Just pop it into the fridge to keep your counters clear for the main course. Do it the night before or first thing in the morning – that makes one less thing to think about the day of the big dinner!
5- Follow familiar recipes that can simmer for a while: This is no time to try a new recipe, unless you want to eat three hours late because the meat’s not cooked yet. So choose something you’ve made before that can be prepared in advance, like an oven-ready dish.
6- Help yourself: At serving time, put out all the components of the main course on the table – potatoes, casserole, vegetables – and ask your guests to serve themselves. That’s the best way to have everything hot and ready to go for your hungry guests.
7- Hassle-free dessert: The Christmas cake or log was prepared last night, of course. The fridge is already stuffed to bursting, so you’ll want a dessert that’s meant to be served at room temperature. And don’t forget the fruit plate!
8- Home decorating made simple: You don’t need to spend a fortune on decorations. Recycle your Christmas things from last year. A few bright lights here and there and the lovely scent of the tree, and you’re all set. Head for the storage closet, not the store!
9- DIY table-setting: Remember, “minimalist” is the order of the day. Use your imagination to create a centrepiece from a few simple materials you already have at hand. A few pine branches and baubles on the tablecloth say “happy holidays” in an appealingly natural way.
10- And how about the ambiance?: Warm and welcoming is what you want here. Put on some jazzy seasonal music and light a few candles. If you have a fireplace, that certainly spells cozy. There’s just one problem: your guests won’t want to leave…
This year, keep everything simple and stress-free!