The holidays are upon us once again and festive decorations are popping up everywhere we turn. When you spend the time and effort to decorate your home with twinkling lights and sparkling bits and bobs it provides the perfect time to entertain at home. You have already done half the work. Here are some easy Holiday entertaining tips to pull together a small or large soiree without wearing yourself out.
Easy Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Advance Planning
There are several things you can do in advance and have other people do for you. This time of year the shopkeepers count on your business to make their year a success so they can keep their doors open during the quieter months of the new year. Order sweets from your local bakery to serve at your house or to bring to someone else’s. Have your favorite restaurant prepare platters of appetizers for your events. They will taste delicious and still be made with the care you would give them yourself. The biggest bonus is not having to clean up after cooking.
Make Appetizers Ahead Of Time
Another great idea is to make items you can freeze ahead of time before baking them. There are some items that will hold up longer in the deep freeze so you can always keep them handy for those impromptu gatherings. One of my family’s favorite treats are Olive Cheese Balls. (See the recipe below.) We originally found the recipe in The Junior League Cookbook, also the source for my “secret” Christmas Punch. If you can find these cookbooks online or in thrift stores they always have some great treasures in them. Over the past few decades we have all put our own touches on some of the recipes. Personally I think some of these pre-made appetizers have a better texture if they are frozen first. I have sometimes found a stray bag in my freezer months later and they are just as tasty when baked.
Set The Holiday Mood
There are other things you can keep on hand to help you entertain with ease and to make your guests feel welcome and appreciated. Lighting is a major component of any setting. Keep a stock of candles or votives to scatter around the house for a last minute cocktail party and taper candles for intimate dinners. Fragrant candles will create a holiday mood and can be an extension of your personality be it floral or woodsy. For parties with fragrant food or floral arrangements you may want to opt for unscented candles to avoid conflicting aromas.
Music Makes The Party
Music is another very important mood setter. Take the time in advance to put together a playlist with your favorite tunes. Maybe your friends like to sing along and dance, or you may be more interested in more classical background music. For a festive cocktail party one of my favorites is Bachelor’s Guide to the Galaxy. I first bought it about 25 years ago and it is still a go-to mix for me.
Rearrange Your Space
Be sure to have enough seating to pull in if your party size grows unexpectedly. Stools and poufs fit nicely under tables and desks and can easily be added to chair groupings. There are endless options of folding chairs as well that can be tucked into the backs of closets or slid under a bed when not in use. Large serving trays or holiday-specific pieces can also be stashed away in high cabinets for the few times a year you need them.
The Best Guests
The most important element of an unforgettable party are your friends and family. Fill the room with your favorite people and everyone will have an amazing time whether they know each other or not. Relax and be a part of the party instead of laboring through it. If you are having a good time your guests will follow suit.
Shop For Easy Holiday Entertaining
Marble and Gold Tray, $34.99
Olive Cheese Balls, photo Betty Crocker
Faceted Stool By Urbia, $182.40
Mercury Candle Collection, $11.95 – $15.95
St. Germain Folding Chair, $129 each
Madeleine's Olive Cheese Balls
- 40 pimento stuffed large green olives
- 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups finely shredded natural cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- dash fresh paprika
Strain and pat dry 40 pimento stuffed large green olives.
Mix together cheddar cheese with flour. Stir in 1/2 cup of room temperature butter. Season with a bit of fresh paprika.When the dough is the consistency of raw sugar cookies wrap each of the olives.
Place on an ungreased sheet pan for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. If you would like to freeze them do this after they have been refrigerated so they do not stick together.
When you are ready to bake them preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook them for 20 minutes, or lightly browned. They should be served warm. Your guests will likely eat them before they cool.
Here are some more holiday posts from our friends.