Tag Archives: host

Savvy Styling Tips Every Holiday Host Needs To Know

This season, deck the halls with styling tricks to elevate your holiday party without putting a freeze on your bank account. Home entertaining expert and party stylist Chris Nease, of Celebrations at Home, shares her stylish secrets to throw a posh holiday bash on a budget.

13041_BIt’s All In the Details
Fact: A swanky holiday party does not require a ton of decorations or perfect coordination, according to Nease. A little creativity goes a long way with inexpensive touches. Use pieces that you already have to create an effortless look that feels cozy and stylish all at once:

* Make it Pinterest-worthy by casually draping two versatile fabrics over your primary serving area. Set up food stations with complementary items grouped together on serving platters. Garnish platters with fresh herbs and cranberries for a rustic, fancy touch.

* See you later formal dining, tiny food is here to stay. Whip up a scrumptious menu of small bites to encourage guests to try new foods. Make it easy for the not-so-adventurous ones and label appetizers and pairings that aren’t so obvious (like gourmet meats and mustards).

* It’s all about plating when you weave in a holiday classic like glazed spiral sliced ham. For a new rendition, make it a small plate by cutting slices of ham in half to create mini sliders with a sweet chutney fruit spread. The saltiness of ham pairs deliciously with pineapple, apple or cranberry.

* Cinnamon spice and everything nice. Keep it classy with a fancy cocktail, like a spiked apple cider. Try the Not Your Momma’s Cider recipe from ALDI below. For a simple garnish, thread diced red and green apples on a toothpick (sprinkle lemon juice on the apples to keep from browning) and top with a cinnamon stick for the perfect fancy embellishment.

A Holiday Party To Remember
For a simple homemade touch, send guests home with a sweet something to end the evening:

* Good things do come in small packages. Fill mini holiday tins with an assortment of European sweets, such as German chocolates or marzipan.
* Swoon your guests with a touch of rustic charm by filling Mason jars with layers of premeasured ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe. Wrap with a ribbon and add baking instructions on a festive gift tag.
* Purchase limited-time European cookies at ALDI. Have the kids dip each cookie halfway in melted chocolate and add holiday sprinkles for a simple holiday treat. These will almost feel made from scratch, but no one will know.

13041_ANot Your Momma’s Cider

You will need:
1 cup Wicked Grove Hard Cider
8 cups Nature’s Nectar Apple Cider, divided
6 cinnamon sticks, divided
12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
8 ounces dark rum
1 red apple, diced
1 green apple, diced

In bowl, combine hard cider and 4 cups apple cider. Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight.
In pot, combine remaining apple cider, 2 cinnamon sticks and 8 sprigs thyme. Bring to boil. Remove from heat, stir in rum.
Strain mixture into bowl. Place mixture in refrigerator overnight to cool.
Divide liquid among 4 mugs.
To serve hot, remove steps 1 and 3 and serve immediately.

Make Thanksgiving Easier

bellaweb1With the parades, football games and plenty of food, Thanksgiving is usually enjoyed by all. But what if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and welcoming friends and family into your home? Thanksgiving can all of a sudden become very stressful and overwhelming.
Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says focus on the five Ps:  Prior planning prevents poor performance. 
Here are her 10 tips for being a hospitable host during the holidays: 

  • Do your homework: Find out ahead of time if any of your guests have food allergies or other dietary restrictions and plan your menu accordingly or prepare a buffet with a variety of items.  Keep it simple and serve what you know.  Don’t try to serve an unfamiliar, complicated, or labor-intensive dish your first time out. 
  • Keep a list: Write down all of the items you need to make your meal complete.  It’s especially frustrating when you think you have all of your ingredients and then discover in the midst of cooking that you don’t have enough salt, sugar, or butter.   
  • Have a variety of beverages on hand: The mark of a good host is to have a few bottles of red and white wine along with plenty of nonalcoholic beverages for the teetotalers in the group. 
  • Stock up on snacks:  This includes nuts, chips, salsa or dip, one or two different cheeses, crackers, and one or two kinds of frozen appetizers.  Choose hors d’oeuvres that are easy to eat and require only one bite.  This will ensure that no one gets crumbs on his or her nice outfit or on your floor. 
  • Do as much as possible the day before: Don’t wait until the last minute. Set your table the night before.  Clean and polish your serving pieces and fill your salt and pepper shakers a few days before Thanksgiving dinner to avoid last-minute flurries.  
  • Iron your linens. When you are serving cocktails, provide linen cocktail napkins or, at the very least, decorative paper cocktail napkins.  For dinner, use linen napkins because they’re more elegant than paper ones.  
  • Set the mood: Candles are an easy, inexpensive, quick way to make any home more inviting.  Buy as many candles as you can and place them throughout your house.  Remember to reserve a few unscented ones for the dinner table.  Light your candles approximately 15 or 20 minutes prior to your guests’ arrival, and then light the candles on your dinner table just before everyone sits down to dine.  
  • Choose your tunes: Music is a vital element in the staging of a good holiday get together, as it sets the tone for the evening.  Create a dinner party playlist on your iPod or iPhone or preset your CD player so there’s music in the air when your guests arrive and keep it playing throughout the evening.  
  • Preset your coffee and tea service: About an hour before your party, set up your coffeemaker and put cream, milk, sugar, and sweetener in decorative containers.  Put condiments in attractive bowls or containers rather than placing bottles directly on the table.  Put your coffee cups, saucers, teaspoons, and assorted teas on a tray on a side table.  
  • Make time for yourself. Allow plenty of time to shower, get dressed, and look your best for your party.  You’ll want to greet your guests at the door with a relaxed smile on your face.  The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better time you’ll have at your own party.