Easy Holiday Entertaining
By Gretta Monahan
The holiday season seems to happen earlier and earlier every year, but now it’s officially time to dive in. This year I’ve sworn to make the holidays as stress-free and enjoyable as possible, while still doing everything I can to open my house up to family and friends and celebrate the season in style. So with that mission in mind, I’m embracing a few ideas in holiday entertaining that will take the pressure off, but also make it super fun.
Make it a potluck: To ease the stress of making a four-course meal that appeals to all of your guests, a potluck ensures that the food is never-ending (with every new guest arrival, a new dish shows up!) and the menu’s diverse enough that everyone’s sure to love something.
Health-ify the traditional cocktail party: Give your guests (and their bodies!) a break from the constant deluge of overindulgence that happens straight through the holiday season. Serve them one easy and healthy holiday-themed cocktail (like the low-calorie Golden Apple — equal parts vodka and Calvados, topped with sparkling cider and an apple slice), along with almost-effortless-to-make light snacks such as sushi-grade tuna slices with wasabi and ginger on cucumber slices. Guests — and their waistlines and cholesterol levels — will thank you. Find plenty of great light and festive recipes at www.health.com.
Use sites and apps to stay organized: Don’t get me wrong, paper invites are charming and personal, and definitely have their place with more formal events. But no matter how big your shindig is, sites and/or social media (Evite, Facebook, Paperless Post, etc.) will help you stay infinitely more organized than paper, as you try to remember everyone you want to invite and keep up with who can and cannot attend. No more stressing about being short on food, or embarrassment from accidentally leaving anyone out of the plans.
Make decorating easy: Scent and color are two of the highest-impact, easy-to-employ elements in setting the scene for guests to feel at home and in the holiday spirit. Scatter big bowls of cinnamon sticks and scented pinecones around the house, and suddenly it doesn’t matter if you haven’t spent a fortune on the rest of the decor. For other decorations, keep it all cohesive by choosing a main color and some accent colors that pair nicely. For Thanksgiving, it could be a traditional mix of brown shades, but muted yellows and oranges are just as appropriate and pretty. Red is the go-to-hue for Christmas, of course, or go for something elegant, like champagne and white. For New Year’s? Sky’s the limit: royal blue with white; hot violet with black; or metallics — whatever makes you feel excited to be the host/ess with the mostest.