Stress-free holiday entertaining tips

December 14, 2012

I absolutely love Christmas:  getting together with friends and family, and revisiting family traditions.  But let’s face it, the holidays can also bring a lot of stress.  Between decorating, shopping for gifts, wrapping the gifts, and then the entertaining – it can get overwhelming.

And while I am a foodie, I can also get stressed out like anyone else, particularly when the holiday entertaining extends over several days.  The trick is to pace, and to keep things as simple as possible.

While my friends and family love to sample my ‘original’ homemade creations, nothing makes guests more uncomfortable than a stressed out host.

Metro** was kind enough to send over this great list of holiday tips that will make your gatherings a success and take the stress out of entertaining:

  1. Creative serving – Instead of communal bowls of nuts, try a more eye catching and hygienic presentation by putting snacks in clear-glass, narrow-necked decanters. Guests can pour nut and trail mixes themselves, and it looks great, too!
  2. Stagger serving times – If all food is served at the start of the night, guests are likely to gorge and go home early. Keep your party hopping by serving your tasty hors d’oeuvres all night long.
  3. Impress with a signature cocktail – Channel your inner mixologist and offer guests a unique signature cocktail for your holiday party. Be sure to have other non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages to offer alongside this cocktail.
  4. Prep in advance – The ‘day of’ for the party planner is always hectic! Between set up, last minute errands, and wrangling the kids – stress is high. Try prepping what you can a few days before. Things like fruit trays, cheese and cracker platters and freeze-ahead recipes such as meatballs can all be put together a day or two in advance.
  5. Presentation is everything – When preparing food trays and hors d’oeuvres platters, have fun! Use the Canadian winter landscape as inspiration by placing pinecones and frosted pine needles in your tray display.
  6. Fast and fancy – Limited time? Solicit the help of the frozen food aisle and pick up a few appetizers that are ready to heat and serve.  Same goes for the dessert tray.  Pick up an assortment of cookies, and add them to your homemade goodies, along with a few chocolates.  Metro offered me the opportunity to sample a few products of my choosing – check out a few of my recommendations, below.
  7. Tidy as you go – No one likes waking up to a mess, by tidying bit by bit during your party, the house will be kept clean for your guests, too!
  8. Set the ambiance – A beautiful candle display can never go wrong at a holiday party
  9. Provide plenty of options – Be sure to provide an assortment of appetizer options at your holiday bash to keep all types of appetites full and happy!
  10. Enjoy yourself – This is your party, too! You’ve worked hard and it’s important to enjoy the environment, interact with your guests and taste your delicious treats!

At Metro’s invitation, I picked up a few new appetizers to sample when I was in Toronto last week:

  • Indian Style Delights (butter chicken, tandoori beef roll and vegetable curry somosas, all wrapped in phyllo pastry.  Indian flavours are a current trend, and of course, mini anything is always popular, and with these, you can enjoy the flavours without all of the fussy work that goes into making them.
  • Spanish-Style Tapas – black olive palmiers and pimento-stuffed olive puffs.   I make similar tapas to these, but when I am in entertaining mode for days straight, or we have drop-in guests, these are a a great addition – and I don’t have to do the work.  I can put these out and my friends and family wouldn’t be able to tell whether or not I made these myself.
Seasoned Chicken and Pork Satays with Thai sauce.   These are pre-cooked, satisfying, and dead easy – and very light on calories.  I heated these up in the oven in 12 minutes, and the sauce thawed in five minutes.
Metro also has a nice Irresistibles European cookie selection that I have been using to round out a platter of my own baking, along with a selection of chocolates.  My mother started bringing these a few years ago, along with a box of chocolates, specifically to round out my dessert platters, and now I do this every year.
Follow these guidelines, and I can guarantee that not only will your guests enjoy the party, but you’ll be able to enjoy yourself too.
**Please note that while Metro provided the holiday tips and samples, my opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review in return for these products.
This post is third in the 12 Days of Christmas series by One Cook, Two Kitchens.  Daily posts offering recipes, tips, stories and giveaways will continue between now and December 24th. 
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