Entertain/Food / January 26, 2012

Less Stress Holiday Entertaining

Although the holidays tend to sneak up on us, when we finally have the tree up, the lights strung and the stockings hung with care, we suddenly get the urge to have a holiday wine get-together. Whether it’s the neighbors or your co-workers, an impromptu gathering can be practically stress-free.

Sometimes, the more spur-of-the-moment, the better–less time to worry about perfection and enjoy the spirit of the season. It’s all about having a few key items on hand so you’re not rushing around when last-minute parties erupt. Here are some ideas we think make things a little easier.

Have wine on hand all season long. No sense buying one bottle at a time when you know there will be plenty of occasions to pop corks for the next few weeks. Make a run to your favorite wine retailer and pick up a case if you can–at least six bottles each of red and white, depending on your preference, and some sparkling, too.

There are lots of great wine specials this time a year–look for the large displays, sometimes found on the end of the aisle. You’ll most likely save a couple of dollars per bottle off the regular price. Also, many retailers offer additional discounts when you buy in quantity.

Stock up on candles. Nothing sets the stage for holiday cheer like candles. Everybody looks amazing by candlelight and our my opinion, you can never light too many. Pick up a selection of different shapes and sizes–small and large pillars, votives, tea lights, tapers etc. We like spicy, holiday-scented candles in the entry way or the guest bathroom. At the dinner table, We prefer unscented, so guests can take in all the yummy aromas of the wine and food. Votives tucked into Mason jars make quick luminaries to set on the stairs or path leading up to your front door. If you don’t already have one, pick up a utility lighter with a flexible neck. Makes lighting all the different shapes and sizes a snap.

Pretty, easy products. Love the fancy cloth napkins, crystal stemware and wedding china, but don’t love the care and upkeep? Check out smashing paper cocktail napkins and plates from Gaspari.

Lots of beautiful patterns, shapes and sizes to choose from. We like the small square silver-bordered salad/dessert plates for appetizers paired with the matching cocktail napkins.


For a shatterproof glass that’s also reusable and recyclable, go for GoVino. Much more elegant than your standard plastic glass, these stemless tumblers are perfect for wine, punch and cocktails.

Also available in a Champagne flute. BPA free.

Quick Crostini. The combinations for Crostini (little toasts) are practically endless. We slice a loaf of Ciabatta bread–be sure to cut the slices into thin, bite-size lengths. You can also use a baguette as shown in the photo. Toast the bread in the oven at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Brush the slices with EVOO, then rub each one with a clove of garlic. Top with fresh ricotta sprinkled with chives and finely diced sun-dried tomatoes, store-bought olive tapenade, finely-chopped sauteed wild mushrooms and thyme or a schmear of gorgonzola and a dab of fig jam. For a homemade touch, use toasted Ciabatta slices instead of crackers to accompany ready-made dips or on cheese plates.

Deck the halls with produce. Flowers are lovely, but they can be expensive this time of year and time-consuming to arrange. For quick splashes of color, fill a tall, hurricane-style glass vase with citrus, such as tangerines (look for ones with pretty green leaves), oranges, limes and/or lemons, or a large wooden bowl with festive red persimmons and/or firm green pears.

What are your favorite holiday entertaining tips? Share them with the Sisterhood!


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