I love having friends and family drop in especially over the holiday season. And I’m sure like you, people are always saying “I don’t know how you do it”. Between working, volunteering at the school, the local artist collective and shuffling the kids to their after school programs I try to find time to spend with friends each week. My sister-in-law, Paule, is such an inspiration to me. She’s busier than anyone I know and creates the most spectacular meals that she swears are simple and fuss free! See her table set up here?
Entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful. I’m not a perfectionist and I prefer to spend more time with the guests than in the kitchen! So, there are a few things I do to simplify my life so I can be with my guests. Here’s my checklist ….
1. Have your “go-to” items in your pantry/fridge always. I always have pate, cheese, crackers, olives, salsa & chips, and cupcake mix/frosting.
2. Have 3 quick assemble appetizers in your mind that kids would like too.
Here are mine:
– grape tomatoes, mini boconcini and fresh basil spears (get fancy toothpicks)
– dried dates with pecorino cheese (slice dates half way lengthwise and put in a little piece of cheese)
– smoke salmon, cream cheese and fresh dill rolled into a wrap and cut into
3. The bar always has vodka, gin, rum and scotch. We always have a few bottles of wine but I find that most people will bring a bottle or two anyway. According to Kary Osmond, Host of CBC TV’s Best Recipes, it’s ok to open the “hostess gift” bottles, especially if you’re running out…which happens often around here! Hubby also stocks the beer at the beginning of the season and replenishes as we go along.
I also keep the non-drinkers in mind. Cranberry juice, orange juice, sparkling water and ice tea are always in the fridge. BTW, try iced green tea with sparkling water and a wedge of lime!
4. Cupcakes- if kids are coming over I’ll often use the box mix. Shhh! They take no time to make and then I just put out all the decorations so they can do it themselves.! Next year I’m going to get one of those cake pop machines (ahem…can someone tell Santa?) as I’ve been running out to buy them just because I think they are cute. My friends tell me they are super easy to make. I’m up for that!
5. Coffee & Tea: The best thing anyone has ever given me is the TASSIMO home brewing machine. You know..those barcode people commercials? It simple and efficient. I don’t need to make a pot of regular coffee and another of decaf anymore… most of it went down the drain anyway because I’ve never mastered the skill of measuring out the quantities. Pain in the arse. But not anymore! This machine works with pre-measured pods of coffee, tea and hot chocolate! And good ones too! I’m a bit of a control freak…and so is the machine. It does everything for me so I don’t have to think too much about it. And seriously, I have girlfriends who love dropping in for some java! (hint: if you’re thinking about getting one for yourself or a gift, and you’re reading this now in December, I’ve seen them on sale everywhere!)
Be sure to visit our daddy blogger Jamie at Trading Places because he’s actually giving a TASSIMO T46 Home Brewer away!
6. The Playlist: I have a couple of CDs that are “loungy background” music that seems to set the right tone..not too loud or irritating. Most people don’t even really notice it but nice to have in the background. Check out some of my favourites Vertical Groove, Miguel Migs, and Bruno Be. I’m not big on entertaining with “holiday music” but that’s just me.
See? So, it’s all about easy entertaining when people drop in for “holiday cheer” and actually, anytime of the year! Hope this helps!
Here’s to great friends and family!