Thinking about entertaining this holiday season? I like to have guests over that I have been meaning to catch up with all year because offering hospitality to family and friends adds quality to life. If you are afraid that holiday entertaining is a budget-buster, follow my tips below to lessen stress and costs so you and your guests can enjoy your entertaining to the fullest.
I have also included my recipe for Creamy Corn Pudding, a delicious take-anywhere side dish that is perfect for any type of holiday entertaining. Please enjoy with my recipe for Pumpkin CrÃ¨me Trifle. Remember, you are giving a gift to those near and dear by expressing your hospitality. My very best wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season!
Author of Easy Entertaining for Beginners
- How much can you afford to spend? Ask yourself this question before you invite guests. Set a budget, choose a menu and then invite the amount of guests you can afford. If you are not sure how to put together a menu, there are many available on the internet. Also, I have menus with easy recipes in my book.
- Writing things down helps you to stay organized and reduces stress. You won’t wake up several times the night before in panic telling yourself not to forget some important task or detail you just remembered!
- Think outside the box. Just because your budget does not allow for a full-blown dinner party, that does not mean you cannot invite guests into your home and extend your hospitality. Host a Cookie Exchange, an Ornament-Making Party (with munchies), a Potluck, Brunch or an After-Dinner Party.
- Use free e-vites. Online invitations are designed to make a party planner’s life so much easier. You can go to one central place to manage your event. Design your e-vites; send them to guests’ email addresses, cell phones, Twitter & Facebook. Check your RSVP’s online. If you prefer mailed invitations, make and print them with your computer.
- Simplify in other areas. Instead of baking 12 different types of Christmas cookies, just bake 3 or 4. Instead of decorating the entire house from stem to stern, concentrate your efforts on the dining table or the room you are entertaining in. You don’t want your holidays to be a blur of exhausting activity that leaves you needing a week to recuperate!
- Pace yourself. The biggest mistake you can make is to wait until the day your guests are coming over to do all the preparation on the same day.
- Make a shopping list and shop 1-2 days before your event. Prepare as many as the recipes in advance as possible so you are not running around the last minute as guests are arriving.
- Purchase seasonal items such as pumpkin, squash, root veggies, apples, pears, etc. They are cheaper and taste better in your recipes.
- Fill in your menu with a few well-chosen purchased items such as dips and desserts. If you are having a larger gathering, shop in bulk at a warehouse store to save lots of money.
- Set the dining table and/or buffet table the night before. Two hours before your guests arrive, take time for yourself to get dressed and ready. Turn on the music, light the candles and greet your guests at the door. This will set a relaxed, friendly tone for your gathering.
Holiday Table Decorating:
- Use a pretty basket filled with greenery, pinecones, artificial floral picks and battery operated lights on the table.
- Citrus is a winter fruit. It is inexpensive, adds beautiful color and fragrance. Add lemons, limes, oranges to bowls, clear glass containers or apothecary jars. Push whole cloves into the skin of citrus for a delightful spicy-citrusy aroma to the table that pairs well with the scent of fresh greens.
- Use a large serving tray or square trays and fill with a grouping of pillar candles. Wrap a length of decorative, fabric ribbon around each candle and secure with a sewing pin. Always use caution when decorating with candles.
- Using folding chairs? Fasten a length of pretty garland to the back of each chair and hang an ornament with the guest’s name written on it.
Creamy Corn Pudding
1 – 14.75 oz. can corn, drained
1 – 14.75 oz. can creamed corn
2 extra large eggs, beaten
1 – 8 oz. pkg. corn muffin mix
½ cup butter or margarine, melted (1 stick)
½ cup light sour cream
½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13″ casserole or baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together except for cheese. Pour into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake 10-15 minutes more or until butter knife inserted in casserole comes out clean.
Pumpkin CrÃ¨me Trifle
1 – 18.25 oz spice cake mix plus ingredients listed on package.
1 ½ cup candied pecans, purchased (produce aisle)
1 – 3.4 oz. pkg. instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 ½ cups cold low fat milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups whipped topping, plus 1 ½ cups more for topping
Bake spice cake mix according to package directions in 9 x 13″ baking pan. In a medium mixing bowl blend the pudding and milk and whisk until thickened slightly. Stir in pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in 1 ½ cups whipped topping, cover and chill for one hour.
Cool and cut cake into small pieces and layer in a trifle bowl with pumpkin crÃ¨me and candied pecans. Repeat for a total of 3 layers. Top with remaining whipped topping, sprinkle with a bit of pumpkin pie spice and serve. May be made 1-2 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
By Patricia Mendez copyright 2009