As far as phobias go, forget spiders, clowns and heights. It's the thought of entertaining family and friends that tops the list of fears, an act that often morphs a calm and confident person into terror-filled wreck.
"Easy entertaining" isn't an oxymoron. You don't need to break a sweat, your back or the bank to become a fearless merrymaker. You just need a little pep talk. First, keep it simple. 'Tis not the season to be shining silver or churning butter...your guests will feel relaxed if you are. Second, create an inviting ambience by decorating with some whimsical, original, and fun touches...you can never go wrong with a shared laugh. Finally, if you follow these tips and shortcuts, you'll discover that eating, feeding and entertaining is a piece of cake. HOW TO UNLOCK THE ENTERTAINER IN YOUMENU PLANNING - Stand the heat AND stay in the kitchen
* Choose dependable recipes you're comfortable cooking. This isn't the time to experiment with that "interesting" Asian-Latin-French fusion turkey.
* Take advantage of your freezer and make soups, sauces and cookies in advance.
* Choose items that don't have to be prepared while your guests are milling about (read: no risotto).
* Serve buffet style. Line the counter with Kraft paper and use a marker to label each dish.FEED THE SENSES - Adding to the feast
* After you've assembled your props (few love hitting the dollar store), set your table the day before the event.
* Lay out serving dishes and utensils, labeling each with what it will be used for.
* Find thematic songs (see lists below) and assemble a great playlist. Music helps to make the mood.
* Have candles (scented throughout house, unscented near food) ready to be lit
* Use paper napkins whenever you can. Take a trip to the craft store and purchase a themed stamp and inkpad - this sort of personal touch goes a long way and leaves no one missing the fine linens.
* Candy isn't just for eating (though we always have bowls overflowing with sweet and salty treats)...it's for decorating too. If it's a games night, use 100 Grand candy bars as place cards, if it's an office party, glue Payday bars to inexpensive glass vases before filling them with flowers and if it's a Girls Night In, make swags out of candy necklaces tied together.
Here are some fun ideas to spice up your parties this year…A NORTH POLE PARTY"Let's be naughty and save Santa the trip."
-Gary Allen, country music singer
Grab your Christmas cardigan and pull up your stockings because we're heading North...as in...Pole. Joining the likes of the Claus clan, the red-nosed reindeer and an army of elves, this candy-coated, snowy supper will have everyone jingling all the way.Menu for Merrymaking
This easy and festive Christmas Eve Menu
will have you excited to cook for your friends & family!Songs for Sugarplums
Shake Hands with Santa Claus - Louis Prima & Kelly Smith
Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Holly Holy - Neil Diamond
Border Song (Holy Moses) - Aretha Franklin
The Saints Are Coming - U2 & Green Day
Sweet Secret Peace - Neil Finn
I'll Be Home For Christmas - Tony Bennett
My Favorite Things -The Supremes
Merry Christmas Baby - Stevie Wonder & Wyclef Jean
Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas - The Staple SingersDecking the Halls
* Wrap napkins using white faux fur and have faux fireplace DVD playing on the TV
* Use small reindeers, polar bears or compasses as place cards (affix names with letter stickers) and gift-wrap your table in lieu of linens
* Have drinks available for the naughty (Hot Toddies
) and the nice (Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
* Create a winter wonderland photo op spot
* Hold a contest for world's worst Xmas sweater/gift/ornament or a Brain Freeze milkshake-drinking contest - winner takes the prize of Klondike barsTHE BALL HAS DROPPED & HATS ARE OFF NEW YEARS BRUNCH"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions."
-Joey Adams, comedian
We know it's The Morning After, but we're positive that there's no better way to kick off a new year than with great food and friends. With a dress code of sweatpants/pajamas and a promise that losing weight/exercising/cleaning the garage/helping others/managing stress and reducing, reusing, recycling can start TOMORROW, who could resist this invitation?Fruitcake-Free Fare
We can't think of a better way to celebrate the first day of 2015 than with this Easy & Delicious Brunch Menu
. Moving Past Auld Lang Syne
New Year's Resolution - Carla Thomas & Otis Redding
This Will Be Our Year - OK Go
Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday - Stevie Wonder
This is the Future - Owl City
Tomorrow - Wings
New Year's Resolutions - The Therapy Sisters
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
New Year's Day - U2
Changes - David Bowie
Stayin' Alive - The Bee GeesLaid Back Beautifying
* Have place cards be dollar store sunglasses (hangover cure) with names put on in stickers
* Use pages from 2015 calendars as placemats
* Doing the vase-within-vase, fill the space between with lentils or black-eyed peas
* Line the centre of the table with resolutions that many people make - piggy banks (save more), upside down wine glasses (drink less), fitness props (exercise more), toy airplanes (travel more), candy cigarettes (stop smoking) etc.