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5 Simple Do's and 5 Don'ts For Holiday Entertaining...

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Deck the halls, the holidays are here! Time to open up your home and welcome friends and family for some yule time cheer. The end of the year brings about many feelings: joy, love, gratitude, and happiness, of course, but also perhaps a bit of Stress? Pressure? Anxiety?? After all, you're the host! During these months when celebrations are the star, everyone always remembers the party, no matter good or bad! So be sure to fit yourself in with the happy memories on January 1st, even if your guests' memories are a little fuzzy the next morning (in a good way)! Here are my top 5 do's and top 5 don'ts for holiday entertaining. Stella Rankin, Partner at PINCH FOOD DESIGN recently blogged on her top 5 do's and don'ts for holiday entering. (See other recent Huffington Post articles on Stella Rankin)

DO's

When it comes to the menu, cook items you feel comfortable with. The biggest party you'll be throwing this year is definitely not a time to experiment and subsequently burn down the kitchen, or spend the entire evening camped out with your face in the oven. Guest came to see you, not your bottom as you're bent over all night. As your friends have feelings, and hors d'oeuvres do not, tend to the people at your party instead of the snacks.

Keep in mind that success in food is all about balance. Make sure there is something for everyone, and keep in mind that no matter how adventurous people like to pretend they are, crowd favorites are always going to be recognizable comfort foods. Play around with a variety of meats, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian options, so all friends and family, no matter their dietary restrictions have enough to munch on as they also sip the night away.

On that note...serve alcohol! This might be an obvious one, but it's worth mentioning and paying attention to. No one wants to go to a dry holiday party unless, of course, they are in some dreaded detox. But for all other guests, don't feel like you need to over-think alcoholic offerings just because they're typically the most popular presence of the party. A simple wine and prosecco bar is perfect for this time of year, and if you want to add a specialty cocktail, feature what you're already offering! Here's a really simple Gin Sling cocktail perfect for the season:

Gin Sling cocktail
  • 1 1/2 ounce Gin
  • 3 quarter ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 simple syrup
  • Top with bubbles, pomegranate seeds and a freshly peeled lemon twist to garnish! Perfecto.

You'll want a design that wows the crowd, but that doesn't mean a shopping spree at Party City. Keep the look of your party simple and elegant. Pick two colors and make them your theme. Using neutral browns and greens, for example, you're able to capitalize on the best of what nature has to offer--perhaps even from your backyard! Find pine needles and wood, fresh green clippings, and use your secondary color for pops of brightness with your napkins, vintage glass ornaments, and votives.

Certainly easier said than done, but be sure to relax and enjoy the evening. Lead by example! If the host is at ease, having fun, and actively partaking in the party, so will your guests.

DON'T

While it's important to let yourself have fun, don't get too crazy! One or two drinks are encouraged--they will loosen you up and help take the edge off the hosting jitters, but six or seven and you might be sleeping with the boss or that deadbeat neighbor you swore you always hated. It truly is the season of giving, but perhaps not your dignity.

The nostalgia of Red Solo cups certainly takes you back to your college years, but aren't you glad to be far away from those? Don't use them at your party, unless, of course, you're throwing a dorm-themed party. But your party is not a frat party, and if you insist on plastic glassware, there are plenty of sophisticated options that don't burn your retinas.

Be mindful with your music selection and volume. Don't play the music too loud or play rave, dance-heavy music. This is not a nightclub in Meatpacking or even Burning Man, and for that, you should be grateful. Loud music discourages guests from mingling and getting to know each other. If you find your friends saying "sorry, I can't hear you," the music is definitely too loud.

Don't be pushy when encouraging your guests to eat or drink. It's a natural inclination of a host to want everyone to enjoy themselves, but you might not know of someone's personal state. A friend might be pregnant, or another might have a food allergy that they might not want to share. No one wants a trip to the emergency room over the holidays, and you certainly don't want it to be because of you.

In a list of don'ts, here's a never: never lose sight of why you are entertaining. Having a party is meant to be fun, to bring friends and loved ones together, and during the holidays, celebrate another year passed, and a new, prosperous one ahead. Keep it simple so you, too, can enjoy the evening.

Reference Source: Stella Rankin (Partner at PINCH FOOD DESIGN)

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