Posts Tagged ‘entertaining tips’


Here are some helpful tips on setting a holiday buffet…

One of my favorite things about entertaining at home is presentation– making things look pretty. There is something so fun about deciding what serving pieces to use, what looks good where and then having the whole thing come together just before the doorbell rings.
When you are planning to entertain, think about serving the food buffet style. This method of serving does two wonderful things:
• It keeps the host from being so tied to the food and the kitchen.
•It creates a casual atmosphere where guests feel more at ease and are much more likely to mingle.
Isn’t it awesome to watch your guests connect and have fun? Kind of the whole point of enteraining (well, that an excuse to eat too much good food!)
Another thing I love about buffet entertaining is that it allows the host to get the buffet set up in advance.
Whether you are doing a single or double-sided buffet, make sure all food is within easy reaching distance. You don’t want someone dragging their sleeve or shirt-tail through a bowl of cranberry sauce.
Most importantly, have fun with it! You are the artist and the buffet is your canvas. Get creative and let your personal style shine through.
Start by placing a cloth on your table, counter or whatever surface you are using for your buffet. It can be a neutral shade like white or cream, although my go-to standard is black (hides the spills and stains!). Use sheets for inexpensive and easy care table coverings.

Next, add height to your table. Strategically place boxes, books, whatever you have on hand that is sturdy to give you some height elements.

Now, add another cloth drape over your height elements. I like to use a cloth in the same color as the base cloth. The purpose of this covering is to hide the height elements. On top of this, I add a table covering in a contrasting color or pattern. For Thanksgiving, choose something in an earthy color. Or go wild and crazy and use burlap fabric or something rustic  (rustic… but clean!  You can purchase burlap by the yard at most craft or fabric stores.)

Add a centerpiece. You’ll want it to be off to one side and to the back, if it is a one-sided buffet or in the center for a double-sided buffet. It should be the highest point on your table.

Start layering in your serving pieces. You can get the table all set up today, put sticky notes on each piece labeling it so it will be easy to remember the mashed potatoes go in the big square bowl and green beans go in the medium round bowl, etc.

Finish off the look of the table with a few candles, pine cones or nuts. If you use candles, you might want to opt for the battery-operated variety. No open flame worries there.

Some other quick tips:

• If you want a cake stand and don’t have one, flip a sturdy bowl upside down and place a platter on top. To make sure the platter doesn’t slip, you could dab on a few drops of rubber cement, which is pretty easy to remove.

• To keep your hot foods hot, warm bricks in the oven then slip them under your table coverings (place them on thick pot holders so the heat doesn’t damage your table surface). Place casseroles or plates on top and the bricks will hold the heat.

• To keep cold foods cold, you can fill bowls with ice and nestle beneath your table coverings. Set your serving bowls in the bigger bowls or pans and food will stay chilled.

• Make sure you have plenty of plates, forks and napkins as well as glassware. When we entertain, it seems like it doesn’t take long until all the forks in the house are dirty!

However or wherever you spend Thanksgiving, I hope it is with people who make your heart smile and bring you joy.

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Right now is a fabulous time to stock up on basic entertaining pieces. With year-end and after Christmas sales going in most every store, you can find  pretty much everything you need to get started entertaining at ridiculously low prices.

Some of the finds you might look for are:

• Table linens – yes there are a lot of holiday patterns on sale, but if you look, you can also find some neutral whites or creams.

• Cloth napkins – if you want to impress your dinner guests, pick up a few. Just be prepared to go to the work of removing grease stains and keeping them pressed.

• Serving pieces – you can find bowls, platters, tiered trays, salad sets. Go for plain styles or patterns that can mix or match with pieces you may already own.

• Dishes – amid all the snowman and poinsettia patterned pieces, you’ll find some sets of plain white dishes. Pick up a box or two to make it easy to entertain. If you find them on a 50-75 percent discount, it won’t take too many parties before you are saving money by not buying paper plates. Not only that, but you’ll feel a bit like Emily Post when you set a beautiful table that your guests admire.

• Silverware sets – I’ve seen several in the past few weeks in with the holiday stuff. Grab a set or two if you are in need of more silverware.

• Extras – candles, placemats, chargers, bases for centerpieces, are all on sale with the holiday leftovers.

While you are at it, stock up for next Christmas on things like holiday napkins, wrapping paper (but only the good kind), greeting cards, ribbon, lights, and ornaments.

She Who Needs to Stock Up

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If you are the lucky one hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this week, here are some helpful hints for preparing for your guests. You can find these tips and more in my free Savvy Holiday Entertaining book!


Make sure the outside of your door is clutter and dirt free. Check the interior entry area and repeat the decluttering process. Have a candle and some flowers in your entry to create a welcoming atmosphere and scent as guests enter your home. Put down a mat both inside and outside the front door to help keep floors clean.


The kitchen truly is the heart of the home and where most people gather to chat. Clean the floors, clear off the counters and then wipe down. Give the fridge a quick wipe-down inside and out and polish the sink. Set out some decorations and have something for early arrivers to do while they wait for the party to get started.  Involved guests are more likely to mingle, which adds to the fun. You could have them roll silverware in napkins, chop up salad ingredients, arrange serving platters – anything they are comfortable doing.


Of all the rooms to clean fanatically, this is the one. Scrub everything, take out the garbage make sure faucets and mirrors are shiny. Add some flowers and a lit candle in this area. If the bathroom is clean and sparkling, it is likely no one will notice anything amiss in the rest of the house. Make absolutely sure there are extra hand towels, plenty of soap and toilet paper available. Although you hate to think of it, also have a plunger tucked away for a guest to find if necessary.

Gathering Room

In whatever room you are planning to set your buffet or eat the meal, spend a bit of time dusting, polishing, cleaning floors and creating a warm atmosphere with lighting, candles and music. It doesn’t have to be perfect and remember candlelight or dimmed lights hide a multitude of dust bunnies and smudges!

Coat Closet

If you have a coat closet, clean it out completely before the party. Make sure it is stocked with plenty of sturdy hangers. Enlist an older child or neighborhood teen to serve as a coat checker. Make sure they understand their duties before the guests arrive.

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In my skip down memory lane, today’s post in my week long sharing from my Grandma’s 1961 Betty Crocker cookbook is this fun page on table settings. It gives you some great tips and ideas. In the photo, you see a double-sided buffet.

Here is a two-page spread of a beautiful buffet set out for casual entertaining. Makes you kind of hungry, doesn’t it?

I’ve written in the past about how to set up a buffet. You can find the simple tips here. I’ve also taken photos on how to set one up quickly using a holiday theme. You can find it here.

You can find all sorts of fun tips and ideas on the Betty Crocker website as well. Go to the entertaining section here and see what wonders wait for your exploration!

Happy Entertaining!


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