Archive for the ‘Seasonal Entertaining’ Category

How To Entertain On Winter Weekends

February 4th 2011

winter How To Entertain On Winter Weekends

Winter weekends can make people feel a bit of cabin fever, and certainly they will feel homebound. But there are ways to overcome feeling stuck in a rut due to the inclement weather that can come with winter weather. For example, you can host a variety of events in your home for your guests to enjoy. You can host a movie night. Make it extra interesting by going beyond simply playing a few DVDs. Host your own movie festival based on actors, themes, or plots. If your guests love a certain actor or actress, feature movies that they star in. If your guests love movies about a time period, or a genre such as mobster movies, then show a few of those. You get the idea, and you can get really creative with your choices. You can also plan snacks and drinks around your movie festival that tie in. You can also create excitement with a game night. Plan games to play. Send out invitations based around those games, and serve food that is driven to compliment the mood of the games. This ideas works really well with poker games. You can even get very creative with poker night, by creating themes around your poker games. You can do a night at the casinos, speakeasies, or a modern theme. You can finally host wine and cheese nights. These are wonderful and sophisticated events that can work with the right music and company. There are so many ways that you can enjoy the company of others, and the simple pleasures of life without having to leave home during the winter.

Posted by admin under Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Thanksgiving Entertaining Made Easy

November 10th 2010

th Thanksgiving Entertaining Made Easy
Thanksgiving is a very important holiday to a lot of families. It is a time when distant relatives get together for a meal and share old memories and make new ones. It is also one of the more stressful times for you if you happen to be the one hosting the get-together.

You want everything to be perfect so you bring out your fine dinnerware and WMF flatware for the occasion. You bake your old standbys and clean your home until it sparkles. Once the event is over you are left with a mountain of leftovers and dirty dishes to clean up.

Make things easier on yourself. You deserve to enjoy the holiday too rather than being strapped to the stove. Here are a few tips to make Thanksgiving entertaining go a little easier on you:

  • Cook in advance. You can cook most of the foods you will be serving in advance and simply warm them up right before meal time. Spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving cooking and freezing foods so you won’t be so worn out on the big day.
  • Ask for help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Ask relatives to cook side items or if they can’t do that, ask them to help you serve or clean up afterwards.
  • Plan the day ahead of time. Even if you have years of Thanksgiving entertaining under your belt, it is always a good idea to plan the day well in advance so you have enough dinnerware and won’t need to dash to the store for a forgotten recipe ingredient.
  • Go easy on yourself. You are probably the only one who expects you to be perfect so relax and enjoy your day as much as possible. Who really cares if you burn the biscuits? The food isn’t what is important about Thanksgiving, it is spending time with your loved ones and you don’t want to miss it because you spend all your time in the kitchen.

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Summer Party Decorating Checklist for the Beginner Planner

August 26th 2010

list Summer Party Decorating Checklist for the Beginner Planner

Planning a summer party can be intimidating for a beginner. You have so many things to look into that it can seem like a never-ending stream of concern, issues and worries. Yes, this is true even when the party is a relatively small one.

Fortunately, you have the following summer party decorating checklist to get you through the planning stage. With this checklist on your side, you can organize a successful party with less hassle, less cost and less worry.

Table Settings
The tables are important components of a summer party for the simple reason that the guests have to eat on a comfortable platform. We suggest looking at the following aspects to make for great table settings:

• Crisp table cloths or table runners in summery colors
• Paper or cloth napkins to coordinate with the table cloths
• Dinnerware, which can either be casual or formal depending on the theme
• Flatware from forks and spoons to steak knives and butter knives, if necessary
• Glassware including glasses, mugs and cups as well as water pitchers
• Barware like assorted cocktail glasses, coasters and mixers are also necessary, if you intend to offer alcoholic drinks
• Salt and pepper shakers

And of course, don’t forget the chairs either. Your guests will appreciate comfortable chairs to rest on after the dancing and singing of the party.

Decorations
A summer party decorating checklist will be incomplete if it does not include the decorations for the venue. Said décor will depend on the theme of the party, which can range from just a few summer plants to elaborate lights setup.

• Place candles and lanterns in strategic places like the tables and the trees to provide light as well as act as insect repellants (citronella)
• Set the ambience of the venue with the right music, which can either be provided by a live band or with a DJ using a CD machine
• Scatter inflatable toys on the pool if you are planning a pool party. Add in a few palm plants, mini-torches and even seashells to add a tropical feel

Your choice of decorations should complement the theme of the party. There is no need to go over the top of your budget is tight.

Food
The star of any party is almost always the food since there is no sense in inviting guests without offering sustenance. After all, even you will become hungry with the activities, games and hobnobbing.

We suggest looking at the theme of the party and the tailoring the menu on it. Thus, if your summer party is the tea party kind, then teas, sconces and pastries are the order of the day. If it is a beach or pool party, go for finger foods, soda and lemonade. If it is a barbecue party, meat and beer are on top of the menu.

There are other things that should be on your summer party decorating checklist, of course, like favors. But if you already have these three important things on the list, then you should be alright.

Posted by admin under Decorations & Summer Entertaining | 3 Comments »

Three Ways to Host a Summer Party For Less

August 19th 2010

party cake

Of all the seasons of the year, it is summer that presents the most possibilities for throwing great parties. You have the warm sun on your back, the brilliant colors to dazzle your eyes and the sounds of nature coming alive in a vibrant way. Add in the lazy days, cool breezes and great company and you have every reason to celebrate the season with a party.

The trick is in knowing how to host a summer party for less cost, less effort and less time. Well, this should be easy enough with the following three ways.

Sun, Sand and Sea
Summer is equated with the sun, sand and sea. Thus, it is logical that the beach is the best way to hold a party in summer without the hassle of thinking about elaborate decorations, complex cuisines and formal ambience. Just bring finger foods, barbecues and cool drinks to the nearest beach – coupled with your bikinis and sunscreens, of course – and off you and your guests on a lazy day of sunbathing, swimming and just lazing around.

But of course, if the beach is far away or it is too polluted with oil slicks, then the pool is the best alternative. Your decorations can include inflatable floats on the pool, colored lanterns on the trees and a few palm plants. Your menu can be as simple as the one on the beach, with many of your guests probably going potluck. Think mango and tomato salsa with nachos and chips, hotdog and marshmallows on a stick, iced tea and lemonade and even a homemade cake, all of which require less expenditure.

Fly Me to the Moon
An imaginative way to host a summer party for less is to take advantage of the clear black sky during the season. The full moon with its diamond stars are the perfect backdrop to a night out with family and friends while enjoying the food brought in picnic baskets.

Again, you can ask everybody to bring potluck food for sharing with everybody although you can always prepare the majority of the menu. Your food choices can include sandwiches, fried chicken and apple pie with lemonade on the side. All of these food items are comfort food in many ways – just the right thing to enjoy under the starry skies.

You need not even worry about the venue. Go to the local park and hold your summer party there for free.

Garden of Eden
If you want to host a summer party for less, your garden is probably the best place to do so. You already have the decorations in the form of the plants and flowers. You already have the natural ambience. You already have the venue for free.

Now, all you need to do is to take out the tables, cover them with your favorite tablecloths and set it with your summery cutlery. Your menu can be anything that your kitchen can cook up – just dress up your everyday recipes with special touches and you can become the new chef on the block. Your favors can be seed packets of your favorite summer blooms.

You can host a summer party for less money, less effort and less time. Use your imagination, use your available resources and use your family and friends’ generosity by asking for assistance even if it means going potluck.

Posted by admin under Party Food & Summer Entertaining | No Comments »

Party Planning ideas for summer- 2010

July 22nd 2010

cupcakes Party Planning ideas for summer  2010

With the summer months rolling around, people might find themselves stuck with the task of planning a family reunion, or other event. Of all the details necessary to make an up-coming event successful, planning a dinner menu always proves to be the hardest “hurdle” to tackle.

Even more stressful, is when persons have hosted so many parties, they have exhausted every possible menu combination known to man. Or, at least, so they think!

Party planners who find themselves in this pickle should fear not. They may think they have tried every possible recipe and menu combination, but as many as they might have tried, there are always new menu ideas being created everyday, ready for them to try.

Take for example, a tri-cultured menu which might include dishes native to other countries. Chinese and Indian cuisine are surprisingly delicious and would give guests to the bash a chance to try something new! It may also be safe to conclude that none of the prospective guests have ever tried Ackee and Salt fish- a dish native to the island of Jamaica?

A tri-cultured menu is an innovative idea, and can be pulled off with the right balance of savory, sour, sweet and spicy dishes. Speaking of spicy: many ethnic dishes are traditionally prepared with hot and spicy pepper. If a tri-cultured menu is chosen, then the party planner should also prepare a detailed beverage menu. Milk shakes and other frozen drinks would compliment this type of food very well!

Having determined what is to be served at the event, the planner may then consider: “do I order a mix of meats and “sides” from each restaurant, or do I try cooking these dishes myself?” Whatever the decision is in this regard, it will be a most critical decision, as the décor or layout of the venue, has not yet been planned. Not to mention preparation of fruit punch, frozen cocktails and other mixed drinks.

So now that we have worked out the perfect summer buffet for this gathering, let us review the menu line-up to be served. Here is a hypothetical list that you can “tweek” to perfection!

  1. Indian dishes (source, amishaindiancuisine.com) – appetizers: Vegetable Lentil Soup, served with Garlic Nan (unleavened baked bread stuffed with garlic). Main course: Shrimp Curry, Lamb Karahi (lamb cooked in wok with herbs and spices), Bengan Aloo (eggplant sautéed in a garlic blend).
  2. Chinese dishes (source, chinatowninn.net) – as part of the main course: Egg Foo Yung- Beef, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Pepper Steak.
  3. Jamaican dishes (source, Jamaicans.com/cooking/)- as part of the appetizers: Salt Fish Fritters. As part of the main course: Ackee and Salt fish served with Fried Dumplings, and Boiled Yam, Boiled Dumplings and Boiled Green Bananas.
  4. Side dishes- plain white rice; potato salad; creamed sweet potatoes; pumpkin pie; ripe avocado (sliced); lightly steamed beet root (sliced); pumpkin rice (Jamaican-style); fried rice (Chinese-style).
  5. Desserts- strawberry cheese cake (serve cold); cake with icing (try Betty Crocker cake mix); ice-cream (offer 2 flavors).
  6. Posted by admin under Hostessing & Seasonal Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | No Comments »

Find Out What Every Summer Party Must Have and Have It

July 8th 2010

quiz1

A summer party must have is family and good friends. This is the perfect time to connect with the folks you know for an afternoon of relaxation and fun. Catch up with your brothers and sister, their kids, cousins, aunt and uncles anyone you may or may not see very often. You probably have friends you don’t see as often as you would like to as everyone seems to have busy schedules these days. Take the opportunity to invite co-workers and socialize outside of the office for an afternoon. Forget the water cooler talk and talk sports, hobbies, recent or upcoming vacations – anything other than what a dope the boss is. The collection of family and friends might require a softball game be played or a horseshoe tournament might break out. Or maybe a volleyball or badminton game might erupt. Don’t forget games for the kids. You want them to have fun and not be tugging at your hand out of sheer boredom. It is doubtful the competitive spirit will be doused, unless it rains.

A summer party must have is good food. Whether it is pot luck or host provided, have a variety of food on hand. If your grilling skills are up to par, cook up 2 or 3 of the following: burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken wings, ribs, corn or shrimp. Have some appetizers ready when your guests arrive. Maybe some crackers and cheese, pretzels and dip, deli meat roll ups, bite size grilled pizza, shelled peanuts or red pistachio nuts. Provide plenty of drinks to keep your guests hydrated. In tubs or coolers full of ice, chill soda, water, juice boxes, beer and wine. After your guests arrive and before you offer them appetizers point them in the direction of the drinks. Cups are optional but straws might be helpful for the kids. Don’t forget the watermelon and s’mores. It is practically the law those two items be on any summer party menu. Oh, yes. Be environmentally conscience and recycle everything you can.

A summer party must have is fun. As the host it is up to you to make sure everyone has a good time. Introduce your guest to those they don’t know. Find common ground for them to discuss if necessary. Introduce the kids to each other and encourage them to play a game or two together. When it is time to eat, the kids just might like each other enough to take their lunch and sit off by themselves and chat, leaving the adults to do the same. Introduce some games into the afternoon or evening. In addition to horseshoes and volleyball, a fun idea might be to write down on slips of paper famous lines from movies. Each guest that wants to play picks a slip and then works their movie line into the conversation. Keep track of how many lines each participant guesses. Perhaps a prize can be awarded at the end of the day for the winner.

Posted by admin under Hostessing & Party Food & Seasonal Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | No Comments »

Host a Casual 4th of July Party and Let the Good Times Roll

June 24th 2010

quiz1

A summer time celebration doesn’t have to involve a lot of work, especially if you are on vacation. Host a casual 4th of July party and let the good times roll. Keeping it simple is the word of the day. Hot dogs and hamburgers or sausages and chicken wings or some combination of the 4, along with potato salad or macaroni salad will keep the troops fortified and happy. A simple menu won’t keep anyone tied to the grill all afternoon or evening and all will enjoy the festivities.

A corn on the cob extravaganza might be a good way to host a casual 4th of July party and wrap up the evening.Build a fire in the outdoor fireplace and boil up a kettle of homegrown corn on the cob. I am sure there are a multitude of farm stands with fresh picked corn for sale. Gather the kids together to husk the corn and have it ready when the fireworks go off. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks while enjoying corn on the cob. You’ll revel in the melted butter dripping down your chin and a nib let or two gets stuck between your molars. You can’t get any more American than that.

Keep your guests hydrated with plenty of cool fluids. Fill a couple of tubs with ice and keep them filled with soda, water, beer and wine. Be sure to keep the tubs in the shade and stash a couple of extra bags of ice in the freezer.

Plan and organize games for the kids to keep them busy while the adults chat and catch up. If you are near the beach, a few hours of sand castle building and swimming will be a given. If the beach has wind, bring along a supply of kites for the kids. Some of the adults may even join in on the kite flying fun. How about a game of horseshoes? The horses probably have their summer foot wear on and the shoes are available for a pitching good time. Who knows, maybe horseshoes will become the unofficial tournament of the Fourth of July. When the kids need a break, break out the popsicles. There is nothing that says summer or the Fourth of July more than sitting in the shade and cooling off with a grape Popsicle dripping down your arm. And of course, let the kids entertain themselves for a while. Just keep an eye on them.

Don’t forget your Fourth of July decorations. Make sure the red, white and blue is flying extra proudly that day. Red, white and blue balloons tied in bunches around the yard will give that festive look and at the end of the day, let the kids release the balloons into the wild blue yonder. Or save the release for after the fireworks. Line your drive or walk with flags and allow your guests to take them home after the party is done.

If you want to host a casual 4th of July party, remember to keep it simple. If everyone pitches in to help, everyone will enjoy the festivities.

Posted by admin under 4th of July & Seasonal Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | 2 Comments »

The Elegant Salad

April 25th 2010

nasturtiums small The Elegant SaladThere is nothing more refreshing than the first salads of the season. After being pent up inside the house with warm stews and possibly more Swiss chard than one can or should consume, new veggies are definitely a requirement.

Salad becomes my default meal in the summer once it’s too hot to bear turning on the stove. In spring it seems more like a privilege to have a salad for my main course. Especially when I’m harvesting the lettuce from my own home garden. I have several varieties such as iceburg, Romain, deer tongue, red oak leaf, red romaine, mesclun mix, and spicy baby Asian green mix. If you don’t have any space to grow your own, a quick trip to your local farmers market will give you even more choices. Try as many heirloom varieties as you can. You won’t find them in your supermarket because they don’t ship well and some are only available for a short time in the spring and fall.

One way to dress up your salad is to serve it on Noritake colorwave plates. My favorites are the accent plates. Make sure to garnish the salad with a few surprises such as fresh strawberries and goat cheese, or toasted nuts and dried berries.

My favorite way to elevate a salad is by adding edible flowers. Make sure you are buying culinary grade or eating ones you grow yourself. If they were not grown as food, they may be sprayed with chemicals that you do not want to ingest. I grow nasturtiums which is a beautiful vining plant with edible leaves and flowers. The leaves add a peppery taste to the salad and the petals add so much color that you can even make a side salad out of just lettuce and nasturtiums.

Don’t underestimate what you can add to a salad. Use leftover steak, chicken, even steamed asparagus to make it a heartier meal. A salad doesn’t have to always be dainty. You can serve black beans, pulled chicken, avocado and salsa on top of a crunchy lettuce and even the biggest working man can fill up on it!

One thing I love to do is serve a salad that I toss in a dressing, rather than serve the dressing on the side. I find you can use so much less dressing that way and it allows the flavors to meld in a magical way when each lettuce leaf is perfectly coated. It’s great for dieters too, since you can easily triple the amount of calories with extra dressing.

Posted by Myriam under Garden & Hostessing & Party Food & Spring Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | 5 Comments »

Have a Hot Dog Party

April 22nd 2010

cookout 002 Have a Hot Dog PartyHot dogs are the perfect cookout foods and they work great for parties too. I always plan a few parties a year around them. I like to have campy parties and weenies scream campy!

Have your friends wear their best touristy gear for a fun costume party addition. It’s easy to forget the stress of your week once you’re in plaid Bermuda shorts, sandals with socks and have binoculars or a camera around your neck.

Make sure to have a tropical fruity drink to accompany your festive fare. Something that looks good with an umbrella straw tucked away in it. I usually choose a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. They may be predictable, but everyone loves them.

You could even go red-neck gourmet and make a hot dog enchilada casserole. Spread about 2 cups of pre-made chili over the bottom of a greased rectangle baking dish. Wrap a tortilla around each hot dog and arrange on top of chili. Top with the rest of the chili and shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven between 30 – 40 minutes. Serve topped with crumbled Fritos.

If you go for the traditional hot dog feast, make sure to have tons of toppings for your guests. Ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish are requirements. Make a Carolina dog by topping it with cole slaw and chili. You could also make a Greek salad dog with feta, olives, chopped tomatoes, red onion, and touch of Greek dressing. Feel free to add gourmet extras like roasted garlic, red peppers, goat cheese or even nacho cheese.

If it’s raining or you just don’t feel like cooking outside, use your slow cooker. I have a Crockpot trio that has 3 small slow cookers on one base. If you have lots of time you can heat the hot dogs up in the slow cooker. Personally I like to heat them on the stove and keep them warm in the slow cookers. I put veggie dogs in one, turkey dogs in another, and veggie chili in the last one. This way everything’s ready for people as they drop in.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Hostessing & Party Food & Spring Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | 5 Comments »

Grow a White Garden

April 16th 2010

moonflower Grow a White Garden

This year plan ahead for your outside parties and add in some easy drama to your yard. A white garden is simply different white flowers that are grouped together. While it sounds uneventful, it will catch the attention of all your guests once a little moonlight hits it.

You see, the beauty of a solid white section in your garden is that once night falls it almost appears to glow. It’s simply that white reflects the moonlight more than darker colors, but you don’t have to tell any of your guests that.

If you have a small patch of garden to spare try planting a few of these (in white varieties, of course):

  • alyssum
  • baby’s breath
  • bachelor button
  • petunia
  • yarrow
  • zinnia
  • inpatients

If you don’t have space in your yard (or a yard at all) buy a container and plant a mixture of the above list for your patio or balcony. My very favorite white flower is a vine called moon flower. You can easily start it from seed. Just make sure you have a trellis or tee pee shaped bunch of bamboo for it to climb up. They get about 15 feet tall, but you can have a shorter trellis and wind the tendrils to get it where you want it as it grows.

It will take a few weeks for it to get going, but once it does you’ll have beautiful blooms every evening, all summer long. Moon flowers are about 4 – 6 inches big and last only for one evening. Keep an eye out because a flower can open in a matter of minutes if the weather is just right.

The vine gets covered with buds, so you will get a few each evening once it starts blooming. It’s a relative of the morning glory, which only opens in the morning. It is an annual so it only lasts one season. But it is easy to harvest its seeds in the fall. Just let the vine dry out and bring in any seed pods you find on it inside. You’ll have a few handfuls to plant next year.

Posted by Myriam under All About the Home & Garden & Summer Entertaining | 3 Comments »

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