Archive for the ‘Winter Entertaining’ Category

Breakfast on Christmas Morning

December 23rd 2009

jgs christmassparkle  Breakfast on Christmas MorningWe can all remember waking up on Christmas morning when we were little. It’s always magical to wake up with the sun and run in to see what Santa left you under the tree. But we’re the grownups now and while that doesn’t dampen the excitement, it does mean we need to think about making breakfast!

If you’re a planner you can put on a slow cooker of cranberry-orange oatmeal in the slow cooker. Serve it with some toasted pecans and extra dried cranberries on the side. If you normally pour milk over your oatmeal, try using orange juice instead. Another great variation is to make a spiced oatmeal, top with eggnog and freshly grated nutmeg.

If eggs are more your style try making a southwest breakfast casserole that has eggs, sausage, peppers and cheese. It needs to cook for 8 hours, so you can put it together the night before and wake up to a hearty breakfast. You could also cook up a quiche a day or two before and serve it warm or at room temperature with some sliced oranges, pears, and apples.

Of course you can make waffles or pancakes. They don’t take that much time to make from scratch and the varieties are endless. Try making gingerbread waffles or chocolate chip pancakes topped with minty crushed candy canes.

If you want something sweet that’s even easier French toast may be the answer. My favorite holiday variation is to mix the eggs with eggnog and nutmeg.  Then dip the thick sliced bread in. You could also use slices of stollen or panettone to soak up the custard for an interesting twist.

Muffins are always a favorite in my house. I try to freeze a few from my weekly batch so I can just heat up homemade muffins whenever I need them. Gingerbread, cranberry-apple, apple topped with candied walnuts, chocolate-banana, the sky’s the limit. Take a look on and do a search on muffins. I’m sure you’ll find a few combination you would have never thought of.

Another favorite of mine is breakfast burritos. I stuff mine with scrambled eggs and potatoes mixed with a smokey chipolte salsa. Make sweet quesadillas by spreading the tortillas with nutella and then toast them in your pan. It’s similar to a crepe.

No matter what you make serve it up on your best Noritake dinnerware. You’ll feel elegant even if you’re in your fuzzy slippers.

Posted by Myriam under Holiday Entertaining & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

White Elephant Exchange

December 19th 2009

elephant White Elephant ExchangeI love to do a white elephant exchange at my holiday get togethers. You want to have at least 5 or 6 people to make it fun, but there is no limit to have many people can participate above that. Each person needs to bring a wrapped present so it’s a surprise for the person opening it. As people arrive you will put all the gifts on a table to be picked later.

It’s often more of a funny gift exchange that happens at most holiday work parties. You can do a gag gifts if you want, but you can also tell people a theme and to bring things they would really want to take home themselves. As in any gift exchange you will want to set a price range so everyone is on the same page.

Personally, I love the funny kind. In the past I’ve gotten usb fuzzy-bear-hand-warmers, a ceramic moose, and boxes of chocolates. Watching someone open a silly gift can really bring laughter back into this stressful season. You’ll be surprised at what becomes the most wanted gift!

The white elephant exchange starts with each person picking a number from a bowl. There will be a table with all the gifts wrapped up for people to select from so people don’t know what’s in them. After all it’s supposed to be a surprise.

The person who picked number one will pick a gift from the table, open it, and show it to everyone. The next person (#2) gets to decide if they want to ‘steal’ number 1′s gift or pick one to unwrap themselves. If number 1′s gift is taken they choose another gift from the pile and starts all over.

There are a few rules and you may find that some people feel strongly about their variations. I say go by the host’s rules. Everyone has a rule that states that you can’t steal back a gift that was just stolen from you. Meaning if person 1 can’t immediately steal back their gift if person 2 took it. This continues throughout the numbers people selected.

One variation is that after all the gifts are open person 1 gets to decide if they want to keep their gift or steal someone else’s. If they steal one then that person steals one, and so on.

Most people agree that the third time a gift is stolen it’s out of the game and with a really large group of people it’s important. As you can see this game can take a long time if people keep stealing from one another. But that’s part of the fun!

Posted by Myriam under Gifts & Holiday Entertaining & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Secret Santa Party

December 16th 2009

santa cat Secret Santa PartyShow your friends that you’re thinking of them this holiday season without breaking the bank. It’s nice to buy presents for everyone if you can afford it, but there are ways to spend less money and still have a ton of fun.

The traditional secret Santa requires a little planning but it’s not too late. Each person only buys one present and everyone leaves with something just for them. I like secret Santa because you can match people together and all but assure that everyone’s holiday will be a little happier. Of course you can also leave it up to fate and have people draw form a bag (or you can download a program that duplicates it right on your computer).

Either way you can send out email to let people know who they are buying for. It’s best to have a price range. Usually under 20 dollars, but if someone is making something make sure they take their time into account too. In fact if your friends are crafty you could have a completely handmade exchange.

You can arrange your party around an exchange theme if you want. Exchange ornaments, liquors, funny shirts, anything that you think all of your friends would like. This year I’m focusing on handmade items for my friends. Check out or for great crafty ideas.

Have everyone bring their favorite holiday dish for a nice buffet spread and put out on your bright red Pimento sengware dinnerware to create the perfect table. Ahead of time mix a nice drink with a bottle of sparkling wine and Chambord in a pitcher for a festive red drink. Also grab some lime sparking water and add some cranberry juice for your non-alcoholic alternative that’s just as pretty.

Send out an evite about your little soirée and give all the pertinent details to your friends. No matter how you decide to exchange gifts you will all enjoy celebrating the holidays together.

Posted by Myriam under Gifts & Holiday Entertaining & Occasions & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Make Holiday Cards with Your Friends

December 3rd 2009

christmascard1 Make Holiday Cards with Your FriendsAs you already know, I love to combine things. Almost any chore can be be made fun with a party and friends to work around. In fact, sometimes I even go grocery shopping with friends! Holiday cards can be a tough task for people like me who aren’t so good at getting things into the mail.

Selecting a card can be just as bad. So many boxed cards are geared to specific holiday traditions that aren’t necessarily appropriate for all of your friends. That’s why I’m having a holiday card making party this year.

You’ll need to get a few basic supplies at your local craft store. You can buy paper that is already cut and folded into a card size, or you could buy plain paper and make them in any size and shape you can think of. You can also buy ready made envelopes or make your own.

Pick up a few holiday themed stamps and colored stamp pads. If you have it in your budget, pick up a glue stamp pad and some glitter. It’s awesome to add somebling to your card. You could make paper snowflake cut outs and glue onto your card.

Still not feeling so inspired? Try looking at some of Martha’s cards, which are always breath taking.

This is a perfect party to have your friends bring the kids along. They love to create things and will inspire all your guests – including the adults. Have a sparkling cider or pour sparkling water into a glass half full of cranberry juice for some dressed up drinks for the kids. Go ahead and pop the cork on some champagne for the adults. Have a little Chambord to top the adults sparkly drink for an extra burst of flavor.

You may want to avoid the finger foods or you’ll find grease stains on your beautiful cards. If you think it’s a must, have the finger snacks before or after the card making session. I usually tend to have a cornbread topped chili pie or something thick that you eat with a fork. Of course, the kids should eat before they start making cards no matter what you are serving.

Ask everyone to bring Christmas stamps and you can address the cards and send them all off together in the morning. Have a nice dessert to celebrate your completed cards with. A super quick mousse can be made with a box of silken tofu, and a large handful of melted chocolate chips all blended in a food processor. Add a tablespoon of your favorite liquor and take it to the next level. I promise you, no one will know that it’s a healthy dessert and it takes less time to make than instant pudding!

Posted by Myriam under Children & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Occasions & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Throw an Ornament Making Party

November 30th 2009

dinnerware ornament Throw an Ornament Making PartyEver since I was in college I’ve hosted an annual Christmas tree decorating party. I’d buy a live tree and all my friends would make ornaments out of things they had around the house. You’d be surprised at how creative you can get when you don’t have the money to run out and buy ornaments. Cotton ball snowmen with felt cut out for their faces, paper cut out snowflakes, fresh oranges with cloves stuck in them all make an unique tree.

Now I have a whole supply of crafting supplies and tools, not to mention access to half price Michaels’ coupons. You can still make popcorn balls, string fresh cranberries, and create paper doll angels. But there’s a wide variety of crafting ideas for you to choose from. You can make ornaments from wire, cereal boxes, silk flowers, beads, yarn, and more. Need some help getting you ideas into reality? Disney’s Family Fun site has a ton of great ornament tutorials. I love the felted wreath one myself.

Decide on a few specific ornaments to make and purchase the supplies ahead of time. It’s a good idea to cover your dinner table with plastic bags and tape them securely underneath. If you will have kids at the party, you might want to put down a drop cloth too. It won’t make you happy if you have red paint on your beige carpet. But with the right precautions, there will be nothing to worry about.

Put on Christmas music to set the atmosphere. If your prefer play a few old Christmas movies or cartoons. Either way it will set the mood for your party. Make a Crockpot full of hot apple cider. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole peppercorns, and orange rind to make it taste really special. You can have a nice rum or bourbon for adults to add to theirs if they want. Next year I bet someone will ask you to make it again. It’s always popular at my house during the holidays.

People work up an appetite creating ornaments, so you’ll need to make some snacks. A tray of finger sandwiches is always a welcome sight. Make sure to include something for vegetarians, and make a few lettuce wraps if you have any friends with a gluten allergy. You can use the same fillings in the lettuce wraps. Bib lettuce or iceberg hold up the best as a wrap. They will all look beautiful arranged on a Noritake holiday plate. Assorted bar cookies are another winner. Peppermint brownies and cranberry blondies are beautiful additions to your spread. Your table will be all dressed up for Christmas as well.

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Be a Calm Holiday Hostess

November 20th 2009

dinnerware peppermint candy 1 Be a Calm Holiday HostessThe holiday season is starting and you may already be stressed out. It seems that the holiday season starts earlier every year. My parents said that because the end of the year just seemed to sneak up on them. Now, it’s from going into Lowe’s and seeing Christmas decorations up. And that’s before Halloween even starts!

The stores are marking down prices now to get the jump on Black Friday sales. The congestion in Costco makes my weekly errand something I won’t do on the weekend anymore. I hate being bumped into, but even worse is when someone actually hits you with a cart!

The hard part is really enjoying the holidays instead of letting them sap your energy. In the midst of taking care of everyone else, you really must take some time for yourself. A 5 minute coffee break isn’t going to do the trick. In fact, now is the perfect time to limit your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine, sugar, or even alcohol can actually make you more stressed out. They may seem to give you a burst of quick energy, but you will pay the price of being even more exhausted later.

Try cleaning up your house a little each day instead of in a marathon the day before your big holiday party. Make a batch of holiday cookie dough each week, and freeze most of the dough to easily bake an assortment for visitors. Depending on the type of cookie, you can even roll them out and put between sheets of wax paper. That way you don’t have to make 5 batches of different cookies at one time.

Stock up on cream, coffee, tea, and cocoa. This way you won’t run out. More people will just be dropping by to visit. Sharing time with close friends is the best way to get the holiday spirit.

Take a half an hour or so each morning, to do whatever your favorite things are. Simply read the paper with a nice mug of tea, or take a walk. Getting fresh air and exercise is a perfect way to de-stress yourself. It doesn’t hurt to start the day at your calmest. In fact, it can make you more tolerant of the stresses that may surround you during the day.

It goes without saying that getting the proper amount of sleep can make a world of difference. Running around can cause you to eat too many fast food meals. Make sure you have salads prepared ahead of time to take to work. Make slow cooker soups and stews, so you can have dinner waiting for you. There’s nothing better than a home cooked meal after a long, tiring day. Pull out your good Noritake dinnerware. Serve yourself up a bowl of comforting slow cooker baked potato soup. You may find these new good habits outlast the holidays.

Posted by Myriam under Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Throw a No Work Dinner Party

November 7th 2009

dinnerware sushi Throw a No Work Dinner PartyWith the holidays right around the corner, time with friends is at a premium. In addition to the typical holiday celebrations, you have to decorate the house, take care of work social obligations, not to mention shopping for the perfect gift for each of your loved ones.

There’s not much time for a proper dinner party so throw a lazy dinner party! No need for excuses about needing to clean your house since you won’t be having people over. You are still the hostess if you organize a dinner out with your friends.

Last year I arranged a dinner for 14 of my friends. Since they included picky eaters, holiday budgeters, and over workers it would not have happened if one of us didn’t take the initiative to go ahead and plan it.

The first thing to consider is how much everyone afford. Any price is fine if you’re treating. If not, always use the person on the tightest budget as your price gauge. You want everyone to be happy about dinner out, not worrying about giving something up to be there. The most important thing is to get everyone together. It doesn’t need to be at the fanciest restaurant in town.

The next thing on the list is making sure everyone can find something to eat at the place you pick. You need to think about the people who won’t eat fish, the ones who won’t eat veggies, and the vegetarians. It’s not hard to find a place that gives everyone has a few choices. Make a special effort for anyone who has food allergies. More places are offering dairy free and gluten free dishes on their menus. Call in advance with your reservation and most places will even make a special vegan dish without a fuss. The key is doing this in advance, if you wait until you are at the table it’s too late.

Choose a date, or range of dates to choose from, then send a mass email out to friends. Another great way to organize any event is through Through you can even let your guests suggest dates and times. You can ask for suggestions for places as well. But be prepared for a range from no answers to too many choices to get a group consensus on.

To keep within a budget see if there are any early bird special at your favorite places. This works especially well if you want to go to a fancier restaurant. At my fav place we get a 3 course meal for 30.00, normally that’s what an entree goes for. You can also look at You purchases a discount coupon through their website. They send out many codes for even more off  at the end of the month, so that’s the best time to score a great coupon. You can only use one per party, even if you sit at different tables.

Everyone will appreciate getting a dinner discount off the top. And you’ll have a great dinner party with no washing up!

Posted by Myriam under Fall Entertaining & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

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