Elegantly, efficiently, and economically …yes! There are two unalterable facts to consider: the holiday season is upon us and this miserable economy has hit our pocket books in a big way!
Whether you’re entertaining friends or business associates, you can do it at home. Forget pricey restaurants. That money is more wisely spent on other things. What you can also forget are the bags of chips, beer, and soda cans, paper plates, and plastic cutlery. These things are fine for the Fourth of July and birthday celebrations but certain holidays require bit more finesse.
First of all, decide if you want to invite people for lunch or dinner. Will it be casual or formal? Keep your invitation list manageable. It may be better to invite eight people at a time and do it twice than have sixteen people all at once. Another decision you must make is whether it will be a sit-down dinner or self-serve buffet.
Your advance planning schedule should include:
* the menu
* table setting and décor ( tablecloth or placemats?)
* background music selections ( nothing loud and brassy)
* areas you need to clear ( get rid of the clutter!)
* small gifts you may want to give (Check out the Dollar Store!)
Casserole recipes abound and they can be made well in advance. If you plan to serve salad, put the greens in a large salad bowl and place other vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and other salad items in partitioned dishes, Let guests select what they want in their salad. Restaurants do it and so can you!
If you’re serving meat that needs to be sliced, do it ahead of time.
Never put bottles of condiments on the table. Salad dressings, mustard, and catsup should be placed in small bowls with a serving spoon. Water glasses at the table should be filled ahead of time. A small folding table can hold other beverages. If you’re serving wine with the meal, place the bottle on a coaster near you, and pour the drinks. Another bottle can be placed at the opposite end of the table where your spouse or another guest can pour.
Dessert can be served on individual dishes from the kitchen or served at the table by you. Before serving dessert, you will want to clear the table. Never scrape plates or stack dishes in front of company. Dishes should be removed two by two from the table.
How about those after-dinner drinks? Your guests should be able to select from regular coffee, decaf, or tea. If you’re serving a liquor, be sure to have liquor glasses on hand.
Efficient hosting means preparing everything in advance. Your guests don’t want to see a frazzled person opening the door. Dirty pots and pans in the kitchen won’t be seen because the food preparation was done in advance and simply needs to be heated.
It is wise to have a repertoire of menus to rely on because the more often you make those dishes, the easier and quicker it becomes.
How economical can it be? It depends on what you choose to serve. A Swiss-turkey-ham bake serving six can be made for under ten dollars. It’s always a good idea to stock up on certain ingredients when they are on sale. For example, this recipe calls for Stove Top stuffing, water chestnut slices, cubed ham and turkey, cream of mushroom soup, and grated Swiss cheese. Supermarkets run specials on all these items from time to time so it pays to stock up on such items.
If you plan to buy take- out food, you will spend more money.
The elegant hostess will be well-aware of cultural diversity. If some of your guests celebrate a different kind of holiday, make an effort to learn about their celebration; then engage them in conversation about their holiday traditions.
‘Tis indeed the season to be jolly and you’re sure to find yourself brimming over with holiday glee once you begin to master the Triple E Way to holiday entertaining.