With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I would share my favorites for holiday entertaining to make this season go a little smoother.
Wreath: Holiday entertaining starts at the front door. I like simple and durable when it comes to decor, so my favorite front door wreath is a real magnolia wreath. They usually hold up well through the season, have a shiny appeal and do not shed like other live wreaths (pine needles) for the holiday season. I have found cheap DIY instructions for both a live, green versionand a brown, dried one.
Turkey: I am not a fan of the traditional way of cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, so my husband and I tried grilling it a few years ago. Since then, I cannot wait for Thanksgiving turkey each year. I have to also admit that I love the fact that my husband is the one who is responsible for cooking it rather than me. Don’t know how to grill a turkey? It’s simple (or so I’ve heard from my husband). Check out this step-by-step guide to grilling your bird.
Dessert: There is nothing more inviting during intimate holiday gatherings than a fresh pie baking in the oven, a shiny stainless steel tea kettle gently whistling on the stove and the conversation of good friends around the kitchen table (probably waiting around for that pie to be done!). Speaking of pies, I have 3 favorite pies to share with you:
- Perfect Marriage Harvest Pie (a fruit pie with a pecan crumble crust that will leave you weak at the knees)
- The Best Pecan Pie Ever (deemed by several friends and family members, including a couple of impossible-to-please pecan pie connoisseurs)
- My Favorite Pumpkin Pie (which is not pumpkin at all – it’s a butternut squash pie!)
(By the way, pies also make great gifts to neighbors, friends, teachers, and even the postal carriers.)
Like the spiffy 3-tier oven baking rack I used to bake these pies? Best investment ever for making food for large crowds (like during the holidays), multiple pies for the church bake sale, or when stocking up on freezer casseroles. It’s been one of my favorite go-to kitchen items several times during the year.
Cider: What’s the best cider? Orange cranberry mulled cider, of course! Each year I have made this, I have had almost every person who drank it ask me for the recipe. And it’s EASY!
Breakfast for a Crowd: It’s so wonderful having family get together for the holidays, but it can be so hard and labor intensive to get breakfast going in the morning. These recipes are my favorite not only for the yumminess factor, but also because you can prepare them some of them the night before and avoid the morning rush. Then all you have to worry about are the dishes!
- Slow Cooker Breakfast Sausage Casserole
- Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
- Crock Pot Egg Brunch Casserole
- Hearty Mozzarella and Ham Stuffed Bread
- Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups
(I didn’t say they were fat-free!)
Decorative Food: Okay, so I’ve never made this, but I thought I might try it this year. Take your traditional cheese ball, shape it, add some almonds and turn it into a pine cone (for Christmas) or even a turkey (for Thanksgiving).
Metal Polish: A bit odd to include in a holiday guide, I know, but being the OCD cleaner that I am, I had to include it. To me, nothing says “relax and enjoy company” more than a clean kitchen. That means cleared off counters, dishes in the dishwasher, swept off floors, a clean sink and sparkling fixtures. The best polish I have seen is Peek – it even gets the hard water stains out when nothing else can!
Holiday Music: What’s a holiday gathering without a little music? Even though my husband is opposed to anything Christmas before December, I love to start playing Christmas music as soon as I can (I’d decorate the tree in October if I could). Besides, it really sets the ambience and spreads good cheer and warm fuzzy feelings, right? My favorite holiday compilation is from Pottery Barn. Don’t you just love the music they have playing in their store? Actually, any and all of the CD’s they put out are absolutely fabulous, but I only own a couple of sets, one being this essential Christmas trilogy.
Additional Seating: When you’re engrossed in that kitchen conversation but ran out of pie (or you want to run away from eating any more of it), move yourselves over to the fireplace to enjoy its warmth and play some games. At our home, we use these easily portable and comfortable floor seats for just about anything – playing card games, playing the wii, reading, watching the fire, watching TV, using the laptop. I like them because they look nice, have adjustable angles(5 positions from full recline to upright), are washable (cover) and when we are done using them, we can stack them up in a corner or closet (in their reclining position). My kids also like to use them to lean back and fall. Cheap thrill.
Games: I love playing games when I have friends or family over! A couple of our favorite card games are:
- French Bridge, which really isn’t bridge at all but more of an addictive multi-level game much like Spades (but without the sandbags, different scoring method, and varying trumps in each of the 10 levels)
- Hand and Foot (for crowds of 2 or more)
And those are my holiday entertaining favorites! What are some of yours?