Entertaining is something I absolutely love. Though we live in a very modest old farm house, our home is always filled with people. At times, it seems our home is busting at the seams with the volume of people we host. I love it though, and I’m always excited about holiday entertaining!
Since I love holiday entertaining (and entertaining in general) so much, I wanted to jot down a few elements that make a get together a success.
Of course, when you’re in the company of those you love most, no matter what you do, as long as you’re together, you’ll likely have a great time. This said, here are some things I think contribute to a great party!
Decor: The little touches make a big difference!
Set the mood and get everyone feeling festive with warm lighting. Some people (like myself) are sensitive to synthetic fragrances, so I don’t light scented candles. I used to love vanilla, gingerbread, candy cane, cranberry scented candles, up until a few years ago when they started giving me migraines.
One tip I have to achieve a similar effect, is to light unscented candles or if the smoke bothers people, there are the battery operated “candles”. For the welcoming fragrance, I have lots of clementines and citrus fruit displayed (and to be consumed), as well as hot apple cider boiling on the stove top for people to enjoy. The smell of apple cider with cinnamon is intoxicating!
You can also boil a pot of water with orange peels, cinnamon, and cloves in it. That is a very festive fragrance!
I love Christmas lights, a beautifully decorated tree, and other decorations too. Little embellishments on the table where you are serving food also add a lovely touch!
We host a lot of people, so it’s not a sit-down dinner. I don’t bother with place settings, since it’s family style/buffet style. People just fill their plates, and socialize.
Music sets the mood
I like to have Christmas music playing in the background to help set the mood. We have a piano in our home, and friends sometimes bring their guitars and end up playing! Soon enough, everyone starts singing and joining in the festivities!
Just a few favourite Christmas tunes to play at our holiday get-togethers:
- Michael Bublé – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- Michael Bublé – Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
- Wham! – Last Christmas
- Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
- Andrea Bocelli – Ave Maria
- Bing Crosby – White Christmas
- Céline Dion – The Magic of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)
Food: It feeds the soul!
If you know me, I absolutely love to cook, bake, and feed people! I suppose it’s part of my culture. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents have always placed importance on celebrating love, life, friends, and family by sharing a meal together. We always prepare more food than necessary, because you never know who may walk through the door! Unexpected guests are always welcome!
Some of our favourite recipes for the holidays
Just a few items I like to prepare for our get togethers over the holidays. Click on photos for recipes.
- 1/2 c melted butter (you can used 1/2 c vegetable oil instead if you wish)
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla (I use my homemade vanilla, but vanilla extract works well too)
- 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 c all purpose flour
- Grease 8 inch square baking dish (I doubled the recipe for the Christmas tree brownies and used a 9 x 13 in pan and for the reindeer brownies, I used cupcake tin). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a mixing bowl, add melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and mix together. Add cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder and mix well. Add chocolate chips and combine well. You can use a mixer or you can mix by hand.
- Spread batter evenly in baking pan (or scoop into cupcake liners)
- Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 min. ** If using 9 x 13 pan, bake for 20-30 min. Make sure you do not overcook the brownies. They’re supposed to be ooey-gooey, moist and melty!
Festive Spirits and Cocktails
Though my husband does not drink, I do enjoy the occasional cocktail or spirit. My beverages of preference are a good Amaretto Sour or an Old Fashioned. My cousin was the one who introduced me to the Old Fashioned. Who doesn’t think of the show Mad Men when they have an Old Fashioned?
In the past, my youngest brother has been my “bartender”. He makes the best drinks. He’s very creative and knows his liqueurs. Okay, it also helps that when he was going through university, he worked as a bartender to help put himself through school.
My friend and her husband usually help make drinks at parties. I don’t usually play bartender, because I tend to be a bit too liberal with quantities. I’d like to say it’s because I don’t know proportions, but in all honesty, I really just like others making drinks for me!
This said, to be a great hostess, offering a variety of beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) is always good.
TELUS has Perfect Drink 2.0 and it is perfect for holiday entertaining (or anytime you want to host a dinner party or get-together). The smart scale connects to your phone or tablet and the app guides you through creating each drink! 🍷🍹🍸
I like that you tell Perfect Drink what you have on hand in your liquor cabinet, choose a recipe (Martinis, vintage, seasonal, or tropical– Explore 400+ recipes), just pour, shake or stir! There’s no measuring. Simply pour an ingredient until you hear the “ding”.
I bet you thought that TELUS was strictly mobile device and network provider, right? You’ll be surprised to discover that they are so much more! TELUS even has everything to make magical connections over the holidays!
This holiday get together, I’m going to make some festive drinks. I was looking at the recipes in the Perfect Drink App on my phone and thought Chrysanthemum sounded intriguing!
- 60 ml dry Vermouth
- 30 ml Benedictine
- 3 dashes Absinthe
- 1 orange peel
- Cocktail Shaker
- Cocktail Glass
Keep the Little Ones Entertained
Holiday entertaining is not only geared towards the adults! We always include children in our get togethers. True, sometimes it is great to have adult time, but since most of our friends and family have children, and since we are all very family-oriented, kids are always included in our holiday get togethers.
We know kids need to have fun, so having the kids play in Little One’s play room seems to keep them occupied. I don’t always have organized activities and sometimes let them just have fun on their own. We do have crafts like making Christmas ornaments or colouring.
I find that one or two activities is good, but the kids like to play on their own and do their own thing too.
The kids will sometimes ask to watch a movie, so putting on a family-friendly Christmas movie or finding Christmas shows on Netflix also works. I’m fine with that if the kids need some down time.
One thing we are excited about this year is WowWee MIP AutoBalancing Robot, also available at TELUS.
I think the kids will all have a blast learning how to use MiP!
One of our friends teaches at the local high school and heads the robotics team. His two boys will be excited to discover what this robot can do! It’s more than just a toy. With unique dual wheel balancing, MiP navigates its surroundings, responds to hand gestures, and even follows objects around.
I can’t wait to have our Christmas get together with our friends and family! Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful at all. Being together, sharing a meal, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, and just enjoying each other’s company is what makes this time of the year special to our family.
Can you see why I get so excited about holiday entertaining? Family, friends, food, and fun!
What are some of your holiday entertaining tips?
Disclosure – This post was written in affiliation with TELUS as part of their #TeamTELUS Advocate Program. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.