Here are a few tips and tricks for enjoying your holiday party and keeping the costs (and stress) in check!
1. Involve your guests in the cooking! Send each guest a recipe and have him or her bring the equipment and ingredients for it. Then cook together! The more involved your guests are, the more memories are created. If that seems too daunting, just ask each guest to bring a finished dish. Or pick a favorite cookbook and have each guest bring a recipe created from that book. Any of these ideas will take some of the pressure off you.
2. Co-host with friends or neighbors. Not only does it help control expenses, it’s a great way to share the holiday spirit. Consider a progressive party where you start at one house for the appetizer, then move to another house for a first course, another for the main course and another for dessert. Or keep it even simpler by just serving desserts at each home.
3. Celebrate with a festive cocktail and appetizer party instead of a sit-down dinner. Simply place appetizer trays on your buffet instead of paying for caterers or servers to cook and pass the appetizers.
4. Hire your kids to do the serving and clean up. Or hire a student at a local culinary school to cater the party. They are often looking for experience and will be less expensive.
5. Guests love to help! Post a job chart on the refrigerator so each guest knows what role they will play at the party. Jobs might include pouring wine, clearing the table, lighting candles or choosing the play list for your iPod.
6. You can serve a few high-end dishes like crab but offset the cost with inexpensive and delicious dips. Supplement with store-bought items. For example, store-bought pesto goes nicely on lamb skewers, grilled shrimp, pasta or in mashed potatoes. Buy cheeses, crackers, olives and almonds and arrange simply, for a nice appetizer when people arrive.
7. Buy ingredients at a farmer’s market or local international market where you can often find good deals. Items like coconut milk are much cheaper at the Chinese market vs. a big supermarket. Plus you get a little taste of another world!
8. When buying spices, nuts, dried fruits or dried mushrooms, buy from the bulk-foods section. You can buy exactly what you need, and you’ll get fresher ingredients because they have a shorter shelf life.
9. Purchase wonderful meats and fish at your local warehouse store at very reasonable prices. Or buy a whole roast like a filet and cut it into steaks (it’s cheaper that way).
10. Serve beer, wine, sodas and just one festive holiday specialty drink vs. spending big on a full bar.
11. Caterers often offer discounts for daytime events, so consider a seasonal luncheon or brunch instead of an evening event.
12. Invite guests to bring their favorite holiday cookie to serve on your buffet instead of purchasing desserts. Or better yet, just host a cookie exchange!
13. Bake a homemade dessert a day in advance to compliment savory bites brought in by a caterer on the day of the event.
14. Utilize nature when creating a centerpiece. Rosemary or eucalyptus leaves are nice and fragrant with fall fruits or vegetables. Try squash or baby pumpkins for fall, and pomegranate, pears, apples or persimmons for holiday. After the party is over, you can eat them! If you prefer flowers, get them at your flower market; or just use bud vases with one stem in each vase and arrange down the center of the table.
15. For inexpensive entertainment, ask your kids or a talented neighbor to play an instrument like guitar. Sing carols around the piano. Or put a fun question under each person’s plate at the table and see what the answers are!
Appetizers in the top oven, a holiday roast in the lower oven… Few appliances are as versatile as the Kenmore double oven range. You can cook two different dishes at two different temperatures simultaneously!