Holiday Entertaining Made Easy

Holiday Entertaining Made Easy

(ARA)- Holiday entertaining can feel overwhelming to even the most seasoned host. Between shopping, cooking, cleaning and decorating, it can feel like there's no time left to enjoy the festivities. But with a little time management and some creativity, having friends and family over to celebrate can be fun again.
A holiday hostess is always looking for ways to sweeten her holiday entertaining. "Make the season a success by reinventing holiday traditions," says entertaining expert Cathy Riva, founder of Manhattan-based Riva Events and host of Discovery Home Channel's Party Girl. "If you normally provide all the food for friends and family, try having everyone bring a favorite dish this year. It will cut down on preparation time while allowing guests to show off their cooking and baking skills."
Riva offers more advice on how to put the fun back into hosting during the holidays.
To make everyone at a holiday party feel special without blowing the budget on personalized goodies, add creative touches on items such as seating cards. Using a holiday gift card or tag can be a festive, easy and inexpensive way to designate seating.
When it comes to meal planning, entertaining for family and friends can often mean catering to a variety of individual tastes and preferences. Plan to provide a meatless entree alternative for vegetarian guests -- a hearty pasta dish is a good standby. Always provide a few interesting, non-alcoholic drink options beyond soda and lastly, create a more healthful take on some of those favorite holiday recipes by substituting Splenda No Calorie Sweetener for sugar in your cooking and baking.
Now that entertaining and meal planning are more manageable, Riva recommends using SplendidLife.com as a one-stop-shop for gifts, kitchen supplies and hosting materials. "SplendidLife.com is a great help!" says Riva. "In one place I can find all my entertaining items -- from bakeware to beverage accessories to traditional and modern serving pieces, as well as a wide array of unique items for holiday gift-giving made easy."
Too often the hosts forget about the ambiance of a party. Riva suggests simple items around the house that can help make the atmosphere of any gathering warm and merry:
* Heat up some apple cider with some cinnamon, clove and oranges for a delicious drink and get your guests in the holiday spirit right when they walk in the door. Nothing says holidays like a home that smells warm and inviting.
* Dim the lights to provide a friendly, cozy atmosphere. If dimmers are unavailable, try other options such as changing the direction of the light source or using ambient lighting such as candles.
* Keep a few of your favorite recipes and Splenda sweetener products on hand when you need to whip up a quick and delicious dip, appetizer or dessert for unexpected guests.