I know for me, I always look forward to the impending holidays with equal parts of joy and dread.  Excitement about spending time with friends and family, the pleasure of seeing that special smile on someone’s face when you’ve chosen just the right gift, the unique energy and bustle in the air that only comes with the holiday season.

Here are some quick and easy tips to help make your holiday entertaining stress free, whatever your budget or experience as a host or hostess.  

 * The holidays are a busy time. Send invitations out 4 to 6 weeks in advance.
* Select a combination of make-ahead appetizers that can be frozen or made one to two days in advance.

* Opt for one-meal dishes, such as stews, pot roasts, pastas. This eliminates the need for multiple side dishes.  One-meal dishes have an added plus because most can be made a day in advance and taste better!

* Pair your one-meal dish with a stand out salad, which acts as your vegetable.  

* Bake holiday goodies that will last the season, such as peanut brittle, fudge, toffee, ginger snaps and biscotti. Most cookies or cookie dough can be stored in the freezer up to 6-months.

* Out of town guests: Set up a ‘breakfast bar’ before you go to bed.  Include mugs, plates, bowls, napkins, sugar, tea bags, hot chocolate packets, jellies, cereals and packets of instant cereal.  All you have to do in the morning is turn on the coffee pot and put out a selection of breads, such as muffins, bagels, English muffins, etc. and pitchers of milk and juice.  Let your guests serve themselves. 

* Create holiday centerpieces with versatility in mind.  Opt for centerpieces  that can remain on your dining room and kitchen tables throughout the holiday entertaining season and complement both formal and informal table settings. . 

* Use fruits, vegetables, nuts, pinecones, feathers or different sized glass cylinders filled with holiday ornaments.

* Preserve holiday greenery: soak overnight, re-cut stems, use a mixture of one-part glycerin, one-part water to keep greens pliable, avoid direct sunlight, place away from heat ducts and mist lightly with water.  Spray greens with an anti-transparent to seal in moisture. Select greens such as Western Cedar and Fir, which hold up better over time.  
Wishing you the magic of the season!  
Memorable Entertaining is  … a unique, one-stop resource that gives you everything you need to entertain with grace & style, plus an ‘entertaining hotline’ & fresh ideas added weekly!  Visit for more Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining including a downloadable grocery lists, Make Ahead Appetizers, Elegant Table ideas and more.

More great holiday gift-giving articles and ideas can be found in  our new Holiday Gift-giving Guide at