When it comes to holiday entertaining, it's helpful to know how to calculate how much food and alcohol to buy in advance before throwing a party. Luckily, I had the chance to ask the perfect party planner and Editor-in-chief of Sandra Lee magazine, Sandra Lee, when she stopped by to chat on Mondays with Marlo.
Sandra admits that she often buys too much, which is not always a negative thing, as it allows for ample leftovers. For parties of 6-10 people, she'll estimate about 1/2 pound of meat per person, although she warns people that less expensive cuts of meat will shrink down quite a bit if slow-cooked.
For starches, she estimates about a potato and a half per person, although she says err on the side of caution, especially if kids are in the mix, and prepare for two potatoes per person in that case.
For more of Sandra Lee's holiday entertaining tips, view the slideshow below:
1. Sweet Swag
Candy canes do double décor duty when used to give chair backs a festive finishing touch. Leave them wrapped, but trim excess plastic from around the edges and attach canes to chairs with pre-tied holiday bows.
2. Merry Berries
Jazz up a faux green wreath to give your door a "berry Chistmasy" update! Find sprays or picks you like and adhere using a hot glue gun. Tie a multi-loop bow and attach to the front. Use more ribbon to create a hanger and glue securely to the back.
3. Festive Candies
Dress up a simple cake using holiday themed candies, like marshmallow snowmen or Christmas trees. These sweet treats will stand out on top of a cake or around the edge for a unique dessert that will wow young guests as well as guests who are young at heart.
4. Fuss-Free Party Bites
If you’re in a time crunch, pick party foods that are delicious, impressive and fuss-free. Sandra recommends her <a href="http://sandralee.com/recipes/starters/fancy-figs-with-orange-honey-drizzle/1149" target="_blank">Fancy Figs with Orange-Honey Drizzle</a>, which can be prepared before guests arrive and served at room temperature.
5. Think Outside Of The Box
Break out of the chips and dip mold! When it comes to pairing up cocktails and food, think creatively. Pick flavorful foods that will please and surprise your guests. Sandra recommends her <a href="http://www.sandralee.com/recipes/apricot-shortcakes/309" target="_blank">Apricot Shortcakes</a> or <a href="http://sandralee.com/recipes/christmas/chianti-poached-pears/1164" target="_blank">Chianti Poached Pears</a>, which are both beautiful and tasty.
6. Cozy Closeup
Make family memories the center of your celebrations. Situate your family photo within a woodsy setting this season using supplies you can easily find at a craft store, like little winter cardinals, faux sprigs of frosted greens and shimmering sparkle dust.
7. Be Prepared
During this jolly time of year, guests who drop in unexpectedly are easily welcomed when your fridge is filled with great ingredients. Keep fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on-hand to whip up a festive, fresh Caprese salad. Also keep fridge stocked with pre-cut celery and carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, a vegetable dip and cheeses for another quick appetizer option.
8. Self-Serve Bar
Save big bucks by setting up a themed self-serve bar. Stock your bar with the basic essentials for a great foundation and print up a few recipes to help guide your revelers. For a cool, swanky vibe, serve classy cocktails with a creative touch, like Sandra's <a href="http://www.semihomemade.com/cocktail/november/golden-old-fashioned/289" target="_blank">Golden Old Fashioned</a>, and groove to Etta James and Michael Buble. For a festive party with a Latin American flair, crank up Celia Cruz or Shakira and serve-up Sandra's <a href="http://www.semihomemade.com/cocktail/mango-madras/263" target="_blank">Mango Madras</a>.
9. Decorations In Moderation
In love with mistletoe, the perfect snowflake or delicate silver bells? Choose a festive icon and use it sparingly in areas where it will make a major impact. Use it as a garnish or as a special touch on napkins, wine holders or other small decorations.
Remember, a relaxed host/hostess is a fun host/hostess. Make your cocktails in large portions before the party, and chill them for a few hours so they’ll be ready to serve at a whim. That way, you can spend more time with your guests.
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