As the old saying goes, in the South there are no strangers, just friends we haven’t met yet … especially during the holiday season.
To smooth the path to that Southern hospitality, check out these eight pro tips from specialty food retailer Southern Season:
- Need a quick hostess gift? Stick with a household staple like wine or a candle. Buy a cute Christmas wine bag or cork to pair with the wine, and opt for a candle in a festive scent to bring the Christmas cheer.
- Make several different kinds of your favorite drop cookies. Place them close together on a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze them. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to freezer-safe bags marked with the cooking temperature and instructions. Use them throughout the holiday season as needed; they’ll only take a few minutes longer to cook right out of the freezer. Your home will be filled with the smell of fresh baked cookies all season long!
- Don’t want to invest in a full holiday dinnerware set? Choose select festive pieces like salad plates, mugs and platters that blend with your everyday dinnerware.
- Hosting overnight guests? Strata is a great option for breakfast or lunch and can be a complete meal if it includes vegetables and protein. Assemble it the night before for the best results, and a stress-free morning. Biscotti and granola also keep for a long time and can be made ahead. Add fresh fruit and yogurt, and you’ll be good to go.
- If you’re hosting a casual get together, don’t be afraid to use paper. Paper companies are making plates and napkins with an array of patterns that are beautiful and festive. And clean up’s a cinch!
- Pairing wine with your holiday meal can pose an issue; it needs to stand up to the rich, earthy, salty and at times sweet and savory fare. One easy answer? Invite rosé to the party. For example, the Vigneti Massa Rosato 'Terra: Sic Est’ has both power and structure while offering bright acidity that works well with heavier meals.
- Plan ahead. Purchase table decorations, candles and pre-made snacks, iron the tablecloth and napkins, and polish the silver. Then make a list of semi-perishable items that can be purchased ahead, and perishable items to buy a couple of days ahead. This will ease the pain of last-minute shopping trips!
- Make sitting down to dinner fun for the whole table by placing Christmas crackers at every place setting. An old English tradition, party crackers usually contain a hat, a joke and a small gift for each guest to enjoy.