12.22.2015

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We are happy to present the 6TH post of our 2015 Holiday Entertaining Tips series. This week, Linda Sample shares her thoughts on potential issues (disasters!?) to your holiday parties.

Chapter 6 has been affectionately dubbed “Cautionary Tales” by Keith; so this could go in several different directions. I considered talking about some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ issues that happen and how we can prevent/and or handle them in such a way that guests are oblivious. I love to chat about the importance of thinking on your feet and letting nothing interfere with a wonderful guest experience.

However, we are talking about Holiday Parties now, and we are in New England, so there is a lot to consider. Rather than focus on the negative, I chose to look at logistical aspects that can make or break a good time. We’ll chat about safety, comfort/environment, and food. All are equally important to the success of a party and keeping your guests happy!

SAFETY

We are in New England and SUPPOSED to be enjoying snow and cold temperatures at this time of year. This may not be the case this year, but today is the official first day of winter, so there is still plenty of time for “real” winter to show its face. In fact, we got a taste of those chilly temps on Saturday!

When I walk into a home to do an assessment for a job, I pay attention to lots of details. How do people enter, where do they park, do they need to walk up several stairs, where should coats go?

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Weather is always the big unknown. In the event of snow/ice/freezing conditions, you want to pay particular attention to PARKING. You want it to be as easy as possible and may want someone to just get the parking started; once guests see a pattern, they will follow suit. You need to make sure that there is clear access to your home, which means shoveling/ clearing out. Ice is often worse than snow – stock up on rock salt or kitty litter (in a pinch). Once your guests get from their cars to your door, do you have a place for lots of wet boots?

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12.15.2015

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In our 5TH post of our 2015 Holiday Entertaining Tips series, Linda Sample shares her thoughts on the first line of defense for your holiday guests – the hors d’oeuvres!

Let’s talk about hors d’oeuvres (hd’s) – especially, balancing them with the entrée/meal. Also, let’s look at some of the factors that affect both passed and stationary.

If you are serving a main dish later in the evening, consider what you’re serving and do not replicate the flavors. You also want to make sure you are not redundant with protein; beef, fish, pork, chicken, lamb, or shellfish. This holds true whether you’re doing a seated meal or a forkable station.

WORK FOR A BALANCE OF…

COLORS – Bright vs brown or all pale.

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TEXTURES – Some with crunch, some soft, some in-between.

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12.08.2015

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Here is the fourth in the series of Holiday entertaining season tips from A Thyme to Cook Founder and President, Linda Sample

Now that you have decided to host a soiree and your home is all decorated, you need to figure out what KIND of food to serve, and a lot of these decisions are based on the type of party you want.

COCKTAIL PARTY

In the previous post, I mentioned how the time frame of your party dictates the appropriate kinds of foods. Make sure to balance some stationary items, (requiring a cocktail napkin ONLY) as well as some hot hors d’oeuvres. By balance, I mean combining different colors, textures, temperature, and a representation of meat, poultry, veggie, fish/seafood, and cheese. You will also want to think seasonal and utilize what ingredients are currently at their peak for both flavor and quality. This is why ATTC does not routinely give lists of suggested hors d’oeuvres items, as people tend to choose what they like – only to realize that what was chosen, was all some variation of cheese!

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It is nice to offer some take-away sweets as guests leave, too – depending on the length of the party, you may or may not need to provide coffee. If you do, you need to provide it for ½ the guests, as not everyone will trade their wine glass for the a coffee mug.

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12.01.2015

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We are often asked for our advice on entertaining during the holidays. Recently, A Thyme to Cook Founder and President, Linda Sample, took some time to discuss her thoughts. Here is the third in the series of Holiday entertaining season tips

Decorating for the holidays is probably my MOST favorite thing to do. So, I want to make sure I do not get carried away with this one and start rambling….

It is important to make your home feel warm and inviting (use candles, make the entryway festive and smell wonderful). However, DO NOT GO CRAZY CLEANING THE HOUSE!

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The only place to focus on is the bathroom. No one will notice the kitchen, as they assume you are as crazed as everyone else at this time of year; but they WILL visit the bathroom. Make sure it is clean, smells great; and I always recommend adding some unexpected holiday touches to this neglected, but also, frequently visited room – some greens, twinkle lights, perhaps an Elf on a Shelf? And if some of your family are of the fuzzy kind, make sure to clean their “bathrooms” too and tend to the litter box and scooping the lawn before guests arrive.

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11.24.2015

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We are often asked for our advice on entertaining during the holidays. Recently, A Thyme to Cook Founder and President, Linda Sample, took some time to discuss her thoughts. Here is the second in the series of Holiday entertaining season tips

You decided you are going to have a party and have narrowed down the guest list. You looked at your available space and all the logistics. Now you have some serious decisions to make! As with all these tips, I will keep reminding you to Keep It Simple! Plan on serving something tried and true that is also reflection of yourself. This is the season for comfort and is NOT the time to go playing with pork belly or that 45 step dish you saw on the cooking show last week.

Let’s talk guests and menu…

TIME FRAME

Although it may seem arbitrary – this is HUGE, as this will dictate the amount, style and quantity of your menu. A cocktail party from 5pm-8pm implies that you plan on serving enough food to equate a meal and do not expect guests to go on to dinner when they leave your home.

You might want to consider a few stationary items, a few hors d’oeuvres (maybe get someone to assist you so you don’t have to leave your guests – Keep It Simple) and perhaps, bring out something a little heartier around 6:30pm or so. You also may want to set out a few holiday cookies for a sweet send-off before guests head back out into the cold.

If you decide on an earlier 5pm-7pm soiree – this is what I would call a traditional, light, cocktail party. With a few nibbles and bites, this short gathering is more social and promotes mingling; but just not for too long!

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