Tips for easy, fun holiday entertaining
From ARA Content
Entertaining friends and family during the holiday season is as customary as drinking eggnog and opening presents. These gatherings usually involve investigating new – and delicious – recipes, decorating the house to the hilt, building the perfect collection of holiday tunes to play and finding fun activities to keep everyone engaged throughout.
The key to successful entertaining over the holidays is preparation. Here are some tips from Mike Wisner, executive chef for kitchen appliance maker LG Electronics USA, to help you throw a great holiday party:
- The menu is one of the most important aspects of a holiday gathering. To keep everyone happy with each course, make sure you have something for simple and extravagant tastes. Cheese, sausages or cured meats and crackers provide you with plenty of options. Also be aware of your guests’ food allergies.
- Map out your meals a few days in advance and don’t feel like you have to cook everything. Cold food items make great hors d’oeuvres. Decide when you want to eat, so you know when to start cooking (or unwrapping) each dish. A double-oven range can make your preparations easier. With two separate ovens that can operate independently at different temperatures, LG’s range helps you prepare appetizers and an entree or the entree and dessert at the same time.
- Take the opportunity to do as much as you can to prepare in the days leading up to your party. Many food items can be prepared days in advance and only need reheating before serving. Additionally, things like rolling napkins, decorating, and setting your gathering area can be done well ahead of time.
- If you’re hosting a gathering with children in attendance, be sure to have some fun movies on hand to keep them entertained. If you want to wow your guests, consider a CINEMA 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray player package from LG. With four sets of polarized glasses and a wide viewing angle, it’s perfect for large groups to enjoy the latest 3D releases like “The Lion King,” “Captain America” and the “Toy Story” trilogy. Consider throwing favorite holiday shows into the mix to keep the seasonal theme going strong.
- Music is always an important element to hosting a successful holiday party. Be sure to make a few playlists beforehand and remember, keep the volume at a level where the music can be heard, but you can still have a conversation. It also helps to have the right speaker system.
- Clean up can be the worst part of hosting, especially since most people leave it to the end of the night. It’s never a bad idea to clean as you go and use disposable serving items where appropriate. Finally, you’ll find that many guests would be happy to lend a hand.
“Pulling off a fun and entertaining holiday party takes work and good planning,” Wisner says. “But with the right preparation, friends and family will request an encore party next holiday season.” To help out, here’s one of the chef’s easy recipes for a great holiday appetizer:
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto or serrano ham
Extra virgin olive oil
After removing one to two inches off the ends of the asparagus, cut into two to three inch lengths. Cook in a large pot of boiling water until they are “al dente.” They should still have a slight crunch when bitten. When done, move them to a bowl of ice water to stop further cooking. Once chilled, remove and pat dry. Wrap each piece in a slice of ham (you can cut large slices in half). Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. These can be prepared up to two days in advance.
Remove the wrapped asparagus from the refrigerator an hour before serving to allow them to warm up. Preheat broiler on high for five minutes. Place the wrapped asparagus on a baking sheet and then in broiler until the tops are crisped, about two to three minutes. Flip over and repeat for the other side. Remove from the oven and arrange on a serving tray. Drizzle with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.