Archive | December 2013

Sanity-Saving Tips for Ringing in the New Year at Home

Happy 2014!According to a recent survey, for the second year in a row, when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, most of us will be ringing in the New Year at home vs. going out. So for those of us whom are part of this trend of entertaining at home I wanted to share some less stress, prep ‘n money saving tips to revel in the New Year.

It’s All About the D WORDS:

DELEGATE ‘N DITCH:  Sani and Mani savers:

Invite help and use easy, prepared foods—cheese plates, veggies ‘n dips, desserts, etc.

Use Disposables when it comes to plates and silverware. For serving food, use things like breads, melons and squashes as bowls and toss when you’re done.

DEPLOY DISTRACTIONS: Keep the focus off the dust ‘n on the peeps in the gathering

  •  Prominently display photos of loved ones ‘n friends coming.
  •  Put some get well cards on mantel (you know, because you’ve been so sick you just didn’t have time to clean.)
  • Create conversation starters: Party napkins like these stimulate conversations and distract from the lack of gourmet goodies.

Conversation starter Napkin 6

DOWNSIZE DRINKS ‘N DIN: Remember you are not Martha:  Simplify, simplify, simplify!

  • NO OPEN BAR – Single serving drinks placed in garden pots filled with ice. (let them melt when party’s over and water plants-tres eco-friendly!
  • Create a special new year’s drink in a large punch bowl.
  • Make it a Spud-tacular din n desert! EZ ‘n Inexpensive!
  • Bake up large baked and sweet potatoes (wrap in tin foil to serve) Put out a variety of toppings for each like:
  • Baked potatoes (main course) – Sour cream, Caviar, Guacamole, Cheese: feta, goat, shredded cheddar or mozz. 
  • Sweet potatoes (dessert) – Ricotta cheese, Honey, Apricot preserves, Marshmallows and chocolate chips


For more ideas, check out my Pinterest Board – Holiday Entertaining.

Crisis-Free Christmas Breakfast

Countdown to Christmas…1 Day to Go.

Christmas morning may be all about the presents, but you’ve gotta eat too, right? Instead of playing short-order chef, try these easy and fun Christmas morning breakfast ideas.

Cereal Bar

Buy all the favorite family cereals as well as fresh, precut fruit; dried fruits; nuts and chocolate chips. In addition to regular milk, provide flavored options like chocolate and strawberry as well. Then, just let your family have at it! They’ll enjoy the special treat and you’ll keep yourself out of the kitchen. Maybe a little more sugar than you should have for breakfast, but hey, it’s Christmas morning.


Cook in Advance

Make pancakes or waffles the night before so all you have to do is pop them in the toaster. Pre-cook bacon and sausage and just give ‘em quick zap in the microwave. A quick batch of scrambled eggs and you have a breakfast in a jiffy.

Make it Continental

Get your inspiration from a hotel and provide a continental breakfast with breads, pastries, and fruit. Use festive holiday paper plates so you can clean up quick and get back to the presents.


Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

Countdown to Christmas…2 Days to Go.

Santa will be here soon and so will all your family and friends. It’s a joyous time but it always seems like your house ends up taking a beating. Try some defensive maneuvers to prepare your home for the busy days ahead.

Use Mats: Place absorbent doormats inside and outside al entranceways to limit the tracking of dirt and moisture through your house. Don’t forget about my dirty martini mat from Carpet One if you don’t already have mats. 25% of the proceeds goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.


No Shoes Allowed: Keep a basket or decorative bin at key entranceways for all guest to toss their shoes into.

Wax Away: Use furniture polish or wax to keep spill from running all over your wood furniture. They’ll just bubble up so you can easily suck them up with a paper towel.

Dim Lights: Dim lights, draw curtains, and/or close blinds to keep guests from noticing the dust and dirt!

Easy Christmas Baking (Without the Baking Part)

Countdown to Christmas…3 Days to Go.

Well, the day has snuck up on you again this year. It happens to the best of us. The gifts aren’t wrapped yet and all the elves left you hanging on all that Christmas baking. Save some time and energy (yours and the electric kind too) with these easy no-bake goodies.

Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese No Bake Cookies.

Jo and Sue have nailed the sweet craving must haves with these no-bake wonders. Oreo cookie crumbs, peanut butter, cream cheese…you might not get them made without eating half the ingredients so make sure to buy extras.

Find the recipe here.


York Mint No Bake Cookies

Ready in 5 minutes and with only 4 simple ingredients, there’s no excuse not to try these. And they’re so cute and festive for a holiday party or family gathering.

Find the recipe here.


Cookie Dough Truffles

Cookie dough (sans eggs) rolled in a ball and covered with chocolate. It’s a little classier than eating out of the bowl and tastes even better. Get step by step instructions here


Keep Your Sanity…And Your Kids!


Countdown to Christmas…4 Days to Go.

Bad KidKids driving you ca-razy? Christmas break from school can leave you with very little of that much-loved thing we call sanity. Corral those wild ones and keep them entertained so you can save what’s left of your sanity.

Craft a Distraction. Set up a table in the basement or playroom for some clever crafts. Have kids create homemade thank you notes that they can use after they open all the gifts. Give older kids glass or plastic ornaments and paint pens and let them create their own ornaments. (This is also a great idea if you’re still getting around to decorating the tree.

Set up an Exchange. Coordinate with your neighbors to watch their kids in exchange for you watching theirs. At least this way, you’ll get a little bit of piece. Just make sure you have a plan for entertaining a large group of kids.

Movie Minus the Madness. Make a movie night a little more special by turning out the lights, popping some popcorn and setting up extra comfy piles of pillows. Hopefully by the end of the movie, the kids will be asleep.

Surprisingly Fun Chores. Kids (especially little ones) can really get into chores if you make it fun. Have a race to see who can make their bed faster or give each kid a Swiffer to use to “fly” around the kitchen collecting dirt. Turn on some music to make chores that bore fun for the whole family.

5 Martini Recipes You’ve Got to Try

Countdown to Christmas…5 Days to Go!

What would the holidays be without some time to kick back, relax and reflect on the past year? And what better way to do all these things than with a lovely martini in your hand. I, of course, will be having my signature dirty martini but there are so many members of the martini family that I thought I’d share a few alternate options.

  1. The tried and true dirty martini. Get the recipe at Delish.comdirty-martini-xl
  2.  Need a little pick-me-up with your relaxation? Hey, why not. You might enjoy an espresso martini. Try this one from the Food Network. Frame 513
  3. Salute the candy cane with a Peppermint Martini. Try this recipe from peppermint martini
  4. Go fruity with this Pommangotini recipe from the lovely Rachel Ray’s blog. It’s just so fun to say! Pommango
  5. Forget those gingerbread men. Get that ginger spice sweetness from this holiday martini. 2024801_The12004

What’s your favorite martini? Got a recipe? Do share!

5 Sanity-Savers for Gift Wrapping

Countdown to Christmas…6 Days to Go!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGift wrapping (especially a lot at one time) can stress any accidental housewife and, even worse, ruin your manicure. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for getting the packages wrapped and bows tied. The Recipients of your gifts will be in awe of their beauty.

  1. BOX IT UP. Squares and rectangles are much easier to wrap that balls, cylinders, and thingamajigs. Box up your gifts as you purchase them. When it comes time to wrap, you’ll save lots of time.
  2. ONE STEP AT A TIME. Wrap your gifts in phases. First, get all your gifts wrapped with paper. Then, go back to add bows. Last, add any special embellishments and gift tags.  Use Post-it notes with the recipients’ names to keep track of the packages through the process so you don’t have an embarrassing mix-up. “Oh Grandma, I know you don’t need a sippy cup.”
  3. THE NEW GIFT BAG. Everyone knows the gift bag is the easy way out of wrapping presents. And hey, sometimes, you’ve just gotta go with a gift bag. If you’re really short on time, you can find decorative gift boxes that already have holiday designs printed on them. Skip straight to the bows and tags!
  4. WRAPPING PAPER SWAP OUT. If you run out of paper and don’t feel like heading to the store, you can use items from the recycling bin to wrap. Funny pages, brown paper bags and even old posters can make great wrapping paper substitutes.
  5. A LITTLE DIRT WOULDN’T HURT. A dirty martini, that is! Make yourself one before you wrap and serve ‘em up as you give out your gifts. Your beautiful packages will look that much better. (PS this technique only works on recipients over 21.)