Peanuts, peanut butter and entertaining

Believe it or not, the holiday season is nearly upon us, with the celebrations starting in October and going strong through to the New Year. And, while some may have a knack for it, holiday entertaining can be anything but effortless. Being the hostess with the mostess (or host with the most) can require a hand at mulled wine-making, turkey-roasting and centerpiece-arranging. Follow these quick tips to help pull off the next holiday dinner that guests will rave about:

Set the stage – or the table! While the food will most certainly steal the spotlight, guests still eat with their eyes. For simplicity and budget purposes, start with a colour theme and add accessories in the same hue. When it comes to serving dishes, don’t be afraid to mix and match pieces. With large family get-togethers this might not be just for stylistic reasons, but necessity! Add some visual interest with a festive centrepiece of old-fashioned ornaments, pinecones, candles or cedar wreaths.

Make-ahead menu: From hors d’oeuvres to desserts, capitalize on make-ahead items that will help the big day go smoothly. Cranberry sauce can be made and refrigerated up to four days in advance, while vegetables can be pre-roasted and warmed minutes before “bon appetit.”

BYOB (be your own bartender): Encourage guests to be the bartender, giving the host a break to enjoy the evening. Keep the drink selection simple, and offer pre-cut garnishes like citrus and olives, plus festive stir sticks. For elegant presentation and a bit of whimsy, include family favourite recipes written on chalkboards.

A sweet finish: Cap off a delicious meal with a variety of desserts and goodies. From gluten-free to sandwich cookies, here are nine great peanut buttery cookies to add to a sweet tray, or try our Peanut Butter Buttons for a taste of nostalgia. Looking for an interactive dessert experience? Have dessert faux fondue-style by dipping cut-up fruits and biscuits into this Peanut Caramel Sauce.