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Set the Scene for Holiday Entertaining

Nov 24, 2014 03:56AM, Published by Family Features, Categories: Family Features

(Family Features) The holiday season brings a flurry of activity, especially when it comes to entertaining family and friends. While the formal sit-down dinner is still alive and well this time of year, casual holiday gatherings are growing in popularity.

Whether you’re taking on a night of wine and appetizers, a potluck party with everyone’s favorite dishes, or a laidback brunch, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the season without spending hours getting the house ready for the holidays. To help with your next gathering, here are some helpful tips from Macy’s for easy decorating and entertaining this season.

Decorating for the holidays can often sound like a daunting task, but by adding festive touches to items that you may already have, you can set the scene with beautiful and seasonal home accents.

  • Look for Tree Alternatives: While live trees are lovely this time of year, there are other ways to decorate that are simple to set up and require less space, but are just as festive. For example, take a large clear vessel, such as a hurricane glass, and anchor the bottom with pine cones and moss. Add branches to the vessel and then hang your favorite ornaments for an eye-catching entry table decoration.
  • Embrace New Uses for Old Things: If planning a brunch, set your counter with a few cake domes in different sizes to house pastries and breads – and then fill one with garland, colorful ornaments and swirled patterned ribbon.
  • Add a Touch of Nature: Your kitchen island can be instantly transformed with natural elements that embody the season. Place holiday greenery, such as pine needles, flat on a rectangular platter and then cover with a layer of loose cranberries and a few pinecones.

No matter what casual gathering you have in store for the holiday season, here are a few pointers to help you pull it off like a pro.

  • For the Wine Party: Be sure to stock up on all the essentials needed, including one or two wine openers, great glassware for red and white, a large bowl to hold chilled wine, and platters in different sizes so that guests can help themselves. Keep it stress-free by choosing appetizers that can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.
  • For the Potluck: This kind of party is a great way for everyone to contribute their favorite holiday recipe and doesn’t leave all the cooking to the host or hostess. It’s important to get a sense of everyone’s contributions before the party, to avoid duplication and ensure a well-rounded spread. As the host, it’s a good idea to have plenty of serving utensils, plates and napkins on hand.
  • For the Brunch: Add an interactive activity by setting up a smoothie bar for your holiday brunch. Blend a large batch of a crowd favorite and pour in tall highball glasses. Have your guests customize their smoothie by adding chopped fruits, sprinkles and festive straws – great fun for adults and kids alike.

For all your holiday essentials, including kitchen gear, entertaining must-haves and home decor, visit

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