Tips to enliven holiday parties

Here are some suggestions and great ideas that will enliven this year’s holiday events >

• Make a simple centerpiece by filling a basket or copper bowl with small evergreen branches, pine cones, whole oranges and grapefruit, unshelled nuts and cinnamon sticks. Read more about decorating your Christmas table at our Art de la Table category!

• Pull out the slow cooker to help you with the holidays. When serving hot cider at a holiday buffet, pour heated cider into a slow cooker set on low and let the guests help themselves. Read more about cider under our  Festive Wines category!

• Freeze small dollops of whipped cream by scooping them onto a foil-lined cookie sheet and freezing until firm. Keep them handy in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Place a dollop on drinks just before serving.

• Look for whimsical little appetizer forks and spoons for serving pieces. Or, use serving pieces from the treasured family silver service. Read more at our Art de la Table category!

• For wine-loving guests, here are multipurpose party favors. Write your menu on bottles of wine with a china or dry-erase marker. Set a bottle at each place setting. Not only will your guests be tempted by the menu, they’ll get to take the wine home. Read more at our Festive Wines category!

• For casual get-togethers, dish up portions of chicken and dumplings or crab au gratin into oversize coffee mugs or shallow soup bowls.

• Top a torte or cake with sugared fresh cranberries. Brush cranberries with light corn syrup. Sprinkle with sugar; let stand uncovered until you’re ready to add the garnish to the top of the dessert. Read more at our Festive Recipes category!