Plan to be host with the most

Go entertain


The Girl Scout motto "Be prepared" is also an inspired piece of advice for those who entertain at the holidays. Things that take no time now will help you manage your stress for the rush a few weeks from now, so we've assembled some tips to help you entertain with style.

PHOTOS --Gather up some family photos and group them on a tabletop. Buy silver frames and slip a few of your favorite pictures into them for a unifying and luxe look.

PLANTS --Buy a flowering plant, place it in a pretty or an unusual container (a wooden bowl, fancy tureen or a basket with a liner), and center it on your cleared-off coffee table.

CANDLES --Go to a home-goods store and buy a dozen candles. A few tapers in polished candleholders added to a table with a modest piece of brie, a bottle of wine and some good crackers lend a note of formality.

WINE --Buy one case each of moderately priced white wine, red and nice sparkling water. This way, you'll be ready for neighbors and friends dropping by unexpectedly, or for the unforeseen impulse to offer a libation. A few pounds of gourmet coffee on a freezer shelf, squirreled away now, will also make you look like a host ready for anything.

Leanne Ely, who has a Web site,, offers lots of tips in her new book, Saving Dinner for the Holidays (Ballantine, $14.95).

Ely advocates "realistic" holidays -- using homemade pie filling in store-bought crusts and asking guests to bring dishes to the family feasts.

Ely likes to do a charcuterie platter when guests stop by. It is assembled in no time. She keeps good-quality salami and small wheels of brie, Saga blue cheese and camembert in the refrigerator and marinated olives and mushrooms, artichoke hearts and good crackers in the pantry.

Anne Farrow writes for the Hartford Courant.

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