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La Crema

Holiday Entertaining Made Stylish and Simple

Simple Holiday Entertaining La Crema

Food blogger and wine enthusiast Gabriel Cabrera from Artful Desperadoshares his insider tips for holiday entertaining.

Amid the flurry of activity that comes with the holidays, who doesn't look forward to the parties? Yet when it comes to hosting, the planning can sometimes get in the way of enjoying your own gathering. I've hosted numerous parties through the years, and I may have nailed the quick and easy method for throwing a memorable party.

First piece of advice: Keep it simple. This also applies to the type A personalities who want that chance to bake a dazzling assortment of festive treats. Instead, take a deep breath and look at the time-efficient ways to impress your party guests.

Second, remember that the host needs to share in the fun. So, if something doesn't feel right (for instance, spending a ton of time and money on decorations you'll only use once), skip it.


Now, let's talk about food and wine--the real substance of the party. A well thought-out selection of festive dishes is sure to impress. Still, keep the approach simple. My formula for success: Start with one-bowl dishes served buffet-style, and then add a few smaller bowls and trays of appetizers. With a few carefully selected bottles of wine on the side to pair, you have the ultimate party spread.

The Dishes and Appetizers

Food pairings that would go really well with almost any kind of wine.

The apps:

Spicy almonds, capers, berries, and spicy jam cheese board. The key here is to mix spice with salty and sweet.

Warm olives with lemon and garlic: choose a variety of olives you like, zest a lemon, mince one garlic clove, and warm in a pot for about 3-4 minutes. Easy and super tasty.

Caesar kale and roasted beet salad: make a regular caesar salad but sub the lettuce for kale, roast a few beets in the oven and combine.

Main dish:

Spinach and caramelized onion quiche: you can make this from scratch and combine both ingredients or you can buy a quiche and top it with caramelized onions and some parmesan cheese to make it extra decadent.

Roasted chicken with lemon butter: buy a regular roasted chicken from your local market, then melt some butter at home with some lemon zest and brush just before serving. Let your friends do all the carving.


A glass of wine with sweet, spicy notes.

Nutella and chocolate fondue: mix some Nutella and about 2 cups of dark chocolate chips and place it on a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water. Once melted and combined, dip some fruit or cookies and set them out. Even better, it's always fun to get your guests in on the fondue dipping.

Since many dishes can be made ahead, this will save you time and stress.


Selecting the Wine
Your friends likely have a variety of vino preferences, so consider buying two or three varieties that match your friends' wine "personalities." By default you should definitely have some Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir, which are crowd pleasers.

Arranging the Table Decor
I like to use neutral-colored linens and arranged seasonal fruit like pomegranates, and pumpkins and gourds. Blend flowers with eucalyptus branches for a crisp-scented holiday ambiance.

Oh, and here's another tip to make you look like the ultimate entertainer: Stick a post-it note on each bottle of wine with three words that describe the flavor profile of that wine. This way, your guests can pair their wine with the dishes they choose from your assortment.

Now, you see, enjoying your own holiday party is easy with a little planning and keeping it simple.

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