Christmas Countdown C -14

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Holiday Open Office

Twice, I have had jobs that were very intense during the holiday season.  The number of hours I needed to spend at work made it impossible for me to either attend or host any holiday parties  This was very painful for me since I love both Christmas and entertaining.  I finally realized the long hours spent at work did not mean I could not celebrate the holidays.   If I had to spend the holiday season at work, then I would hold the party at work.  Instead of hosting an open house, hold an open office! 

I designed a celebration that would not cause me any additional stress.  My goal was to enhance my holiday joy and the joy of my co-workers.  I began by decorating my office for the holidays, including a small tabletop tree complete with lights.  I set up a narrow four foot table and covered it with a paper tablecloth.  I bought more than one tablecloth in case so I had replacements when one was stained or torn.  I brought in my holiday platters, baskets and bowls for my serving dishes and added green and red paper napkins, cups and plates.

During the holidays, so much of the food brought in to share at work is very sweet and high calorie.  We tend not to eat well during the last few weeks of December.  I decided to offer more substantial food.  The buffet featured chips, salsa, dip, crackers, a variety of cheeses, cookies, and sparkling cider. As you see, I did include a few sweet items to round the selection out.

I bought most of the items for the small buffet, making only one or two things myself.  I bought enough food to last 3-4 days, holding back a few fresh items for each day so the food did not look picked over by the last day.  I was able to set everything up in 10-15 minutes and it took about the same amount of time to clean everything up before I went home. 

I turned on Christmas music, opened the door wide and invited anyone who wandered by to enjoy the buffet.  While the open office will never win first prize in a Holiday Party competition, it helps reduce stress and increase joy during a busy time of year at work.

Suggested Buffet Items:

Cheese Platter

• Brie

• Herbed Brie

• Cheddar

• Gouda

• Smoked Edam

• Cheese Ball

Crackers

• Wheat

• Rye

• Club

• Pepper

Assorted Nuts

Tortilla Chips

Dips

• Salsa

• Guacamole

• Dill Dip*

• Spinach Dip

• Shrimp Dip

• Crab Dip

Cake Platter

(I purchase specialty loaf cakes at an import store)

• Amaretto

• Rum

• Pumpkin/Cranberry Bread

• Banana Bread

Small Plate of Chocolate Seashells

Platter of Assorted Cookies

Sparkling Cider

Dill Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 2 teaspoons dill
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion

Mix. Chill. Serve in bread bowl with the pieces of bread taken out of the bowl.

Festive Holiday Drinks

Festive Holiday Drinks

Special occasions call for more that a few bottles of wine hastily chosen & a tub of ice filled with beer. Time to move up to the grown up side of the bar! I agree that cocktails can be time consuming to mix when you are hosting a party. You might consider hiring someone to tend bar for you. This frees you up to mingle with guests & gives you the satisfaction of knowing the drinks are well made. A paid bartender should also be able to tell you what to purchase & how much you need to stock your bar for the event.

If hiring a bartender is not in your budget or your event is intimate enough not to warrant the expense, then consider creating just one of these fabulous concoctions from Coastal Living. A punchbowl filled with a special beverage, with more pitchers of the same chilling in the fridge, gets your party a special touch without  causing you emotional or financial stress. Enjoy!

Holiday Cocktails

The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 4

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 3

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 2

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 1

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Slow-Cooker Thanksgiving Sides

Slow-Cooker Thanksgiving Sides

My slow cookers make Thanksgiving a breeze. I’m able to make dishes in my 3 cookers & relax for hours while dinner takes care of itself. You may not have 3 slow cookers but you can always borrow an extra cooker or 2 or 3 if needed. Especially once you see these incredible recipes from Southern Living. They have come up with a fabulous selection of side dish recipes you can prepare in your slow cookers, including a yummy recipe for sweet potatoes & bacon! Now you can relax a bit & let dinner take care of itself! Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Thanksgiving Sides

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipes

When I prepare a large dinner or food for a special event, I use as many shortcuts as possible while still offering my guests a fabulous meal. However, there are certain small things I do to impress my guests. And they are all very simple. People are impressed because it just isn’t the way most people would do it. For example, making dressing from scratch. All it takes is dried bread & seasoning plus the things you always add to dressing. Very easy but the fact I made it from scratch seems to impress people. I’m really not out to impress them but I like to make things special for all my guests.

Good Housekeeping has a way YOU can impress your guests this Thanksgiving: homemade cranberry sauce! It is easy to make, allows you to personalize it & will impress your guests! Plus, homemade sauce has a fresher flavor than the canned stuff. Browse through these recipes & try one! Or, use one as a starting point for your own recipe. You never know what you might discover!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce