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Entertain like a pro this holiday season

Those who know me are familiar with my extreme love of entertaining — especially around the holidays.

If you’re expecting guests this season, here are some tips for being a great host while staying within a reasonable budget.


I know this may seem obvious, but for me, it’s easy to go overboard when throwing a party, especially if I haven’t set a spending limit.

The first step in creating a budget is knowing how many guests will be attending, then setting a dollar amount for each category: food, décor, drinks, entertainment, venue and favors (optional).

If you opt to give favors, consider handmade gifts. They are so meaningful and much easier on the wallet. For example, your guests definitely will appreciate a craft you made or cookies you baked.


When determining what foods you will serve, keep in mind the time of day and how many guests you’re expecting.

Also consider how you can get the most out of each dollar spent. For instance, a taco or slider bar will go much further than trying to feed each guest his or her own steak.

Another cost-saving tip: Everyone loves an extravagant charcuterie board, but if you’ve ever made one, you know they are not cheap. This is one area where, I admit, I always go over budget. You can create a somewhat budget friendly charcuterie board by utilizing a wholesale market.


This is one of the best budget-friendly Christmas party ideas. Rather than trying to accommodate everyone’s drink preferences, choose one red wine, one white wine and one cocktail. Set a cost for these items that you are comfortable with and stick to it. It will be much easier to select a single drink to serve at your event.

Here are a few of my favorites: cranberry Moscow mule, caramel apple martini and peppermint mojito. You also can also note BYOB on the invitations.

Happy entertaining!






What you’ll need

• 4 ounces ginger beer

(Fever Tree is my favorite)

• 4 ounces cranberry juice

• 2 ounces good quality vodka (my preference is Ketel One)

• fresh limes for lime juice (plan for one lime for every mule you are expecting to make)

• crushed ice cubes

• garnish items: fresh cranberries, rosemary sprigs and lime slices


• Place one cup crushed ice into a copper mug.

• Add ginger beer, cranberry juice, vodka and the juice of a squeezed half lime to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

• Stir or very gently shake, then pour into the copper mug.

• Top with cranberries, garnish with a lime slices and rosemary sprigs and serve.



What you’ll need

• 2 ounces caramel vodka

• 4 ounces apple cider

• salted caramel sauce garnish

• apple slice garnish


• Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake vigorously for 15 seconds and strain glass.

• Garnish with caramel sauce and an apple slice.



What you’ll need

• 10 – 12 fresh mint leaves

• 2 tablespoons extra fine granulated sugar

• 1 teaspoon lime juice

• 1 ounce Peppermint Schnapps

• 1 1/2 ounces rum

• Ice

• 4 ounces ginger ale

• crushed candy canes, to garnish


• Moisten rim of glass, rim with crushed candy canes.

• In glass, muddle mint leaves, sugar and lime juice. Fill glass with ice.

• Pour Schnapps and rum over ice. Top with ginger ale. Add more crushed candy canes if desired.


Written by Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller is a certified interior designer, professional home stager and the president of Jennuwine Design, Sophisticated Staging. Reach her at

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