How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Meal

The holiday season is my favorite time of year, but it can be really stressful if you’re hosting dinner. Getting all the food ready to serve while it’s still hot and making sure all your guests are comfortable while doing it… that’s a daunting task! Over the past several years of hosting holiday meals, I’ve learned a few tricks to make the process go more smoothly. Not only does everything get done, but I actually enjoy myself at the same time.

Five tips for a stress-free holiday meal.

Delegate responsibilities

Just because you’re the hostess, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Ask local guests to bring side dishes that can be reheated before dinner. Desserts and appetizers are a great option if you really like to have control over the menu. Give your kids cleaning duties. Even younger ones can help unload the dishwasher or run a vacuum before guests arrive. I’m not super confident about making gravy so I put my dad in charge of that task. read more

7 Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Tablescapes

The holiday season is coming up quickly! There are so many wonderful Christmas decor ideas cropping up everywhere that it’s tempting to skip over Thanksgiving, but I like to hang onto the fall decor just a little longer. A beautiful Thanksgiving table makes the meal feel so much more festive. Costs can add up quickly when you consider the food, drinks and decor so today I’m sharing some simple, budget-friendly Thanksgiving tablescape ideas.

Budget-friendly ideas for Thanksgiving tablescapes.

First up is a table from Jenn at Clean & Scentsible. The pumpkins in various sizes and shades of white accentuate the brighter pops of orange and red. The striped runner anchors the centerpiece and brings in all those lovely fall colors as well. Tip: hit your local grocery store or Trader Joes the day before Halloween for super cheap pumpkins! read more

A Very Harry Potter Birthday

harry potter party

My daughter just turned 8 years old, and as we just finished reading Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone together as a family, she requested a Harry Potter birthday party. Since both her dad and I love Harry Potter, we had a blast cooking up all sorts of fun for our daughter and her friends.

Invitations

The first step was creating the perfect invitation. I imitated Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter and printed it out on parchment paper. We edited the wording a bit because not all the girls have read the book and we didn’t want it to be confusing. Hello Paper Moon has a link to some awesome HP fonts that you can download. (She also makes and sells really authentic-looking acceptance letters.) I found the Hogwarts coat of arms on google. We folded the letter inside the printable envelope from Just Sweet and Simple and put it into a 6×9 manilla envelope for mailing. read more

A Simply Beautiful Bridal Shower

I recently attended a bridal shower for my best friend’s sister. She did a fabulous job tying the shower into the style of her home. She also brought in elements of the wedding decor that her sister had planned. Her home is a beautiful craftsman and I would describe her style as clean vintage farmhouse, if that’s even a thing. There are really fun vintage pieces throughout, but it’s not cluttered or overdone.

Hosting a bridal shower? Find inspiration in the details of this simply beautiful event.The tables were spread with crisp, white tablecloths and simple centerpieces of potted fresh herbs and Billy Balls (aka Craspedia). I’ve never seen these flowers before, but they add a little whimsy to the table arrangements. read more

Easiest BBQ Meal Ever

We had a small get-together for the 4th of July, and I wanted a BBQ meal that would be super easy. We were planning to spend part of the afternoon at another friend’s house so we didn’t have much time to prepare dinner for our own guests. This meal feels homemade, but the rotisseries chicken cuts the time down by a lot so it takes very little prep-work.

BBQ Pulled-Chicken Sandwiches (feeds 8-9)

2 pre-cooked rotisserie chickens
2 bottles BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
Shred the chicken off the bone (I don’t use the skin) using a fork or your fingers. Put the chicken and about 1 1/2 bottles of bbq sauce in a crockpot and stir. I add a little water so it’s not so sticky. Let it sit on low for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally or on high for about an hour. Serve with sandwich buns, cheese and any other condiment you like. read more