Photo by Regina Charboneau
If you have read any of my articles on entertaining you know my number one rule: "Don't be a martyr."
Holiday entertaining doesn't have to be expensive or difficult. I decided to go to the grocery store and find short cuts for busy people who want to entertain but can't find the time. Pre-made items can easily substitute some of my traditional, from-scratch dishes. The end result isn't always apples to apples, but you shouldn't shy away from taking the odd short-cut here and there.
With either route, the good news is that you can entertain 20 friends for under $100. Even though I am a chef and cooking comes easily to me, I tried to put myself in the shoes of friends in other fields who don't have the time to cook. I also wanted to be aware of the cost of entertaining--it doesn't take long to spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store when planning a party.
Anyone can go to some of the better gourmet stores out there and create an amazing spread without cooking a thing. There are some gorgeous pre-made items that are also very expensive. My goal here was to try to create a budget-friendly menu that could be prepared in less than two hours.
I love entertaining during the holidays: The backdrop is there the minute my tree is trimmed. If my house is decorated, I am having a party. Even if you don't do a tree, you can achieve a holiday atmosphere with a few poinsettias and some colored ornaments placed in a glass bowl.