I love to play hostess. Inviting people into my home and welcoming them with food and drink is my love language. But not everyone feels natural in that role–I totally get it. In fact, for many of you, the idea of all that planning, prepping, and entertaining might make you feel completely overwhelmed. Heck, that’s the reason I started this blog back in 2007! I want to share tips and inspiration that takes out the overwhelm and leaves you confident and excited to send out those invites or to cook up a special weeknight meal.
But, even I am guilty of the occassional overthinking, overplanning, and overextending myself (just ask my husband and kids!). And I’ll admit I may have had my share of “company is coming” freak-out moments. But despite the slip ups, overall, I like to keep things simple which translates into a less-stressed hostess and a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests.
So, as you start planning those inevitable holiday gatherings I urge you to try your best to keep things as simple as you can and take pressure off of yourself to “do it all” or make everything “prefect.”
Believe me, you’ll be a better hostess and your guests will have an even better time. In fact, here are a few things your guests wish you knew.
1. They are thankful you are hosting (and they don’t have to)
They didn’t have to make sure their toilets were clean, they had drink ice on hand, or have to be the ones cleaning up tonight’s mess, tomorrow. So basically you’re already their favorite person because you’re willing to host at your home.
2. They can’t tell if you baked the pie or if it came from the store
They won’t be able to tell one way or the other so make it easy on yourself and grab food at the market. Just take it out of the packaging and present it in a thoughtful way. (You know, like Sarah Jessica Parker did in I Don’t Know How She Does It.)
Looking for a fun family game? This DIY cactus ring toss was a huge hit with my family! We like to play games together often (and we’re also a pretty competitive group so it gets interesting), indoors or out. Since summer is winding down, we’ve been trying to play more outdoor games and that’s what inspired this DIY cactus ring toss game.
The cactus trend is still going strong and I thought making a cactus ring toss game just screamed summer–so viola! It was really easy to make. We were playing within 30 minutes of putting it together (it’s triple digits with a dry heat so the spray paint basically instantly dried). We put ours in a pot so you can technically play this indoors or out (or even take it to the park for a picnic). (more…)
This post is sponsored by Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
Setting up a build-your-own bagel bar might be the best idea I’ve had in a long time. It’s the perfect breakfast or brunch spread when entertaining (think book club, bridal shower, baby shower), or when hosting out of town guests. Imagine your in-laws waking up to this spread! The whole thing really looks and feels so fancy when in reality it all takes only about ten minutes to set up (and requires zero cooking!). But, you don’t have to tell anyone that.
Plus, with a variety of toppings, there is sure to be something for everyone.
I like the idea of using mini bagels because then you can make a few different versions and get creative with your toppings without having to commit to a full bagel and be too stuffed to go back for another.
I also opted not to toast the bagels (if you can’t get on board with that I totally understand) because I like them a little soft and not warm when I pile my toppings on. You can set a toaster nearby if you want to give guests the option to toast theirs.
The secret to a good build-your-own-bagel creation is a good base of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It’s Spread it on the bagel before you add your toppings. Made with fresh milk, real cream and no preservatives, nothing else tastes like Philadelphia Cream Cheese so be sure to be generous with it.
In the next step you just can’t go wrong–add as many or as few toppings as you’d like.
My advice is to make a couple different creations and experiment with the flavors. My favorite combo ended up being topping my bagel and cream cheese with smoked salmon, cucumber, red onion, and chives. YUM. You really can’t ever go wrong with avocado either if I’m being honest.
What do you think? Ready to impress guests with this easy bagel bar idea?
Serves: 8 Servings (One serving equals one mini bagel or two halves)
8 Mini bagels
8 oz PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Brick, softened
1 Avocado, sliced
18 Cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
½ Red inion, thinly sliced
1 Cucumber, thinly sliced
8-ounce Smoked salmon
Fresh dill and chives for garnish
The purpose here is to have guests create their own bagels adding their favorite toppings. So, you’ll want to set out all the ingredients in a nice spread. Remove the softened PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Brick and place it in a bowl so guests can easily spread the cream cheese on their bagels. If the bagels are not already pre-sliced, you’ll want to slice them ahead of time. Set all of the other ingredients out in small bowls or on platters.
For all of your entertaining needs, turn to Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Always have it on hand to create fun appetizers and desserts that pop. I had a great time developing my build-your-own bagel bar
for out of town guests. For more creamy, delicious recipe ideas, click here.
If you’re looking for a simple appetizer to make this summer, try these cream cheese stuffed peppers. You’ll need just a few ingredients, they require no cooking, and (I promise) you can’t mess them up! Easy, foolproof, and delicious? Cheers to that!
Another reason that I love this recipe? These peppers are so colorful which means they look gorgeous on a platter. This makes them perfect for entertaining. Whether it’s hosting game night or a family dinner, this appetizer looks as good as it tastes. I also love that you can make these up to a day ahead of time (if you’re expecting guests) but can also whip them up in ten minutes (should you have impromptu guests). I recently made this for a family game night and they were gone in a flash!
The first step is gathering your ingredients: mini sweet peppers, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, fresh dill, and fresh chives. Don’t grab the dried herbs here, fresh is the way to go. The flavors of the fresh herbs pop so well in the cream cheese.
I love when recipes are easy enough to remember without pulling out a cookbook or opening up Pinterest, don’t you?
Once you’ve gathered all of the ingredients, it’s time to whip them up. First, I start by making the cream cheese mixture. Philadelphia Cream Cheese is the base (and it’s delicious because it’s made with fresh milk and real cream and no preservatives), then you mix in the fresh dill and chives (see recipe below). Next, cut the sweet peppers by removing the stem and cutting them in half. Be sure to remove any seeds as well.
The final step is to simply spread the cream cheese mixture into the sweet pepper halves. Serve them on a platter and you’ve got yourself the perfect (and easiest) summer appetizer!
What do you think? Will you give these cream cheese stuffed peppers a try?
Add a little football flair to your Super Bowl with this simple DIY. These football mason jars are easy enough the kiddos can make them (which sounds like a touch down to me!). All you need are mason jars and white tape.
The trick is to fill your mason jars with a dark brown beverage. This could be any dark soda or root beer. Also, iced tea works well. Or, if you want to make these for the grown ups, try a dark beer. (more…)
Two things are true this time of year in my household: we watch a lot of football and we always seem to have a house full of family and friends. I love that entertaining on game day has a much more relaxed vibe which means it’s the perfect opportunity to keep things simple. No need to fuss in the kitchen or plan a ton of appetizers. Simply bake your favorite frozen pizzas and serve up a beer cocktail –you’ll make everyone happy!
Last weekend we had a few friends over to watch the game and I served up this pumpkin shandy beer cocktail (recipe below). It was really delicious and easy enough for guests to whip up themselves. This means more relaxing for the hostess and more time to visit with friends while we watched the game. (more…)