Style Files: Marc Kaufman’s holiday entertaining tips

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Marc Kaufman

Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Marc's Tips:

Combine a holiday card and invitation in one
Hard copy invitations are still very well-received; it provides a keepsake and memory
Send a creative invitation, such as an ornament, menorah, or cookie
Incorporate fun colors and designs, such as the Pantone Color of the Year

Incorporate family heirlooms, when possible
Use a soup tureen for a flower arrangement, fill a beautiful old bowl with ornaments, or integrate place settings from various family members
Include elements that tell a story; this makes for great conversation starters
Mix and match
Reuse/repurpose items
Use ornaments or pine cones as place cards
Place scented candles around the living and/or dining room

Party Sequence
Serve light hors d’oeuvres, so that guests aren’t full before the meal
It’s always nice to have a bowl of almonds and olives out on the coffee table or bar
Seat guests for the first course – it gathers the group and allows for the host to make a toast
Incorporate a unique toast, such as a poem, inspirational quote, or letter from a relative who is unable to attend
Make the rest of the meal a buffet; this gets guests up and moving around, and allows them to socialize with others who are not seated nearby

Food and Beverage
Experiment with new recipes, or put your own spin on a family favorite
Print menus with creative dish names and display them on the table or buffet
Name a dish after the family member whose recipe you are showcasing
Printed menus act as a fun take away and memory
Serve one or two signature cocktails and come up with creative and festive names

Activities and Ice Breakers
Assign a friend or family member to be a guest mixologist
Task him/her to come up with the signature cocktail and name
Host a blind taste test with a popular holiday dish, such as potato latkes for a Hanukkah party
Have everyone make their favorite recipe and guests guess who prepared each latke. This gives the host less responsibility and allows time to focus on the main dish

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