Claire Robinson’s 5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Holiday Party

November 15, 2010 at 9:30 am , by

Are you in holiday party planning mode yet? Don’t stress, Food Network’s Claire Robinson is here to help! In our December 2010/January 2011 issue she offers five easy-to-make appetizer recipes from her book, 5 Ingredient Fix—now she’s sharing her five tips for planning a successful holiday party.

Offer a variety of foods. “With most meals, you’ll never please everybody,” she says. “But the great thing about appetizers and hors d’oeuvres is that it’s your one chance to have little bites of food that please everybody.” Claire likes to offer meat and vegetarian options, as well as hot and cold food that you can either dip or pop into your mouth.

Keep the atmosphere relaxed and casual. “I find that the best holiday parties are the ones that are a little more low-key. You can let the food be fancy or let guests dress up if they want, but just let it be a casual event and everybody can have a good time.”

Have drinks and at least one appetizer ready for when guests arrive. “I always like to have a signature cocktail and one nibble ready ahead of time to greet people with, because even if you’re wrapping up in the kitchen, there’s still one thing that’s ready to go.”

Spread the appetizer plates around the room. “I like to place the appetizers in a few different spots, because there’s nothing worse than everybody hovering over one bowl of nuts. It also helps keep your guests moving around the room.”

Don’t be afraid to make your own centerpieces. “It could be as simple as filling a vase with a bunch of inexpensive candy canes instead of spending a fortune on flowers. I’ve done everything from putting extra baguettes in big vases to putting fresh herbs in small glasses on the center of the table.”