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Does the idea of entertaining over the holidays have you stumped? Try having an open house. It’s the perfect sweet spot between having a few friends in for cocktails and throwing a big party.

A holiday open house is exactly that – a loose, limited period of time (usually 2-4 hours) where people can stop by and stay as long as they’d like. I hosted an open house between Christmas and New Year for my first housewarming. You’d think that people would be partied out by that time of December, but the no pressure, come as you are atmosphere produced great results.

Skip the heavy, complicated dishes. Think about dishes for a crowd that can be made ahead or tapas small bites. A sliced ham or poached salmon served cold make a perfect main course or you can dress up your table with an elegant smoked salmon tart. If you’d like your guests to have something warm, consider setting up a crockpot or two with spiced cider and gluwhein (mulled wine). And of course, bust out your favorite holiday cookie recipes for people just stopping by for dessert.

The possibilities are endless. Whether you’re opening your home for a sophisticated, black-tie cocktail party or hosting a no-frills cookie exchange, remember Ina Garten’s advice: “The most important thing for having a party is that the hostess is having fun. I never have anything that has to be cooked while the guests are there. The only thing I might have to do is take something out of the oven and carve it.” Enjoy!


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