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Five ways to make holiday entertaining easy

(ARA) - Whether hosting a holiday meal for the family or an open house for the neighborhood, entertaining can be stressful - especially during the holidays when there's so much pressure to make everything perfect. 

Ginny Bean, founder of Ginny's catalog and, offers some simple tips on how to make entertaining more enjoyable for all involved. 

Make a plan 

Take some time to really plan out the event. How many are coming? What's on the menu? How should the house look? Make a to-do list and set deadlines. Doing as much as possible in advance will make the day of the party that much easier. 

Better yet, delegate some of the work. "Enlist the help of your family," Bean advises. "Even preschoolers can help put away groceries, wash veggies or fold napkins. If a guest asks if she can bring something, let her. People love to feel useful, and it gives you one less thing to do." 

Gather your tools 

Once the menu is set, review your tableware, serving dishes and cookware to make sure you have what you need. Borrow or purchase what you're missing. Among today's options is a growing array of cookware designed to go seamlessly and beautifully from oven or stovetop to even the most formal table, saving time, money and clean-up. 

Make the most of your space 

The size of the meal may expand during the holidays, but cooking and serving space doesn't. A countertop toaster oven or high-wattage double burner can be a lifesaver for expanding oven and stovetop capacity. On the buffet table, tiered servers hold appetizers and desserts vertically, rather than horizontally, saving valuable space and creating an attractive display. 

Decorate for the senses 

Involve all the senses in your decorating scheme. Enlist a spouse or older child to come up with a holiday music playlist or CD. Be sure to include instrumental pieces to play during dinner so it won't impede conversation. 

Fill the house with holiday scents, such as cinnamon, mulberry or evergreen. Scented candles are an easy and attractive way to provide fragrance and a warm glow to any room, and candlelight makes your guests look 10 years younger. Bean warns, however, against putting candles in high-traffic areas. Today's flameless scented candles are so realistic, with LED bulbs that glow and flicker like a real flame, chances are your guests won't even notice the difference. And they provide a great alternative to placing real candles near curtains, Christmas trees or other decorations. 

Enjoy the results 

Don't be so busy playing hostess that you forget to enjoy yourself. Bean recommends organizing the kitchen so that the bulk of the clean-up can be done later. Have storage containers handy for leftovers, designate an area in the kitchen for dirty dishes, and then forget about the rest. 

The host sets the tone of the party. Forget about perfection and keep the focus on what matters - family and friends. You may find yours is the party that people look forward to throughout the year. 

To browse through hundreds of seasonal kitchen, home and entertaining ideas, or request a copy of Ginny's holiday catalog, log on to or call 1-800-693-0809. You can also find Ginny's on Facebook.

Five ways to make holiday entertaining easy

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