Christmas entertaining: 5 ways to add sparkle to the season

'Tis the season for hosting friends and family at home — but how best to provide all that food, drink and merriment?

Party planner extraordinaire Jackie Kai Ellis says it's all about keeping it simple

Beaucoup Bakery owner Jackie Kai Ellis loves to host parties. Here she shares her holiday entertaining tips as the Christmas season begins. (Elaine Chau/CBC)

'Tis the season for hosting friends and family at home — but how best to provide all that food, drink and merriment?

The Early Edition's Elaine Chau got a few party planning tips from Beaucoup Bakery's Jackie Kai Ellis. She's thrown her share of parties over the years, and has the process down to a science.

1. Make dishes that are meant to be eaten at room temperature. Try a roasted vegetable salad, or a hearty side like a wild mushroom stuffing.

2. Don't fret about fancy appetizers. It's much easier to just purchase cheeses and charcuterie meats and let your guests have at it.

3. Make a shopping list. It may sound dead simple, but it is a true time saver. You can take it one step further by planning when you are going to cook your food too.

Oven space is at a premium when you have a party, so if you want to be extra organized, create a schedule for your oven on the day of the party.

4. Create an atmosphere that's comfortable. That means not being afraid to be who you are, which might mean making a mistake or two. Remember that your guests are more forgiving than you think.

5. Make a really good dessert. It's the last thing your guests will eat, so that's what they'll remember! Try something simple like a brownie, which can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated or frozen.

Dress it up with some berries, shortbread cookies, and a scoop of ice cream — and you're set!

To hear more from Jackie Kai-Ellis, click on the audio clip labelled: Christmas Entertaining Tips

Jackie Kai Ellis's gluten-free gingerbread brownies are one of her go-to treats for holiday entertaining. (Elaine Chau)

About the Author

Elaine Chau

Associate Producer for CBC Radio in Vancouver

Elaine Chau was born in Hong Kong, and grew up in Montreal and Vancouver. She is the 2008 recipient of the CBC Radio Peter Gzowski internship, multiple RTDNA winner, and Gold Radio Winner in the Health/Medicine category at the 2011 New York Festivals for her series "AIDS: Then and Now".

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