Category: recipes

Ten Holiday Entertaining Tips

Throwing a holiday get together doesn’t have to be stressful or feel improbable during this busy time of year.  Follow these ten no fail tips to host a memorable holiday gathering.

Traffic Flow

To avoid traffic jams, place the bar and the food in two different areas.  Spreading people throughout your home make for better mingling.   Create a plan for managing coats and wraps as well as gifts you may be receiving.

Easy on the Food

There is no need to go overboard on the types of foods you serve.  Having five or six items to choose from, mixing hot and cold, on a beautifully decorated table will make for an exceptional party.  Abundance is everything during the holidays, so be sure to have enough nibbles to satiate all your guests.

photo by Caroline Hernandez

Serve in Style

Eschew the paper plates and stock up on durable white melamine plates that go straight into the dishwasher.   Choose a neutral white color and cool shape so that they can be reused throughout the year.

Glassware too!


There are economic sources for stocking up on multiples of bar ware, including Riedel stems, that can be reused time and again.  Save the boxes they come in for easier storage after the pieces are washed and dried.

Use Unscented Candles

Since scented candles mingle with other aromas, including food and your revelers perfume, use unscented candles in your holiday decor.   Keep candles in the center of the table or placed up high.  We don’t want guests catching on fire by reaching over an open flame or backing into a low placed pillar.

photo by Element5 Digital

Stock the bar

Anticipate that guests will consume two drinks apiece in the first hour, then an additional drink per hour for the party duration.   For a self serve bar, set out openers, glasses and plenty of napkins.  Check back frequently to ensure that the bar remains well supplied.

Craft a signature cocktail

Instead of a full bar, serve beer, wine and soft drinks along with one signature cocktail.  This tree beverage dispenser makes it extra special.

Try Santa Punch

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 qt. pomegranate juice
  • 3 cups blanco tequila
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle dry sparkling wine, chilled

Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cool syrup completely (about 45 minutes)

Stir together pomegranate juice, next 3 ingredients, and simple syrup; chill 4 hours. Pour mixture into a punch bowl or dispenser, and gently stir in sparkling wine just before serving.

Tunes set the Mood

Every holiday party needs a good soundtrack.  Consider your music and the volume based on your guest list.  Conversation is what counts at any celebration, so be sensitive with your play list.

Keep it Cool

Even on the coldest of winter nights, a room full of guests can heat up quickly.  Keep your house cool prior the party turning up the heat only when guests refuse to shed their coats.   Instead of lighting the fireplace fill the hearth with a mix of  unscented candles.

Powder Room Prep

Have the powder room guest ready with pretty disposal hand towels, lovely soap and lotion, tissues and plenty of extra toilet paper within easy reach.


Mr. H says: Life is the best party you’ll ever be invited to-Enjoy!

The bar cart is back in style

Happy hour has gotten a lot easier to host with the resurgence of the iconic bar cart.  Create an instant party by simply rolling out all the accouterments for cocktail making.


A well stocked cart should make your guests feel instantly at ease to help themselves to a drink.  Stock with plenty of ice, pretty napkins, garnishes and bar tools for opening wine and mixing drinks.

Worlds Away
Emma Bauso
Bradburn Home

It is requisite Southern hospitality to offer a guest a beverage when they arrive.  From sleek to rustic, there are a wide variety of styles in every price range to suit your decor.

Tommy Bahama Home
Bradburn Home
Baxton Studio
Worlds Away
Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian

Mix a pitcher of this Fall cocktail for your next happy hour: Hard Cider Sangria Recipe

  • 1 cup quartered and thinly sliced unpeeled green, yellow and red apples
  • 1 navel orange—quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup apple juice, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup apple brandy
  • One 22-ounce bottle hard apple cider, chilled
  • Ice

In a pitcher, combine the apples with the orange, apple juice, lemon juice and brandy. Just before serving, add the hard cider. Serve in tall glasses over ice.

Mr. H says: A little party never hurt anybody-Enjoy!

Outdoor Spring Entertaining

With the weather finally turning to Spring, it’s time to move the party outside.  In the South, elegant entertaining is a way life and outdoor entertaining should be just as luxurious.

Ditch the paper and plastic for a colorful array of assorted table top.  Hillsborough, NC company, VIETRI is the largest importer of handcrafted Italian tableware and home decor products and we all know the Italians are master sat la dolce vita!

Vietri dinnerware

Think Spring produce, like asparagus and carrots, when creating centerpieces for a Spring party.

Create a dedicated area for the bar.  Provide plenty of backyard friendly glasses and napkins.

Williams Sonoma

Be sure to plan for lighting at nightfall with solar lights strung high enough to walk under.

Pottery Barn

Gather in the backyard with family and friends to enjoy a few games of classic lawn bowling.

Williams Sonoma Lawn Bowling Game

Host a gracious picnic out of this English willow basket from Williams-Sonoma.  Filled with fine tableware, linens and serving essentials for food and beverages, it has everything for a grand outdoor dining adventure.

Williams Sonoma Wicker Picnic Basket

The cocktail hour is an entertaining must in the South.  Feature the refreshingly light British Pimm’s Cup at your next outdoor affair.  This drink pairs lemon and ginger with the spicy fruit flavors of a gin-based liqueur called Pimm’s No. 1 cup.

Pimms Cup photo Becky Luigart-Stayner  Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
Becky Luigart-Stayner; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
  • 3/4 cup Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 cups ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 1/3 cups sparkling water, chilled
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into 4 spears

Fill 4 tall (12-ounce) glasses with ice cubes.  Pour 3 tablespoons Pimm’s into each glass. Pour 1/2 cup ginger ale and 1/3 cup sparkling water into each glass; stir to combine. Garnish each serving with 1 lemon slice and 1 cucumber spear. Serve immediately.

Mr. H says: Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’-Enjoy!

Color: Pumpkin

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching and Fall in full swing it seems appropriate to enjoy THE color of the season: Pumpkin

Pumpkin drink chiller

Pumpkin Divine Cocktail

Pumpkin Divine Cocktail

  • 1 part Grey Goose La Poire vodka
  • 1 part pumpkin butter
  • 1/2  part triple sec
  • 1/2 part simple syrup
  • Pinch of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger
  • Grated nutmeg and apple chip for garnish

Add all ingredients to  a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with nutmeg and apple chip.

Mr. H says-Only the knife knows what goes on in the head of a pumpkin-Enjoy!

Friday Five: Gracious Greenville

Our recent visit to Greenville, South Carolina for an ASID Carolinas gala weekend, certainly changed what I thought about this upstate city.  Vibrant,  youthful and completely walkable it is the perfect blend of big city excitement and small town simplicity.

Here are my top five picks on this remarkable Southern city.

1-Main Street Renaissance

Once a four lane, blighted roadway, Greenville’s Main Street is now a beautifully designed, bustling hub for shopping and dining, due to a redevelopment project begun in the 1970s

Greenville SC before redevelopment
Municipal Association of South Carolina

Main Street Greenville South Carolina

2-Repurposed Textile Mills

Known as “The Textile Center of the South”, Greenville’s many mills languished in the 1960s due to the import less expensive goods from overseas.  Many of these immense buildings still sit vacant while some have been developed into housing with many of the unique architectural elements of the building kept intact.

Mills Mill Greenville SC

Mills Mill Condo Greenville

3-Arts and Culture

Whether enjoying a performance at the Peace center, visiting the Greenville County Art Museum, or enjoying the public works around the city, Greenville has the arts and culture covered.


4-Waterfalls in the middle of town

An urban oasis, the Falls Park boasts a wooded valley park containing the falls of the Reedy River

Falls Park on the Reedy River Greenville SC
Diego Delso

5-Innovative Interior Design

Greenville designers take liberty in mixing traditional and contemporary elements, as we saw in the home of Katie Skoloff, ASID.

Katie Skoloff, ASID

In Site Designs

Greenville Interior Design

Katie’s home was the spectacular back drop for an evening cocktail party where we sipped on “Kickin Mules”

Kickin Mule copper mug

Here’s the recipe: In a copper mug filled with ice combine 1 1/2 ounces vodka, 1/2 ounce lime juice and 3 ounces of ginger beer.  Add a lime for garnish and a napkin to mop up condensation.

Mr. H says: We all hope for breakthrough rebirth moments-Enjoy!

Poolside Perfection

Hot temps call for a cooling dip in the pool.  High style pool side “rooms” make for luxurious lounging.

A Charleston pool with a view

Charleston cabana

A classically inspired pavilion

A cool modern beauty

Crisp blue and white stripes hits the right party note

Zen like oasis

Louvered roof has a Caribbean feel

Aristotle Design Group

A portable cabana can turn any spot into a refuge from the sun

Canopy deck lounger
North Cape

Even fido can relax in his private cabana

Dog cabana
La Lune

Try this summer sipper the next time you’re pool side from Southern Living

3/4 cup frozen raspberries              3 1/2 (12-oz.) bottles beer, chilled

1 (12-oz.) container frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate, thawed

1/2 cup vodka

Stir together first 4 ingredients. and serve over ice.

Mr. H says: The weather and love are two things you can never be sure of-Enjoy!

Independent Style

“Ours is the only country deliberately founded on a good idea.”  ~John Gunther
As our country gets ready to celebrate our 235th year as an independent nation its time to show off our national colors of red white and blue to honor the occasion.  Here are some hip ways to incorporate this dynamic combination.

Patriotic pillows from World Market

World Market flag pillows

It doesn’t all have to be stars and stripes as shown in this casual, Williams Sonoma, table setting in our country’s colors.

Fourth of July table Williams Sonoma

Fly Old Glory.  Check out the protocol for flying the US flag at this web site:

Fourth of July flag

The furry friends can sport the colors too.

Fourth of July dog

Create a festive cocktail: The Yankee Doodle

1 ½ oz  SKYY Infusions Grape vodka

1 tsp. Sugar

4 slices of fresh peeled ginger

Top with Soda

Muddle grapes, ginger, and sugar in pint glass. Add ice and SKYY Infusions Grape Vodka. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass over fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with raspberries & blueberries!

Mr. H says: America is a tune that must be sung together-Enjoy!

Friday Five: Staying Cool

Hot.  That’s the Charleston forecast for at least the next 126 days.  Here are five ways to stay cool in style this summer:

1-Turn on the Ceiling Fans-We all know the efficiency of using a fan but have your heard?  Lowcountry Lighting is having a ceiling fan sale when you buy one you get one ½ off through August 31st!

Wicker ceiling fan

2-Misting Patio Umbrellas-Enjoy the outdoors in the hottest of temps with a market umbrella that features misters on the ends of the ribs.   Refreshing mist cools the air 10 degrees.

Misting Patio Umbrella

3-Freezer Mugs-Keep those drinks cold with these ingenious mugs.  Double wall plastic has liquid that freezes keeping drinks cool without ice.

Freezer Mugs

4-Close the shades-Solar heat gain from direct sunlight makes your summer home warmer.  Simple roller shades, in a chic pattern, is a fashionable way to keep things cool.

Window Roller Shades

5-Eat some spicy food-Scientists believe that spicy foods make you sweat without actually raising your body temperature. Capsaicin, a chemical found in things like hot peppers, will make your skin is damp thus cooling you with evaporation.

Here’s a spicy Cooking Light recipe: Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Sour Dressing

  • 4 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot chile sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 1/4 cups vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped dry-roasted cashews, unsalted

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add shrimp to pan during last 3 minutes of cook time. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain.

Combine juice, sugar, hot chili sauce, and fish sauce in a large bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pasta mixture, lettuce, and next 4 ingredients (through cilantro) to juice mixture; toss to coat. Place about 2 cups pasta mixture on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle each serving with 4 teaspoons cashews.

Mr. H says-It’s hard to remain elegant in such hot weather-Enjoy!

Easter Egg Ideas

I love that the Piggly Wiggly in Charleston is selling dyed Easter eggs this year.  It certainly makes it easy on those that like the concept but don’t have time to decorate eggs.  However, if you want to tackle this project before the holiday here are some beautiful ideas.Easter Eggs in carton

Brightly painted eggs

Painted Easter eggs

Sugar coated Easter eggs

Sugar coat Easter eggs

Elaborately painted eggs

Easter egg design ideas

A super chic Easter table top

And after the hunt enjoy this Curried Egg Salad from

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup diced (1/4-inch) Granny Smith apple (from 1 apple)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, curry powder, mustard, salt, and cayenne in a bowl until combined. Add eggs, apple, onion, and cilantro and stir to combine.

Mr. H says:  Love is all you need, but a chocolate bunny doesn’t hurt now and then-Enjoy!

Friday Five: Get outdoor ready

Ramp up your outdoor space with these five tips:

Spiff up your patio furniture with some new cushions.  Check out these selections from Duralee fabrics (

Duralee Pavillion collection

Duralee Stripe Outdoor Fabric

Duralee Floral Outdoor Fabric

Splurge on some new outdoor furniture like the hip Cabana Club Collection from Tropitone

Tropitone Cabana Club collection

The Tropitone Lakeside Collection has a more elegant look

Tropitone Lakeside collection

Treat your plants to an upgrade with some new planters from Gardeners Supply

Gardeners Supply mazzano planter

Refresh or replace oil burning torches and fire pots

Pottery Barn tiki torch

Fire up the grill, but first give it a spring cleaning.  Wash all the grates in warm soapy water and clean the inside surfaces with a stiff wire brush and a little soapy water.

Weber grill

With the warmer weather you’ll want to get bikini ready so here is a yummy and low-fat maple glazed grilled salmon recipe.

  • 2  teaspoons  paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground ancho chile powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  brown sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  sea or kosher salt
  • 4  (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  teaspoon  maple syrup

Prepare grill, heating to medium.

Combine first 5 ingredients. Sprinkle fish with salt; rub with paprika mixture.

Place fish on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes. Drizzle fish with syrup; grill 1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Mr. H says: Spring is natures way of saying let’s party-Enjoy!