In our continuing series "Early Holidays on the Cheap," "Early Show" contributor Katie Lee offered some simple, elegant and inexpensive tips on entertaining.
Using ideas from her latest book, "The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions," Lee shared ways to be on a budget and still have a fun party.
-Make lists, lists, and more lists of everything that needs to be done for the party.
-Clean and set up the party space the day before.
-To save space, move any nonessential furniture out of the party area and into your bedroom.
-Take some time to tidy up your bathroom. Clear your sink of beauty product clutter, put out fresh soap, clean hand towels, and plenty of toilet paper.
-Short on space? Clear off the shelf of a bookcase and use for bar setup with martini and wine glasses, a couple of drink garnishes, and plenty of cocktail napkins.
-Designated drivers and non-drinkers shouldn't be forced to drink water all night. Offer a nonalcoholic drink such as a fruit spritzer. Just mix fruit juice, club soda, and sliced fruit.
-When it's time to wrap up the party, turn the lights up and put away the booze.
These only take a minute to prepare and are always a hit and appropriate for any occasion. The key is to serve simple food that can be eaten easily. At a cocktail party people are standing and mingling, nobody wants to sit down with a knife and fork. Finger foods are essential!
Katie's Hors D'Oeuvres Suggestions:
-Wrap store-bought breadsticks in prosciutto
-Fill endive leaves with hummus and dust with paprika. (Endive leaves make great vessels for other simple, tasty combinations as well, like goat cheese with crushed walnuts and drizzled with honey, or smoked salmon with crème fraiche and chives.)
-Make a variety of crostini by toasting thinly sliced baguettes and topping with goat cheese and roasted red pepper, Gorgonzola and fig jam, ricotta with olive oil and sea salt, or olive tapenade.
-Marinate olives with fresh herbs and red pepper flakes.
-Season nuts with chili powder and toast lightly.
Stocking the Bar
It's cocktail hour somewhere, and having a versatile bar makes it that much more fun when guests arrive. In addition to spirits and mixers, it's a great idea to keep a drink-mixing guide by the bar in case someone requests a cocktail you're not familiar with.
Mixers (tonic, seltzer, juices)
Tools (ice bucket & tongs, shaker, strainer, two-sided jigger, bottle opener)
Katie's Hostess Gift
It's nice to give your guests a little something at the end of the night, but if you have a big group your inexpensive party and get costly very quickly. But putting together a simple spice blend is easy, economical and every time your friends use it, they'll think of you. All you have to do is mix the spices together, place in a cellophane bag and tie with a nice ribbon.
Katie's Spice Mix
1 cup salt
1/4 cup pepper
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder