(BPT) - The holiday season is chaotic enough without the added stress of entertaining. Whether you open your house to family and friends, or attend parties hosted by others this season, these tips will help you keep tensions low and stomachs full wherever you celebrate.
Don't show up empty-handed
Although the invitation didn't specifically say to bring a gift, don't let that be your excuse to show up empty-handed to your family or friends' holiday festivities. Host gifts don't need to break the bank. Do a little research about what your host would enjoy - maybe it's a decorative candle, a cute ornament, their favorite homemade peanut brittle or an assortment of naturally good Arla(R) Havarti and Gouda cheese alongside festive jams and spreads.
These options don't have to cost a pretty penny - just enough to show your host you appreciate all of the hard work and money put in to hosting the party. Your thoughtfulness will not go overlooked.
Save time and money with a holiday potluck
When you are the host, instead of trying to do it all, look to your guests to help build the perfect holiday party menu. It's customary for the host to supply the main dish and beverages, while the guests bring the rest.
To ensure your potluck doesn't turn out to be all cookies and pie, create a sign-up sheet for appetizers, side dishes and desserts. That way people get to choose what to bring, but you'll have an even assortment of delicious food to go around.
Add an element of competition by allowing your guests to vote for their favorite dish of the night to earn some holiday bragging rights for next year's party.
Try not to overindulge
During the holiday season, it's easy to get carried away with heavy entrees and sweet treats as vegetable side dishes fall to the wayside. Instead, opt for a dish that feels indulgent even though it's filled with greens and naturally good seasonal ingredients.
This recipe for Apple, Gouda and Farro Salad from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod is a delicious, healthy and hearty addition to any holiday spread. It's the ultimate cold-weather salad full of flavor and textures from the apple slices, Gouda bits, farro, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and a simple apple cider vinaigrette. Plus, it takes only minutes to throw together, making it the perfect time-saving side dish for any holiday get-together.
Apple, Gouda and Farro Salad
Makes 6 servings as a side dish, or 4 servings as a meal
For the salad:
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
6 cups mixed greens
1 large apple, core removed and thinly sliced
6 ounces Arla Dofino(R) Gouda cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup cooked farro
1/3 cup dried cranberries
For the apple cider vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Teaspoons honey
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Teaspoon minced shallot
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
First, toast the walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the walnuts turn brown and smell toasted. This will take about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
Place the greens in a large bowl. Top with sliced apples, Gouda cheese cubes, farro, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard and shallot. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette and gently toss. Serve!
Note: Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples are great options, but any apple variety will work.