Sandra Lee shares her simple tips for entertaining at home (ARA) - For the average person, hostessing does not mean setting out your finest table cloth and most prized dinnerware. One of the keys to being a good hostess is to create a warm home environment that's ready to welcome guests at any time.
Planning a grand dinner party or an over-the-top outdoor soiree can be a blast, but more often than not, you'll find yourself playing host to your family and friends with little advanced notice. By keeping your house stocked with a few simple items, and having some go-to ideas for quick snacks, drinks and decor, you'll keep your home ever-ready for guests.
"For great entertaining on the fly, it's best to keep things simple," says Sandra Lee, Food Network host and home decorating expert. "You're not planning an extravagant dinner party, so it's best to work with what you have and have fun doing it."
Lee also recommends keeping a few simple design or entertaining solutions around the house to make hosting comfortable and effortless. Here are a few of her recommendations:
* Keep colorful napkins or festive paper cups on hand. If you have extra items left from a previous party, the perfect occasion to use them is when unexpected guests drop in. Handing them an everyday drink in a fancy glass will make them feel as if their visit is a special occasion.
* Always keep your home smelling fresh. A great way to do this is by using Febreze Set & Refresh air fresheners, which don't use electricity or batteries and slowly diffuse aromas by releasing scented oils. Febreze Set & Refresh is available in Linen & Sky, Spring & Renewal, Meadows & Rain, Hawaiian Aloha, Thai Dragon Fruit and Apple Spice & Delight scents. When your guests are greeted by a refreshing home scent, they'll immediately feel comfortable and welcome in your home.
* Stock up on desert mixes so you can whip up treats in a matter of minutes. Lee recommends frozen cookies or cake batter for a quick and tasty treat.
* When guests drop by, don't worry about painstakingly whipping up your famous made-from-scratch margaritas, which take time and effort to make perfectly. Instead, keep simple beverage ingredients on hand for a cool and refreshing drink. Even a cold glass of water with a lime on the rim of the glass will be a welcome refresher for your guests.
* If you and your guests have your kids in tow, have the children help you with hosting by offering a fun food-related activity. Keep ingredients for s'mores on hand (which will stay fresh for a long time) and let the kids make their own. You can either heat them up in the microwave, or make a small fire in the backyard fire pit-just remember to use fire safety precautions. See the kettle corn recipe below for a quick and easy recipe that children will love to help you with.
"A fresh scent is one of the first things your guest will notice when they enter your home," says Lee. "Keeping your rooms odor-free will make your guests feel comfortable, and since so much of our sense of taste involves smell, it will only make their food and drinks taste that much better."
Visit www.youtube.com/febreze or check out Febreze's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/febreze for more of Lee's hosting tips.
Sandra Lee's Cinnamon Kettle Corn
2 packages (3 ounces each) microwave popcorn
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
First, simply prepare popcorn according to the package directions. Then, pour popcorn into one or two large bowls remembering to allow plenty of room in your bowls to toss popcorn with the hot sugar mixture. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter and then, add water and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Now stir in some cinnamon. Next, remove the mixture from the heat (be careful, it will be very hot). Pour half the mixture over your popcorn and carefully toss with wooden spoons. Add remaining sugar mixture and combine.
Courtesy of ARAcontent