EZ Entertaining: 5 Party-Planning Pointers

Festive gatherings can create some of the fondest memories – unless you’re the host. Here, decor and entertaining ideas that will wow guests and dial down the stress.

‘Tis the season for friends, family and co-workers to share good food and laughter while listening to cheerful music and admiring twinkling lights. Festive gatherings can create some of the fondest memories – unless you’re the host. If that’s the case, anxiety and exhaustion might turn your jolly grin into a scrooge-like scowl. But it doesn’t need to be that way. A few simple tips can help you throw a memorable party and enjoy it, too!

We spoke to Oliver & Bonacini’s Director of Sales and Events, Deborah Gee, for a few decor and entertaining ideas that will wow guests and take the pressure off hosts.

Use Your Surroundings
Do not be afraid to think outside the box. Gee suggests going as far as using a mirror on the table and placing your food on top. If you’re in a small space, think nontraditional. Gee uses Breakfast at Tiffany’s as her example: Holly Golightly threw a fabulous party in her tiny apartment using her book shelves to hold finger foods – why can’t you?

Go for Gold
If you like to stick with the trends, gold is in this season. “Gold cutlery is my favourite trend. Coolest thing I’ve seen around,” says Gee. Try finishing off your place settings with gold charger plates and making them really shine by adding tea lights to your table. If you’re not a big fan of gold, Gee suggests using wood elements like “birch bark” or “little miniature natural christmas trees.”


When Guests Arrive
Sure, you’ve pulled out all the stops to impress your guests but they want to see you more than your gold centre pieces. If you know you’ll be prepping food in the kitchen when guests begin to arrive, set up a station in the kitchen with finger food for them to nibble on while you cook. “Have some crudités and cheese; have some spicy popcorn. Just some little finger foods so that if you are running behind the main event of the foods, you at least have something out that people can start eating,” says Gee.

If a recipe didn’t turn out the way you planned or you are much further behind than anticipated, do not be afraid (or too prideful) to order-in, says Gee. “Call up your local Chinese restaurant and order a bunch of spring rolls or get them to send over a bunch of dim sum or maybe a party pizza that you slice up into cool, cute little appetizers.”

Catering to Everyone
Feeding a group of people has never been so complicated with gluten and lactose intolerances becoming more and more common. Let your gluten-free guests inspire your culinary creativity. Kale chips are a win for everyone! Gee also suggests including more vegetables and hummus. If you’re stumped, “Go see a butcher or local cheese shop and grab some olives and some feta-stuffed olives or some nice marcona almonds. You can do a nice charcuterie tray,” she adds.


Even ice cubes can become festive and fabulous when infused with pomegranate seeds. Gee suggests setting up a drink station and allowing guests to help themselves. When it comes to garnish – don’t hold back! “Garnish ceasars with bacon, pepperoni sticks, pickled onions or olives.”