Lifestyle and entertaining expert Lisa McElroy joined me this week to discuss her favorite tips for decorating and entertaining this holiday season, and simple tips for getting your kids involved! If you’ve always wanted to create a fabulous mashed potato station or make the most of your holiday traditions or entertain with ease, you’re in luck as Lisa has you covered just in time for the holidays!
Candace Rose: With the holidays officially upon us, do you have any suggestions for throwing a great party this season?
Lisa McElroy: “I absolutely do, and the thing to remember is you do not have to spend a lot of money, you don’t have to stay up crazy hours every night before your party. What you’re going to do is you’re going to take ordinary things add a couple of extra ingredients. Jazz them up a little bit and make them something special. But keep it easy, keep it simple.”
Candace Rose: And you mentioned meal planning. Do you have any menu ideas everyone will love?
Lisa McElroy: “Yeah, absolutely. For example everybody loves to have a festive beverage, and you might want to think of a fun coffee drink, especially if people are coming in from the cold and coming in from outside. But instead of just serving ordinary coffee, maybe you want to make a special latte. Here I have a cinnamon latte, and you wouldn’t believe how easy this is. You just need some hot milk and some cinnamon syrup. The key to this beverage is you want to use really good coffee. I really like Millstone coffee, they use exceptional beans and you can actually go on their website and trace where the beans come from all the way to your holiday party. So use that good coffee, put a little caramel sauce on top and suddenly just a warm thing coming from the cold, everybody is festive, everybody is in the spirit and it’s so easy and it’s not expensive.”
Candace Rose: It sounds delicious!
Lisa McElroy: “If you want to decorate for your party I have another tip for you and that is to get the whole family involved. So maybe I’m starting to do the green beans or starting to do the party for a dish, and I want to get the kids involved so I’m going to get all of my decorations, but go to the dollar store, keep it really simple and inexpensive. But I want to get a bunch of different decorative items in one color scheme, so here you can see I have some red glass ornaments, I’ve got some red sparkly boxes. I’ve also got some of the holiday cards that my family received, so I say ‘Kids, mom is working on the gravy and I want you go to around the house and put these things all around and make it look pretty’. Now the kids can easily do that and it is going to look pretty because it’s all in one color, it wasn’t expensive but it keeps them from out under my feet and it keeps them in the spirit too, so I’ve killed two birds with one stone.”
Candace Rose: And entertaining can be very stressful. How can we actually relax at our own party?
Lisa McElroy: “Well, what I like to do is I like to have some make it yourself dishes. So for example, I don’t want to peel a lot of potatoes for mashed potatoes, so I’m going to keep it easy for me, I’m going to go to the grocery store refrigerator section. I could get some Bob Evans potatoes- they make them in regular and sweet potatoes and then I’m going to relax at my own party by making a mashed potato station, and I’m going to set out some pretty martini glasses and tell people to come up with their own mashed potato creation, I call it a ‘mashtini’, and you can have some candied nuts, some mini marshmallows, or for more savory option you could some roast beef and some caramelized onions, and then they can put it all in a glass, walk around with it. I haven’t had to do a thing and if they want to they can make their own invention or they can go on the website which is Mashed.BobEvans.com and they’ve got about 10 different Mashtini recipes.”
Candace Rose: How about the dreaded cleanup?
Lisa McElroy: “Well, the cleanup is never the fun part, so if you promise you won’t tell my mom, here’s what I’m going to tell you- and that is celebrate until the end of the day. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends….the dishes will still be there in the morning.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Lisa McElroy: “Well, the only other tip I have is have one holiday tradition that when your friends come over or your family comes over they know you always do one thing- maybe it’s your elf on the shelf, maybe it’s a carol your family always things; it can be corny, it can be ridiculous, but it’s something really fun that people will look forward to and people will remember year after year. Again, just keep it simple, don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money; it’s really about the spirit of the season, and it’s not about going all out and trying to impress your neighbors.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Lisa McElroy: “Well, if you’d like to find out some great latte recipes that are really easy go to Millstone.com. And if you’re interested in making some Mashtini, they have a recipe collection at Mashed.BobEvans.com.”