No-Fuss Holiday Entertaining: Food & Décor

Hosts with the most Steve Sirls and Allen DeCuyper have been entertaining guests for 30 years, and their home, affectionately referred to as The Craighead House, has been the site of everything from intimate dinner parties for eight to massive charity benefits for 500. The dashing duo shares six tricks they’ve picked up along the way to guarantee a stress-free shindig:

1. Know your guests. Mix the cocktails, buy the wines and prepare the foods that your company loves! It will instantly make them feel at home and will leave a lasting impression that lingers far after the night is over.

2. Set the mood. The right lighting, a cozy fire, some nice background music and an uncluttered space go a long way in creating a festive mood and a relaxing environment.

3. Use what you have. Whether it’s greenery from your own garden or glasses from your collection of stemware, drawing from your own supply is a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to make an event more personal and special.

4. Be prepared. Keep linens pressed, silver polished and glassware stored for easy access so that you can entertain at a moment’s notice. Avoid last-minute stress by prepping appetizers and side dishes ahead of time, whenever possible.

5. Divide and conquer. Divvy up tasks between you and your co-hosts to play on your strengths. Allen handles food and beverages while Steve tackles the flowers, décor and logistics. Know your strengths and work on the things that come most naturally to you.

6. Call in backup. Hire a professional to serve drinks or pass hors d’œuvres, especially for crowds larger than 20, to allow you the opportunity to enjoy yourself and mingle with your guests. And as an added bonus, you’ll actually save some cash. As Allen says, “We learned a long time ago that you’ll save

a lot on alcohol if you hire

a bartender.”