Weekly family rail, with holiday tips, a look at “Tuesdays at the Castle” and more.
Tip of the Week
Ginny Bean, founder of Ginny's catalog and Ginnys.com, offers some simple tips on how to make entertaining more enjoyable for all involved.
- Make a plan: Take some time to really plan out the event. How many are coming? What's on the menu? How should the house look? Make a to-do list and set deadlines. Doing as much as possible in advance will make the day of the party that much easier. Better yet, delegate some of the work. "Enlist the help of your family," Bean advises. "Even preschoolers can help put away groceries, wash veggies or fold napkins. If a guest asks if she can bring something, let her. People love to feel useful, and it gives you one less thing to do."
- Gather your tools: Once the menu is set, review your tableware, serving dishes and cookware to make sure you have what you need. Borrow or purchase what you're missing. Among today's options is a growing array of cookware designed to go seamlessly and beautifully from oven or stovetop to even the most formal table, saving time, money and clean-up.
- Make the most of your space: The size of the meal may expand during the holidays, but cooking and serving space doesn't. A countertop toaster oven or high-wattage double burner can be a lifesaver for expanding oven and stovetop capacity. On the buffet table, tiered servers hold appetizers and desserts vertically, rather than horizontally, saving valuable space and creating an attractive display.
- Decorate for the senses: Involve all the senses in your decorating scheme. Enlist a spouse or older child to come up with a holiday music playlist or CD. Be sure to include instrumental pieces to play during dinner so it won't impede conversation. Fill the house with holiday scents, such as cinnamon, mulberry or evergreen. Scented candles are an easy and attractive way to provide fragrance and a warm glow to any room, and candlelight makes your guests look 10 years younger.
- Enjoy the results! Don't be so busy playing hostess that you forget to enjoy yourself. Bean recommends organizing the kitchen so that the bulk of the clean-up can be done later. Have storage containers handy for leftovers, designate an area in the kitchen for dirty dishes, and then forget about the rest.
Family Movie Night
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” now on DVD
Rated: PG-13 (for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images)
Length: 130 minutes
Synopsis: The final installment in the “Harry Potter” series comes to an end with an epic battle. Will Harry be able to defeat Voldemort?
Violence/scary rating: 4
Sexual-content rating: 2
Profanity rating: 2
Drugs/alcohol rating: 2
Family Time rating: 3. If your kids were able to handle other “Potter” films, they should be OK with this one – but be aware that there’s a lot of fighting and intense scenes in this film.
(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)
“Tuesdays at the Castle” by Jessica Day George
Synopsis: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one - other than Celie, that is - takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. - Bloomsbury USA
Did You Know
According to a study published in Pediatrics, children whose fathers are depressed are more likely than other children to have emotional problems.
GateHouse News Service