Do-it-Yourself Entertaining for the Holidays

Do-it-Yourself Entertaining for the Holidays
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Holiday catering is expensive, whether you pay someone to serve and do it all, or you buy platters and bring them home.  Making your own platters is easy, and will save you money that can be used for gifts or family activities.

To start, you'll need to figure out the amount of food needed to serve those you have invited to your event. This guide will give you an idea of what you will need.

Appetizers: 4-5 appetizers per hour per person.
Cheese: Include in appetizer count above
Fruits or Vegetables: 1/2 cup per person
Meat, Poultry or Seafood: 4 ounces per person
Side Dishes: 1/2 cup serving per person
Salad: 1 to 1 1/2 cups per person
Dips/Dressing/Sauces: 2-3 tablespoons

To give you an idea of how much money you can save I did a little research on prices. Obviously these will vary according to store and location, but it will give you an estimate to compare.

Deviled Egg Platter serving 8-12: $20.00
Pumpernickel Round with Dip 8-12: $18.00
Cheese cubes & Deli Meat 8-12: $28.00
Assorted Deli Turkey & Sauce 8-12: $40.00
Assorted Pinwheel Rolls 8-12: $40.00

This gives you an idea of how expensive it is to buy pre-made platters. Now, let's figure out how to make our own for a fraction of the cost.

Most of the platters don't involve cooking, only preparation.  Cube or slice your cheese, roll your deli meat, and arrange neatly on platters. Combine fruit and cheese together on one platter. Neatly cut vegetables with a dip in the middle for another.  Relish trays are also very popular.  Combine sweet gherkin pickles, dill pickle spears or slices, olives, banana peppers and peperoncini on a platter.

Holiday platters can be purchased at your local dollar store or other inexpensive outlet such as Walmart or Kmart. Another place to buy larger platters are a restaurant supply store.  Here in the Midwest United States we have Gordon Food Service, which has a good selection of plastic platters and other items for entertaining.

Basic Deviled Eggs

1 dozen eggs: boiled, shelled, and cut in half
1 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon salad dressing or mayonnaise

Ground Black or White Pepper
Cayenne Pepper

Boil the eggs for 15 minutes after the water has just started to roll/simmer.  Run the eggs, still in the pan, under cold water for 5 minutes or so. Leave the cold water in the pan, and add 6/7 ice cubes to cool the eggs off quickly.  When cool, crack the eggs, and peel off the shells.

Cut the eggs carefully in half lengthwise. Gently, pop out or use a fork to remove the yolk from the egg white. Place these in a bowl, and mash with a fork. Add the dressing and mustard, then mix again. You can use a mix if you wish to mix it to a smooth consistency.  Season with a bit of salt and any of the optional spices you wish to try.

At this point you can use a spoon to gently fill the hole in each egg half, or place the egg yolk mixture into a pastry bag and fill the egg whites.

Snipped chives
Sprinkle of paprika
Two-three capers
tiny sprig dill or thyme

Place on a platter in a circular pattern, ending with one egg in the middle, or a pretty addition of a few nasturtiums, fresh sage leaves or a large sprig of fresh dill.

Pumpernickel Round with Dip

1 pound round loaf of Pumpernickel bread
1-2 cups dip (below)

Carefully scoop out the inside of the loaf, leaving about an inch of crust/bread for the outer layer. You want it to be thick enough to hold the dip within the hollowed out loaf.  Fill with any of the dips below or your own favorite recipe.  The bread you scooped out can be but into squares and lightly toasted in the oven on a cookie sheet, then cooled and served with the dip. You can also surround the platter with crackers as well.

Savory Cheese Dip

1/4 cup milk
8 ounces small curd cottage cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, Roquefort or Feta cheese
1 minced clove of garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Use an electric mixer or food processor to combine the cottage cheese and milk until smooth. Add the blue cheese, cream cheese, garlic, spices and Worcestershire sauce.  Blend again until smooth. Scrape into a covered container until serving time, then transfer to the bread bowl. Makes 2 cups.

Green Goddess Dip

2 soft ripe avocados
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced green onions or chives
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. ground black or white pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Mash the avocados well, and add the sour cream, mayonnaise and lemon. Blend and add the remaining ingredients. Chill at least one hour and scoop into the bread bowl. Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.

Basic Ham Roll-Ups

10 slices boiled ham (the packaged rectangle size slices)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
10 green onions, both ends trimmed off

Pat the ham dry with paper towel. Lay a piece of ham flat, and spread with a layer of cream cheese.  Place an onion on one end of the ham piece and roll up tightly. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and chill. When ready to serve, unwrap and carefully cut the ham rolls into one inch pieces. Place these pieces on a platter to serve.

Options: You can use any type of ham, chicken or turkey as long as it's in the rectangle slices.  Try using a flavored cream cheese, or sprinkling the cream cheese layer with seasonings such as cayenne pepper, garlic powder, Adobo seasoning, herb salt. You could also mix a small amount of horseradish dressing into the cream cheese.

Pinwheel Appetizers

1 cup ranch dressing, any variety
5 flour tortillas, soft burrito size
10 slices Swiss cheese
1 pound deli ham or turkey, thinly sliced

Spread  about a 1/4 cup dressing over each tortilla. Top the tortilla with 2 slices of cheese. Divide the ham or turkey among each tortillas, laying the pieces flat.  Roll the tortillas up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut into 1-inch slices and arrange on a platter.

Options: Use your imagination and vary the dressing, the cheese and the meat.

Visit our Kitchen section for more old fashioned recipes


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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