(ARA) - Entertaining experts agree that you can boost the festive feel of your holiday gatherings with a few indulgent touches. The indulgences can also help relieve -- for a while -- the normal stress you and your guests may feel at holiday time.
Here are some simple ways to add touches of indulgence to your holiday entertaining:
Food in Fashion
The holidays really are the time for indulgent, special occasion foods, from caviar to chocolate truffles. While serving up pounds of Beluga caviar may not be in the budget, you can create an indulgent effect by incorporating caviar into your hors d'oeuvres. Look for recipes that call for a finishing dollop of caviar; this will give guests the sight and flavor of the delicacy, and create an aura of indulgence.
Buying pre-boxed individual servings of truffles can be costly. But if you purchase a large box, and place one or two truffles each in a piece of holiday patterned cellophane, tied with a seasonally colored ribbon, you can achieve the same luxurious effect for a lot less money.
And of course, you'll want to take care of your more health-minded guests. Rather than serve simple crudite and dip, why not experiment with some simple vegetable carvings. Guests who enjoy radishes will find them more festive if they are carved in a rose shape. You can also serve carved fruit, as well.
Fizz is Fun
"Wine adds sophistication and taste to virtually any gathering," says David Frakes, executive chef of Beringer Vineyards. "But sparkling wine adds fun as well."
Champagne, of course, is best known, but there are many types of sparkling wine. Choose a varietal that is widely enjoyed, like zinfandel. Beringer's Sparkling White Zinfandel is a great choice because it's easily available, affordable, pairs well with a wide range of foods, and pleases both discerning and simple palates.
"Many holiday dishes are very rich and robust in flavor," Frakes notes. "Sparkling White Zinfandel pairs well with holiday dishes because of its refreshing texture and bright fruit flavors."
Don't Forget D cor
Your tabletop makes a statement about your holiday celebration. For sophisticated evening events, dim the lights and use tea lights and small white bags -- the kind in which you might buy a single serving of candy -- to create individual luminaries at each place setting.
With winter snow piling up outside, what could be more festive and indulgent than living centerpieces? Go traditional with live ivy or holly branches arranged around a basket of colorful tree ornaments. Or go outlandish with a bowl of colorful goldfish that can also be sent home with some lucky guests as a door prize. Courtesy of ARA Content