i'm always a huge fan of crate and barrel's multicolor napkin sets, but these cotton napkins on a roll are worth a mention too. and given my whole tartan thing at ikea this year, it can't be a surprise that i'm drawn to their paper plaid napkins, or crate and barrel's cotton red and green holiday plaid ones either.
especially with the help of pier 1's tasting party collection, which includes mini tasting spoons, ramekins, martini glasses, cordial glasses, trifle bowls and more. even just looking at the spreads they've put together is inspiring, but with the individual pieces and the twelve-piece sets being so well-priced, it's a done deal, making whatever you put out look so impressive. put a little dip in the base of a mini-trifle bowl and stick some celery and carrot sticks in there, and people have their own portable dip situation. a few swedish meatbals in a ramekin with your sweet or savory sauce heaped on top, and it's balls to the wall...and the couch and the piano, and anywhere else your guests want to hang out.
if you're at a loss for what to serve, go with some tried and true favorites like nuts, mixed olives and fresh vegetables (go for all veggies in the same color for the sharpest presentation) and then pepper your selection with some special treats like these.
i always remember one of my favorite barefoot contessa episodes where she recommends buying three apps and making three for a cocktail party. she buys marcona almonds (well-priced at trader joe's, by the way), mixed olives and hothouse cucumber rounds topped with salami rounds. and then she makes ham and cheese in puff pastry, roasted shrimp cocktail with amped up cocktail sauce and blue cheese and walnut shortbread crackers. as ina always says, your friends don't have more fun if you slave in the kitchen to make everything.
check out more honey living posts on entertaining, and of course the honey gift files for everyone on your holiday lists.