Let me start by saying I am not domestic, I do not entertain (other than my family), and I don’t love to cook, so listen to what I have to say. Ha!
I do, however, specialize in the simplest, most natural mode of accomplishing any task. I was like this before I had kids. Some things never change.
My in-laws consist of 13 adults and 13 kids, my husband is a firefighter, and I have three boys. That’s my primary audience. But, I also have had to bring treats or sides to work parties and other small gatherings. Since I’m not a domestic goddess, I try to focus on simple and easy recipes that take a lot to mess up but would be a hit for all ages.
So, below are ideas and recipes I’ve done throughout the years that have been fan favs. Have a few of these in your back pocket, and you’ll never be scrambling for something to bring!
Here’s the simple and easy holiday entertainment guide.
Oh em gee. I have taken this to a few parties, family get-togethers, and work functions. It was my go-to for a while. It has many different names and variations. You can make it your own, but this is the recipe I use.
- (8 ounces) cream cheese softened
- One red bell pepper, finely diced
- One jalapeno, finely diced (leave the seeds in for more kick)
- One small can black olives, chopped
- (15 ounces) can corn, drained
- One package ranch seasoning mix
Mix it all until it’s delicious. Refrigerate.
Number one hit with firefighters! I’d make these on a snowy day or day that you’re inside. They took me a while, but well worth it.
- One package of cream cheese
- One package (36 Oreos) mashed up
- One package of semi-sweet bakers chocolate or white chocolate
I used a food processor to pulse the Oreos, but don’t put too many in there at once, and then try to mash them down. So, I’ve heard anyway…
Mix the food processed Oreos (leave a little off to the side to sprinkle on the top) and cream cheese and roll into balls, FREEZE for 10 or so minutes and THEN dip into melted chocolate. Learned that the hard way. If you don’t freeze, it will fall apart in the chocolate.
A toothpick is good to use to dip unless it starts to fall apart and then not so much. Then a spoon will help complete the trick.
Cookie Recipe Using Cake Mix
The BEST COOKIES EVER! Easiest and best. Of all the things that are difficult for me to master, baking is at the top of the list. So, if there’s a recipe that takes minimal ingredients, and has the best results, I’m all in. Once again, made this for firefighters and my kids, and everyone loved them.
- 1 16.25 oz. box cake mix
- 1/3 cup oil
- Two eggs
- 3 tbsp. sprinkles
Mix all those ingredients, roll into balls, place on cookie sheet and bake. The full recipe is here. We frosted and decorated ours, but definitely, don’t need to. And, you can use any flavor of cake mix.
Don’t these look appealing? Haha!
If you’re having kids over for a birthday party or a family get together, this recipe is kid-approved. It’s torn up biscuits, pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni (or, whatever topping you like) thrown into the oven. I’ve made it for a weeknight meal, as well. Pretty tasty. Make sure you cook long enough though or it will get soggy.
- One can of biscuits
- Mozzarella cheese
- Pepperoni or whatever toppings you’d like
- Parmesan and oregano (optional)
Cut up biscuits, add toppings, then sauce, bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Take out add cheese, bake for an additional five minutes or so. Full directions here.
Kids Entertainment as a Host
Goodie bags for kids
I did this for my youngest son’s birthday party and older and younger kids alike approved. I honestly think it’s the element of surprise from what’s in the sack. You do not need a million dollars or a million hours. I like to exaggerate sometimes. But, this works for holiday get-togethers, as well.
These elements are what I used for the goodie bags:
- White lunch sack
- Glow necklaces or sticks or whatever that glows
- Candy or fruit snacks
- Random toys bag
You could also add:
- Bouncy balls
- Little notebooks
Whatever your heart desires really, but the point is to make it universal for all ages and gender. Don’t make it hard on yourself, when you know it’ll all end up in the trash or lost within the day anyway. I gave the goodie bag to the kiddos when they arrived, so they had something to do and play with while at my house instead of when they left. However, knowing that, I made it as mess-free as possible. Ain’t nobody got time to clean up after kids at a kids birthday party. Ha!
Have a TV with an age-appropriate movie playing. The end. Kidding, kind of. Make it a fun space. Lots of blankets, pillows, or beanbag chairs, if you got them. Packaged mess-free snacks. Pretzels, popcorn (although I know that can get everywhere. Easy to clean up, though), Goldfish, you know the likes. Turn the lights off or low and tell the kids they’re at the movies. It’s a fun, cheap and most importantly, time-intensive way to entertain kids of many ages.
Best big purchase we’ve made to date. We’ve had ours going on three years, and we use it in the basement in the winter, outside when it’s nice, and have even brought for others to use! At the very least it keeps the little ones entertained, and they need the most entertainment. Poor picture quality below, but had to show it to you! This is the exact bounce house we have.
- Stencils and paper to write their name on. Kids love writing or making things involving their name.
- Holiday coloring books they can take home
- Activity books for older kids
- Washable Crayons. Unless you have older kids coming, I’d stick to crayons. Markers, even though they are washable, tend to end up everywhere. Shirts, hands, mouths, table–you name it.
- Glitter (gotcha!)
Hostess, friend or spouse gift ideas
These have been some of my favorite gifts I’ve received from my husband, friends, and family–and thus have given to others:
- Electronic wine opener
- Stemless wine glasses
- Wine Aerator (have this one. Works amazing and is a great price!)
- Mac lip gloss
- Lancome lip gloss
- Robe (Barefoot Dreams is the brand I have. Worth the money. I’ve had mine for 10 years and still soft as ever!)
- Whiskey ice balls (my husband’s favorite gift I’ve ever given him. And, one of the cheapest.)
- Tea sampler kit
- Yeti coffee tumbler with a gift card inside
- Beer of the month club
- Any gift basket of candy, chocolate, coffee or health foods (I am a sucker for those! Hint, hint!)
Kids gift ideas
And, of course, if you need ideas for kiddos, boy do we have you covered!
- Kids games and toys I bought and what’s on my wishlist from Target
- Gift guide for babies to teens
- Ages 0-3 gift ideas
- Ages 3-6 gift ideas
What’s on your list for a simple and easy holiday gift guide? Let us know!