Christ­mas en­ter­tain­ing, sim­pli­fied

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - WEEKEND LIFE - Erin Sul­ley Erin Sul­ley is a self-con­fessed foodie who lives in Mount Pearl. Email er­in­m­sul­[email protected]­ter @ Erin­sul­ley In­sta­gram @erin­sul­ley

Yikes! It’s less than three weeks un­til Christ­mas. Time to tackle my Christ­mas bud­get and gro­cery list.

Wait. You do have a food bud­get, right? I feel I need an ear-pierc­ing, record-scratch­ing sound ef­fect to turn back the con­ver­sa­tion for a mo­ment.

The Christ­mas sea­son is filled with hol­i­day cheer. Per­haps a more re­al­is­tic pic­ture these days is the aw­ful com­mer­cial­ism. The hus­tle and bus­tle of buy­ing gifts, dec­o­rat­ing the tree and stock­ing the fridge full of food and drink, which in­cludes en­sur­ing you have enough food tucked away for en­ter­tain­ing and maybe a few un­ex­pected mum­mers. Heaven knows you need cheese, meat and crack­ers on standby. It re­ally does seem like an end­less list some­times, doesn’t it? Are you over­do­ing it? Are you buy­ing a bunch of ran­dom items?

The pres­sure of think­ing ev­ery­thing has to be pic­ture per­fect is ex­haust­ing. By the time you have the stock­ings hung, the tree tin­seled and the New­found­land hors d’oeu­vres tacked on tooth­picks, you’re out of en­ergy and money. How are you truly sup­posed to ring in a happy New Year know­ing you could be faced with debt and a whole new side of stress? Let’s gear our­selves down and work within our means. It’s not a bad thing — it’s smart to plan and or­ga­nize a Christ­mas food bud­get; you’ll thank your­self.

Ask your­self, how many events are you host­ing? How many elves will be there? What do you plan to serve? Once you have those ques­tions an­swered, start­ing plan­ning your menu.

You can choose to be su­per-so­phis­ti­cated like my brother and cre­ate a top-notch Ex­cel foodie bud­get spread­sheet. On the other hand, I’m more old school and prefer to break out the trusty pen­cil and pa­per. You might call me a tra­di­tiona(list). Sorry, last pun for the week — prom­ise!

Things to con­sider: shop from the cup­boards and freezer first. Re­mem­ber that big ap­pli­ance in the house that stores who knows what? It can be a won­der­ful trea­sure trove.

If you get stuck with a bunch of items and are un­sure of how to put them to­gether, head straight to the good ol’ trusty Google or Pin­ter­est and en­ter your in­gre­di­ents in the search bar.

Think of dishes you can stretch, like pota­toes, casse­role and pasta. Com­fort food that can be pre-pre­pared and frozen. Mac ‘n cheese is a casse­role that can be made us­ing left­over nobs of cheese. Add diced green and red pep­per or green pep­per and tomato for a fes­tive look. It’s great for veg­e­tar­i­ans, too.

In­stead of an abun­dance of dishes, go for larger dishes, but fewer items. The added perk? Less mess and cleanup. Hon­estly, is there any­one who en­joys the af­ter-din­ner cleanup? No hands raised — I hear crick­ets. My thoughts ex­actly. Once you have your menu, write down the ad­di­tional items you need to pur­chase.

“Stressed is just desserts spelt back­wards.” — Au­thor un­known

There’s noth­ing wrong with sim­plic­ity for dessert. Who doesn’t like a warm pie with ice cream? Ice cream is ex­tremely ver­sa­tile. Ideas? Let the ice cream soften and mix in Christ­mas sprin­kles, chopped candy or cho­co­late bars.

Make your own ice cream sand­wiches by putting ice cream be­tween soft cook­ies and rolling them in sprin­kles. And don’t for­get your wee elves. Ice cream snow­men are al­ways a hit, are sim­ple to as­sem­ble and can be pre­pared ahead of time and frozen.

A tip for serv­ing ice cream: pre-scoop your ice cream onto a lined cookie sheet and put in the freezer.

In most cases, when you’re host­ing gath­er­ings, peo­ple will ask if they can bring some­thing. “I can bring my fa­mous spinach and ar­ti­choke dip.” Per­fect, Deb­bie, just per­fect, my dear. Don’t be shy, take them up on their kind of­fer. Deb­bie will be de­lighted when peo­ple ask for her de­li­cious recipe.

Who says you can’t en­joy great food on a bud­get? Given the price of food these days, it’s a good place to start.

As a young girl, I asked my grandma if Santa was real. Her re­sponse: “I truly be­lieve in the spirit of Christ­mas” — words I have cher­ished through­out my life.

The spirit of Christ­mas is what you cre­ate, it’s the me­mories you make with fam­ily and friends over good food. What more could you ask for this Christ­mas? Foodie bud­get plan­ning makes for a hap­pier, stress-free din­ner that’s Fit to Eat.

“Bak­ers earn the ma­jor­ity of their in­come in the morn­ing. They earn most of their dough at yeast by a leaven o’clock.” — Au­thor un­known

PAUL PICK­ETT PHOTO

The au­thor, af­ter just as­sem­bling her ice cream snow­man. Prob­a­bly the fastest photo shoot ever — the race again melt­ing ice cream is al­ways a chal­lenge.

ERIN SUL­LEY PHOTO

Ice cream sand­wiches are al­ways a hit. Sprin­kles may be­come your best friend for jazz­ing up Christ­mas treats.

ERIN SUL­LEY PHOTO

Chopped Smar­ties rolled around ice cream — su­per easy, and like a home­made Bl­iz­zard — yum!

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