InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round

I have a book to share and giveaway just in time for the holiday season: *InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round (Oxmoor House, October 2017)

InStyle Parties is the must-have resource for anyone looking to host chic parties without stress or guesswork. Packed with everything you need to throw an affair to remember, InStyle Parties offers expert ideas for hosting 15 unique celebrations, from dinners, game-day gatherings, and holiday festivities to boozy brunches, Oscar parties, and summertime soirees.

For each party, you’ll get a customized menu of recipes (including a signature cocktail), invitation inspiration, tabletop ideas, suggestions for take-home gifts or group activities, and a detailed timeline for seamless party preparation.

The editors of InStyle share their best hostess tips, including how to pair wines and create the perfect cheese plate. You’ll also find a list of more than 100 trusted resources for all your entertaining needs.

There is plenty of party and entertaining inspiration to be found in this book! I want to have a Mother’s Day Tea, throw a Woodland Baby Shower and pack a 4th of July Picnic!

A recipe for Mulled Cranberry Wine Punch sounded perfect to kick off the holiday season and to mix up to enjoy over Thanksgiving weekend with family!

I adapted the recipe to put my slow cooker to work for easy holiday entertaining! This recipe is a keeper and ideal for Making Spirits Bright this Christmas season and to enjoy through the winter months!


Slow Cooker Cranberry Mulled Wine, adapted from InStyle Parties

Makes 12 – 14 servings


1 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries

48 oz. (6 cups) cranberry juice cocktail

1 orange, sliced

4 to 6 cinnamon sticks

3 – 5 star anise

2 bottles (750 ml) fruity, dry red wine such as Gamay Beaujolais

1/2 cup honey, or more to taste

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup orange-flavor liqueur or brandy (optional)

Rinse berries and place in a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker; add wine, cranberry juice and honey and stir to combine. Add orange slices, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Turn slow cooker on high; cover with lid and allow flavors to meld, about 30 – 40 minutes, until warm.

After 30 minutes, turn slow cooker to the ‘keep warm’ setting. Add almond extract and stir in orange liqueur/brandy if desired. Cover with lid and allow to mixture steep on warm setting for 30 minutes, then ladle into cups or stemmed glasses. Serve with a fresh orange slice and cinnamon stick.

This is oh so good and dangerously easy to drink! The almond extract was a surprising addition and adds wonderful, warm note.


~Steeping wine brings out the tannic, sour flavors in all wines, so sweeten to taste. Taste after first 30 minutes and add more honey if needed.

~Use a fruity, dry red wine of your choice. Beaujolais is perfect for this, but substitute a different varietal if you prefer as long as it isn’t overly oaked (naturally more tannic) to avoid a bitter flavor after steeping.

~Don’t overheat your wine, bring to a simmer, but not a boil.

~Substitute apple cider for the wine for a nonalchoholic beverage.


For a chance to win a copy of InStyle Parties, leave a comment sharing a favorite party recipe or entertaining tip!

This giveaway is open to those living in the continental U.S.

A winner will be chosen November 25th.


*Thank you to Time Inc. Books for providing a copy of InStyle Parties. 

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

Slow Cooker Cranberry Mulled Wine

Put your slow cooker to work for making spirits bright this holiday season and to enjoy through the winter months. Oh so good and dangerously easy to drink! The almond extract is a surprising addition and adds wonderful, warm note to the mulled wine.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Christmas, cocktail, cranberry, crock pot, easy, holiday entertaining, mulled wine, slow cooker
Servings: 12


  • 5 or 6-quart slow cooker


  • 1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 48 oz. 6 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 orange sliced
  • 4 to 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 - 5 star anise
  • 2 bottles 750 ml fruity, dry red wine such as Gamay Beaujolais
  • 1/2 cup honey or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup orange-flavor liqueur or brandy optional


  • Rinse berries and place in a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker; add wine, cranberry juice and honey; stir to combine.
  • Add orange slices, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Turn slow cooker on high; cover with lid and allow flavors to meld, about 30 - 40 minutes, until warm.
  • After 30 minutes, turn slow cooker to 'keep warm' setting. Add almond extract and stir in orange liqueur/brandy if desired.
  • Cover with lid and allow to mixture steep on warm setting for 30 minutes, then ladle into cups or stemmed glasses. Serve with a fresh orange slice and cinnamon stick.


  • The almond extract sounds like a strange addition, but it adds an unexpected and wonderful, warm note.
  • Steeping wine naturally brings out the tannic, sour flavors, so add your honey and sweeten to taste. Taste after first 30 minutes and add more if needed.
  • If you substitute a different variety of red wine, don't use an overly oaked wine which has more tannins to avoid tasting bitter.
  • Don't overheat the wine, bring to a simmer, not a boil.
  • Substitute apple cider for the wine for a nonalchoholic beverage.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Mulled Wine | © #slowcooker #CrockPot #recipe #cocktail

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Slow Cooker Cranberry Mulled Wine | © #slowcooker #CrockPot #recipe #cocktail

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  94 comments for “InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round

  1. Susie
    November 17, 2017 at 6:48 am

    The wine is going in the slow cooker tonight! I have a small dinner party and mulled wine sounds like just the ticket for a cold evening.
    My one party tip doesn’t involve food. I learned very quickly to only use full centerpieces and arrangements if you have a buffet table–otherwise your guests will need a machete to see those on the opposite side of the dinner table! For centerpieces I always use low flower arrangements with candles that are votives or in crystal candlesticks.
    Thanks, Mary, for another wonderful post and so many great ideas!!

    • Kathryn Larson
      November 17, 2017 at 8:29 am

      I would love this book! I love entertaining and do it frequently. When I have a larger group, I try to have some make ahead recipes and prep as far ahead as I can. I also make a list of things I need to complete, which helps my aging brain not forget anything. As far as a favorite recipe, this one is great…..always a hit. Deviled Eggs with Bourbon Bacon Jam, by authentic suburban gourmet. Check out her blog.

  2. November 17, 2017 at 6:53 am

    My favorite party recipe at Christmas is an oldie but goodie that you make in the Crock Pot, Cranberry Meatballs made with cranberry and chili sauce. You can use ready-made frozen meatballs which makes it even easier! Thanks for the chance to win, this looks like a beautiful book!

  3. November 17, 2017 at 7:04 am

    I always keep frozen puff pastry in my freezer. It’s great to have on hand for wrapping a wheel of brie or making palmiers with all sorts of fillings. Looks like a great book, thanks for sharing!

  4. Robyn
    November 17, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I like to serve cream cheese with homemade tomato jam and crackers! Perfect sweet and savory and oh so easy!!! I make tomato jam every summer and enjoy it all year long! Thanks for the giveaway! The book looks like it is packed with beautiful pics and wonderful ideas!!!

  5. November 17, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I can hardly wait to try your Cranberry Mulled Wine, perfect for Thanksgiving weekend and surviving my in-laws’ visit :) Years ago when we had our annual Christmas Open House, we used the laundry sink off the kitchen to fill with ice for chilling extra bottles of wine and beverages.The counter in the laundry room held the extra glasses, napkins, bottle openers, etc and it worked perfectly to keep the kitchen from becoming so congested. Your blog is one of my favorites!

  6. Sue
    November 17, 2017 at 6:23 am

    The mulled wine sounds delicious!! Can’t wait to try it. I made pomegranate-champagne drinks last year for a Christmas party. Rim a glass with red sugar, add equal parts of champagne and pomegranate juice. They were a huge success. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.xoxo

  7. November 17, 2017 at 6:31 am

    My tip is for making the house smell good or like Christmas if we’re having company or friends over for cocktails. I like to make a simmer pot of potpourri with apple peels, orange slices/rind, clove, cinnamon sticks and water. Turn the burner on low and let it simmer away. You can keep adding water to it. Gets you in the Christmas spirit too! Thanks for all your inspiring ideas!

  8. November 17, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I always love your posts and pictures. Your creativity is inspiring and amusing. Me sister and I wonder where and how you store all your dishes, etc. My tip: Prepare and set your dining table at least a week in advance. This way you know what you need to add or take away and can build your own anticipation for the event. I would love to send you my self-published book, How To Host a Delightful Tea”. I hosted Teas for 24-32 annually and believe you will enjoy my book. If you send me your address, I’ll mail you one. Thanks so much for your beautiful posts, recipes and tips!

    • November 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      I love tea parties as a way of entertaining, especially showers and birthday parties. I will look for your book.

      My helpful hint is to put together an egg casserole the night before and bake it the next morning. That way guests have a healthy breakfast and are out of the cooks way.

    • Porti
      November 18, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Probably not very helpful but this year the second Thanksgiving dinner of the season is going to be catered. I’m cooking for the first one at my Mom’s.
      I just read a hint by Yvonne at Stonegable to use labeled dish pans to collect all the dining utensils at the end of the meal and stack in another room until you are ready to wash. An ingenious way for guests to help if they volunteer! I’m doing it this year! . Check it out!

      BTW I would love to host a tea for my Mom and her friends! She’s just had her 96 th BD and still going strong!

  9. emily
    November 17, 2017 at 6:32 am

    The mulled Wine will be the drink of choice for my Christmas celebration! Sounds wonderful and so easy. The type of recipe I love. I make ahead “flying saucers” when I’m having overnight guests for the holidays or parties…It is simply browned breakfast sausage cooked and drained with velvetta cheese melted into the cheese and spread on half of an English muffin. Freeze on a cookie sheet and then stacked in the plastic bag of the English muffins..Store in freezer and taken out as needed and baked at 350 degrees until warmed through! Thanks for sharing this book, the plans and recipes look wonderful!

  10. November 17, 2017 at 6:43 am

    I borrowed your wonderful and festive tortellini wreath idea to serve with jarred marinara sauce for our Christmas party last year! Couldn’t be easier and everyone loved it! Keep your great ideas coming!

  11. Carol Burger
    November 17, 2017 at 6:51 am

    The Cranberry Mulled Wine will be served at my home for the holidays. Not only does it sound delicious but it also will smell wonderful. No air fresheners needed!

  12. November 17, 2017 at 6:54 am

    What perfect timing! Beaujolais Nouveau release day was yesterday and we always buy a case for our Thanksgiving feast. I’ll have to set aside some bottles for this delicious recipe! Thanks for your great ideas. Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Karen
    November 17, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Thanks for sharing a lovely recipe. Being the only ‘female’ born in my generation had its perks. As my older relatives passed on, I was offered dishes, silverware and various entertaining serveware. I couldn’t possibly store that much stuff so I only took special items that reminded me of that person. Today, when the family gathers at my home for a holiday celebration, I put out at least 2 different items on the buffet table and wait for someone to notice and comment: “Oh that was Mom’s or Aunt Rhoda’s or my grandma’s.” I always encourage that person to share a favorite memory re that piece so it feels like my relatives are again joining us for the holiday.

    • Beth
      November 17, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      What a lovely idea. Recently we have lost most of the older generation that gathered for the Holidays. I have some of their treasures and plan on using them to keep the memories alive!

  14. November 17, 2017 at 7:13 am

    One of my favorite holiday decorating tips is to fill vases with cranberries and water and add floating candles. So easy and festive. Looks like a gorgeous book full of inspiration, thanks for sharing!

  15. Sara
    November 17, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Hi Mary. When we have guests — house guests, dinner guests, party guests, I plan my menus and pull all the recipes. I use them to make my grocery list, then put them in a plastic folder. Before the occasion, I make out a time table and add to the folder. My laundry room is right off the kitchen so I use it as a butler’s pantry, adding a piece of plywood over the washer and dryer if I need extra space. The folder is there along with coffee cups, dessert dishes, extra cracker boxes, chip bags whatever I will need but don’t want cluttering up the kitchen. This method has served me well for many years of military and corporate parties, now just entertaining family and friends. Now I have your wonderful tablescapes and recipes for inspiration. I wish I had them years ago. Thanks.

    • Vicky
      November 17, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Thank you for the idea of letting my laundry room double as a butler’s pantry. Consider it done!

    • Barbara Hurley
      November 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I use my laundry room like a butler’s pantry for parties too. Also have a cooler full of ice in the deep sink. One tip I read years ago for a Christmas party was to have “It’s a wonderful Life” playing on the tv with the mute on. Everyone knows what is being said anyway, and people point out special parts as the evening goes along. I set my table a day in advance and mark what is to go in each serving bowl. I would love to win the entertaining book.

  16. Sherlie Magaret
    November 17, 2017 at 7:23 am

    My tip is to make bite size desserts like pecan tassies or lemon curd tassies so friends can get a bite of dessert without eating a whole piece of something.

  17. Linda S Sink
    November 17, 2017 at 7:28 am

    You always make my morning brighter.I am hosting an afternoon ladies party and can’t wait to try this drink. Greetings from Maine🌲.

  18. November 17, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I love making puff pastry appetizers ahead of time and freezing them….They come in handy when you may have an unexpected guest(s) … just take out of the freezer, slice and serve! Especially during the Holidays, I keep a bottle of Bailey’s Chocolate Cherry liqueur on hand….a great and simple coffee dessert! Love the book!!! … pinned away, as always!

  19. November 17, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Hi Mary, I keep bricks of cream cheese in the fridge and red pepper jelly in the pantry. It’s not fancy but everyone loves it and it’s quick to pull out and put together at the last minute. So enjoy your blog!

  20. Lori S
    November 17, 2017 at 7:57 am

    i think this mulled wine would go well with my favorite easy appetizer- Goat cheese rolled in fresh cracked pepper with a drizzle of honey. My favorite meal for entertaining is Beef Wellington from an old Southern Living recipe. You can’t go wrong with tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry

  21. November 17, 2017 at 7:58 am

    The weather is perfect for cranberry mulled wine! I think I’ll make a small sample batch this weekend and see if we want it with or without the brandy. My favorite holiday recipe is the adorable Christmas tree cheese board you shared last year. Everyone loved it! I couldn’t find those cute star crackers so I made a star using a cookie cutter and yellow bell pepper instead.

  22. franki
    November 17, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Even “this early” in the morning…that mulled wine sounds divine!! You know, you really can’t go wrong with Boursin cheese…we get it in a 3 pck…crackers, add it to mashed potatoes and make potato puffs, add it to any cream soup to absolutely knock your socks off…it’s my “go-to!!” franki

  23. Vicky
    November 17, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Wow, what a wonderful book . . . and just in time for Christmas giving! One of my favorite “go to” things for a party is a simple fruit and cheese platter. I also love to put out crackers, a block of cream cheese and put either pepper jelly or muscadine sauce on top

  24. November 17, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Beautiful book Mary! Sounds like some unique themes, the Woodland baby shower looks adorable! One thing I’ve learned from throwing many parties and gatherings is that people will choose the appetizer that is easiest to eat, in other words anything that is ready to be picked up, finger food, rather than something that has to be assembled, like spreading cheese on crackers. Sounds silly, but it is so true! I try to serve things that my guests don’t have to work too hard for, so they don’t have to stop talking or put down their drink or plate. Your mulled wine sounds delicious and a fun idea for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Almond extract makes everything better!

  25. Brenda
    November 17, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Love everyone’s tips! The book is beautiful and thanks for sharing. My fall holiday tip is to mix white grape juice with Sprite or 7-Up, put it in a glass pitcher and then add slices of different colored apples, different colored grapes, and orange slices for beautiful fall color medley.

  26. Sherry Darlington
    November 17, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Don’t wait for that special holiday to break out the “fancy” stemware & china.
    My grandchildren feel special when I put their milk in a crystal wineglass & snack on pretty plates. After all….they really are special to me!

  27. Cyndi Raines
    November 17, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Would love to dive into this book to read all the entertainment tips and recipes. My winter holiday tip is pretty basic and that is to be sure and dial back on the temperature as typically the oven will have been on /is on, crock pots going and fireplace crackling, with guests coming in their holiday sweaters. While I like things warm / comfortable, I don’t want to get over-heated especially since my girlfriends and I are still getting those wonderful (Not) hot flashes! lol. HAPPY THANSGIVING TO YOU Mary, for being such a blessing to all of us who take so much delight in your wonderful post!

  28. November 17, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Oh that Mother’s Day Tea looks divine! Thanks for the chance to win a copy. As far as entertaining tips, I like to put out a dessert coffee bar next to the Keurig with assorted K-cups. Everyone can serve themselves and add Bailey’s, Amaretto, whipped cream, chocolate shavings and cinnamon, along with assorted flavors of Pirouette Rolled Wafers. It’s always a hit and you can offer decaf and regular flavors of K-cups.

  29. November 17, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Last fall I went to a gathering and my friend used her laundry room for her beverage station. I was very inspired. I was at Publix yesterday and they were serving samples of their Cajun clam dip. It was delicious. I think a beautiful fruit tray is always good to serve. Beef tenderloin with a horseradish sauce is always a hit for me. When things get too hectic, I like to rely on Publix and Whole Foods for help!

  30. Donna Colver
    November 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for a chance to win this book. One of my favorite recipes is a Frozen Cranberry Salad. It tastes more like a dessert and is always a crowd pleaser!

  31. Cyndi Raines
    November 17, 2017 at 9:03 am

    P.s. I agree with Jenna’s comment above, finger foods are the best. I LOVE the cream cheese and green onion ham roll-ups!😊

  32. Beth
    November 17, 2017 at 9:17 am

    My tip would be to keep it as stress-free as possible during the holidays. Refer to easy and inexpensive appetizers and desserts that you make often, plan, shop, and cook ahead of time, and enjoy your friends and family! Your blog is very inspirational and fun. Let’s keep entertaining!

  33. Beek
    November 17, 2017 at 9:23 am

    This book would greatly help my non-existant entertaining skills… and ALL of my girl friends are so talented I feel VERY inadequate.. so this would be a wonderful primer!!!! Merriest of Holidays, Mary.

  34. Donna Milazzo
    November 17, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Sounds delish! My party tip is to make lists for everything and arrange tasks in chronological order by how far ahead they can be done.

  35. November 17, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I am so glad you shared this book as there’s nothing I aspire to more than stressless entertaining.

  36. homeschoolertests
    November 17, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Hey Mary, thank you for all that you share! I love tradition. I have certain recipes that I always use in files by holiday. That way I don’t have to go searching through several different cookbooks.

  37. Patti Kachmar
    November 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I make pepper jam ( you can also buy it at the grocery store) Then I take 8oz. of cream cheese and slice it from the left side to the right making 2 triangles. Flip the right side to make a Christmas tree and use a cinnamon stick as a trunk. Pour jam on top and serve with crackers. You can also give as a hostess gift on a holiday plate. Place unopened packs of crackers,jam and cream cheese on plate along with napkins and cheese spreader and wrap in cellophane.Makes a great hostess or office gift.

  38. Linda Graves
    November 17, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Whenever I need a recipe for a special occasion, I turn to your site. You always have wonderful ideas and the “touches” that make something elegant out of something easy to accomplish. Thanks for sharing your talent.

  39. Denise Anderson
    November 17, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for all the inspiration! I love your photos, recipes, and artistry. I learned, after forgetting food in the refrigerator several times, to make spread sheets before every party. I make a MENU, check all ingredients and come up with a SHOPPING LIST, make a DAILY LIST of things to do, i.e. clean, shop, cook, and make a COOKING LIST for day before and day of event. I set my tablescape at least one day before the event, then an HOURLY BREAKDOWN LIST for day of event cooking and plating. I know this sounds a little crazy but it keeps me organized and not frazzled! It also allows me to enjoy the event, my friends, and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

  40. November 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Mary, the book looks to be a great resource, but as I’ve said many, many times, “You should publish a book!” I enjoy reading entertaining books, so will add this to my list. Just this morning I read a review of Cathy Graham’s new book, Second Bloom. It’s on my list too! I love hosting dinner parties!

  41. Nancy Brakebusch
    November 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I have finally assembled a variety of different set of china, flatware and glassware to use for different occasions and now it would be wonderful to have a book that would provide amazing receipes for these different events, I have always loved your fantastic table scapes.

  42. November 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Hi Mary, I love visiting your site and seeing all your pretty tables and recipes! My favorite holiday recipe is Ina Garten’s Palmiers. I make them in the roll, freeze it and then slice and bake when needed.

  43. Janet Block
    November 17, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Entertaining has been one of favorite activities for as long as I can remember. I recieve so much enjoyment and satisfaction from planning, preparing and hosting family and friends. Now, I joyfully see that this party planning affliction has rubbed off on my daughters. We all thoroughly enjoy entertaining together or separately. I couldn’t be happier to have passed on my love of entettaining.

  44. November 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I love a recipe that uses a wheel of Gouda cheese that’s wrapped in a sheet of crescent roll and baked, Mary. It’d be perfect with your mulled wine. Thanks for the opportunity to win! I’ll click my cup of warm wine 🍷 to you!

  45. lynn hummer
    November 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    I am hosting a party December 17th and will be making this for sure!!! I love also doing a cheeseball. 16 oz cream cheese softened. 1/2 cup old farmhouse chutney, 1/4 cup green onion, 1 clove of garlic, crushed. dash salt and pepper, 1/2 cup colby cheese shredded, 1/2 cup monterey jack shredded. form mixture into ball and roll it into chopped pecans.

  46. November 17, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    My tip for hosting a party is don’t overdo it. I’m totally at fault of doing this. There is no need to make 42 different appetizers along with a full blown meal. Too me years to learn this after breaking my neck to make everything “perfect”. Your guest will appreciate everything you do and if they don’t – shame on them. You should be able to enjoy your guest and the party as well.

  47. November 17, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    One favorite I like to use is party meatballs. You can make your own meatballs or buy a large bag of frozen Italian meatballs. Bake them in the oven then place them in a crockpot and add barbecue sauce. Another variation is to add grape jelly with a dash or two of Worcestershire instead of the barbeque sauce.

  48. November 17, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for the perfect ideas for this holiday season. I am planning a small dessert party for some dear friends and am going to use the cranberry punch, and some savories too. I want a stress-free day, but delicious food.

  49. November 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Raising my glass to this perfect recipe for Thanksgiving right through New Year’s Mary-cheers:@)

  50. Nancy
    November 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    My entertaining tip is to get your guests involved in the food by having a tasting party. One year I had an apple tasting party with 6 different varieties of apples. Another time I had a bbq sauce tasting during March Madness. We tasted Eastern NC sauce, Western NC sauce, and Memphis sauce (the games were in Memphis that year) and voted on our favorites. You can choose anything, but is especially fun to seek out local specialities.

  51. Barbara
    November 17, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mary! My spirits are always lifted when I spot your blog in my email. You have such a gift for so many beautiful things. My mother-in-law had a gift for all things garden and entertaining also. When she passed this year, it was difficult dividing up her lovely collections of china, silver and table linens, each piece carefully ironed and tucked away. She would have loved a book about entertaining, especially with such interesting themes. I would be able to use her pretty things to plan events using the ideas in the InStyle book. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be so different this year. She had all the elements for seating and serving a very large crowd. I suspect we will be switching to disposable products on her side of the family from now on. The food and companionship will still be great. My job is always to provide a large cheese and charcuterie tray. It keeps the crowd busy while the kitchen crowd is finishing the meal prep. Thanks for all you share with us, Mary!

  52. Beth Hely
    November 17, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving!!
    Entertainment tips: keep it simple but elegant, one color – hydrangeas as a table centerpiece, prepare with semi-homemade items, keep frozen creampuffs and puff pastries in the freezer for last minute dessert, outdoor parties if weather permits and candles all around the pateo and or paper lanterns!! :-)

  53. Ann Reynolds
    November 17, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    When I am having a gathering with a lot of folks, I hire a high school student to be the “wait” staff. It takes some of the burden off of serving and gives the student experience not only in serving but how people act at a formal dinner.

  54. Denise R.
    November 17, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I pipe various dips into small square plastic cups/containers and stand assorted crudities in the dip to make an easy to hold, grab and go, veggie appetizers. They look great on a tray. I always label the types of dips!

  55. Blue
    November 17, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Planning is half the battle, follow thru is the other half. Most people never ask the “What If” question.. otherwise, there would be that plan b,c, d and e.. never lean too heavily on any one aspect of the items of your party. Abs second — delegate wisely, but follow up and follow thru. People will let you down by circumstances only, the food didn’t arrive, the band can’t play, you didn’t count on needing my parking–
    plan, follow thru, and delegate and follow up ☆

  56. June
    November 17, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Lists! And more Lists! These keep me under control! I would love to have this book.

  57. November 17, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Love mulled wine 🍷 and I will try this one…when I’m having large parties, I usually stick to already tried and true recipes and several that can be made ahead..if I w t to try something new, I’ll make it a week or so before to make sure it’s right and taste good…like I said, I like to make things that can be made ahead safely..we are having 22 family members for Thanksgiving this year..Thanksgiving is one holiday where almost all my fa,ily favs for be made ahead..sure makes it easy for me…maybe that book will giving me some great new things to try..also, have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!🦃🍁🦃🍁

    • November 17, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      Sorry, Thanksgiving is one holiday where almost all my family favs can be made ahead..

      That is how the sentence is supposed to read..

  58. Susan K.
    November 17, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I would love to learn some more entertaining ideas. I like to give teas. It helps to make and freeze things ahead of time.

  59. Phyllis
    November 17, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    I am in a supper club that meets several times each year. I would love to find some new party ideas in the book you are graciously giving away.
    I always make spiced pecans when I am entertaining, especially during the holidays. They can be made ahead of time and are a great addition to light appetizers.
    I love the punch recipe and have an occasion to make that very soon.
    Thanks for your ideas in your lovely blog. Happy holidays!

  60. November 18, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Mary, I don’t often comment but wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! I’ve enjoyed reading through everyone’s tips and recipes. I make a cranberry-apple version of this recipe, without the wine. It makes the whole house smell so good and puts everyone in the Christmas spirit. Thanks for your wonderful ideas, keep them coming! Thanksgiving Blessings to you and your family, Jerrie.

  61. Norma Rolader
    November 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

    The book sounds so great with a lot of inspirations

  62. November 18, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Mary, I have an In-Style Entertaining book from several years ago, I still use it! For the easiest appetizer, I love a soft- melted Brie with fig preserves and really good rosemary crackers! It only takes 10 minutes and guests always love it! Have a wonderful weekend!

  63. Pat
    November 18, 2017 at 10:01 am

    The punch sounds delicious either way-alcoholic or non. I plan to make this for our Thanksgiving celebration. Mary, thank you for all your wonderful inspirations, inside or out!

  64. Sheran
    November 18, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Thank you so very much for the great ideas! I love anything I can use the crockpot for~ very easy.
    As always I love your photos and have been practicing your trips and tricks…’chasing light!’
    Thank you again for your generosity in sharing.

  65. November 18, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Hi Mary! What a wonderful give-away!!! We entertain often and it would come in so handy!

    Thanks for your cranberry mulled cocktail recipe – fun to see how it differs from mine. I serve one every year for my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange party. Hey – I will use that as my tip: it is the easiest party I host all year…..just have the gals package pretty a certain amount of cookies – we used to do 12 now we only bring 6 of the kind we’re sharing…and here’s the tip…have them bring 12 of them as sample/tasters. Voila – the party is done, no extra making of food – just drinks and a festive home, we do gift swaps and games too usually – but it is a fun easy party with no cooking or baking other than the one kind of cookie I am swapping. Easy peasy and one of the most fun ones at the busiest time of year!

    • Porti
      November 18, 2017 at 11:54 am

      A question for Michelle/Finch Rest
      I haven’t been to a cookie party so I’m wondering how many guests you invite and how the party goes. You said that you each bring six in a package and 12 for tasting. Do you sample all the cookies and then each guest takes home some? Or someone else’s package of six? Are recipes included? Do you provide the take home container for each guest? Sounds like fun. Thanks.

  66. Nancy
    November 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Mary, thank you for such a beautiful post. Can’t wait to try this divine drink!

  67. Porti
    November 18, 2017 at 11:55 am

    A question for Michelle/Finch Rest
    I haven’t been to a cookie party so I’m wondering how many guests you invite and how the party goes. You said that you each bring six in a package and 12 for tasting. Do you sample all the cookies and then each guest takes home some? Or someone else’s package of six? Are recipes included? Do you provide the take home container for each guest? Sounds like fun. Thanks.

  68. Kathleen Keyes
    November 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I am the person who procrastinates until the last minute on decorations and actual cooking for the holidays. This book would be wonderful for me!
    And the mulled Cranberry Wine will definitely be made for this year’s New Year’s Eve party. 10 years ago, some widowed friends and I decided to play bridge on New Year’s Eve. We started with 2 tables and now have to limit ourselves to 4 tables – everyone wants to come, even still married friends! It is no longer a night of mourning the past but a celebration of friends and a new year 😊

  69. November 18, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Mary, Your slow cooker mulled wine sounds delicious and perfect for Christmas. I love the Christmas holiday reason but it can be so hectic so I like to have some recipes at the ready that are simple and easy to assemble but still look festive. Your rosemary wreath with olives and cheese fits the bill perfectly for that. Keep your ideas coming, I always look forward to your posts. Thankfully, Karen S.

  70. Paula
    November 18, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving. Your hot drink looks so pretty to drink,
    What a lovely book giveaway , perfect for up coming holidays!

  71. Karenann
    November 18, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Thank you for such a lovely giveaway opportunity! The book is so nice, I’d love to win a copy. My favorite entertaining tip is I always set up a small table with a beautiful tablecloth, floral centerpiece and ice bucket. I place all my drinks, my punch, sodas, wine and beers beautifully displayed on the table, along with gorgeous glassware. This way our dinner table never gets bogged down with bottles of drinks. This leaves the table clear for all the delicious food. After the meal when dessert is served, I then take away all the dinner drinks and replace it with my beautiful coffee urns and tea servers. This makes serving drinks so much easier.

  72. Leslie Jr
    November 19, 2017 at 9:51 am

    My mother-in-law is making the mulled wine to take to the beach, where we are having thanksgiving this year! This recipe for Cranberry Nut bread would compliment the drink.
    Cranberry Nut Bread

    1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries- coarsely chopped
    ½ cup chopped nuts
    2 cups flour
    1 cup sugar
    1½ teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoon butter
    ¾ cup orange juice
    1 egg- well beaten

    Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease and lightly flour a loaf pan. Prepare cranberries and nuts. Set aside. I a bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda. Cut in butter. Stir in orange juice and egg mixing just to moisten. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf.

  73. Kim Ezman
    November 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I have never had mulled wine at my Thanksgiving Dinner but this year I’m changing everything up! 5 yrs ago we lost my step-son on Thanksgiving to suicide and I decided instead of dreading November 23rd for the rest of our lives we would celebrate Daniel’s life. So I’m going to include this recipe in our Thanksgiving Celebration and Daniel’s Day. I’m trying all new recipes rather than the ones we have been enjoying for the last 25 years….wish me luck in my choices :-)

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone…and God Bless!

    • November 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      I’m so sorry for the tragic loss of your stepson Kim but glad you are able to celebrate his memory. Thanksgiving Blessings to you and your family. ♥

  74. Virginia
    November 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Mary thank you for always exciting us with new and clever entertaining ideas to decorate our homes with and food to serve our friends and family. This year my husband and I are entertaining those in our community who are spending the Christmas holiday “Home Alone” for the second year. When they arrived last year we served them a Champage Poinsetta, again thanks to you. We provided two turkeys, one roasted the traditional way, one deep fried as my Dad always prepared and a ham, everyone else brings a dish to accompany the meal. Last year we entertained 23 friends and neighbors each of whom left with your Spicy Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters. They were a big hit. I would love to win the In Style Entertaining Book. I wish to thank Leslie for the previous recipe as I believe it may just be my next gift to send home with guests. Thanks again Mary and Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and your husband.

  75. Virginia
    November 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I felt the need to add another comment after reading Kim’s post. Holidays are especially difficult if you have lost a loved one especially a child. I can relate to Kim as my son, David died tragically in an airplane crash 20 years ago. He loved holidays and family and I too found it comforting to make changes to our traditional holiday festivities. He would have celebrated his 43rd birthday on December 8th. For many years it was a day I dreaded but now find it a day of joy as I have learned to be thankful for the joy and blessings he brought to me and all those who loved him. Kim, Good luck to you and your family this year. Virginia❤️🙏🌻

  76. Debbie Read
    November 20, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Thank you so much for the chance to win such a beautiful book! My husband is a hunter so we always have jalapeño cheese deer sausage links in the freezer! To get the party started, we grill these, slice and serve along with a homemade BBQ sauce! Always a hit! Love your posts!

  77. November 20, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I don’t entertain anymore, but I do love to daydream about it.
    Patricia (NC Coast)

  78. November 20, 2017 at 11:11 am

    What a wonderful book. I am one who has never feared entertaining, and I just love to peruse new ideas.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  79. Judy L.
    November 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I love hosting afternoon teas and collecting books with recipes for the teas. Any recipe that can be made ahead of time is a winner! So often it’s the garnishes and the special ways to cut the sandwiches that make them so appealing. Plus, oh the dishes – so much fun to collect. Also cannot wait to try your cranberry mulled wine – something for all the senses!

  80. Susan
    November 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Always looking for new ways to entertain and present food that not only looks inviting but also delicious.

  81. Gina
    November 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Love your posts and love your pooches! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  82. sheree
    November 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Love this idea and will be serving a mulled wine for Christmas tree decorating. Love the style of the book . My favorite entertaining appetizer this year is a cranberry jalapeño salsa over cream cheese. It is very refreshing ! May sound odd but everyone loves it!

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