A Simple Guide to Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

Open houses, cookie exchanges, family dinners, New Year’s parties — the holidays are one celebration after another. Whether you’re hosting an event or contributing to a potluck, we have stress-free holiday entertaining ideas including easy appetizers, fun cocktails, and the perfect hostess gift.

Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Unless you’ve committed to cooking an entire holiday meal, a selection of appetizers is perfect when entertaining a crowd, whether big or small!  The appetizer choices below won’t take you hours of prep time and you can find all the necessary ingredients from the vendors at The Markets!

side by side photos of three holiday entertaining appetizers

Here are a few other holiday appetizers your guests will love:

In addition, check out our tips for creating a wine and cheese pairing.

Festive Holiday Cocktails

Add a unique twist to holiday entertaining by offering your guests holiday-inspired cocktails. You don’t need to buy a lot of unknown ingredients to create something special.

Start with a visit to your favorite local winery. Many of them offer limited-edition holiday varieties that add instant holiday spirit. Naylor’s Wine Cellar sells special bottles of Sugar Plum, Holiday Spice, and Old-Fashioned Apple wines throughout the season.

You can also turn a simple bottle of wine into a winter sangria with just a few extra ingredients. This is the perfect holiday cocktail for a crowd!

Red Wine Winter Sangria Recipe:

  • 2 bottles of red wine
  • 1/2 cup orange flavored liquor
  • simple syrup
  • cinnamon sticks
  • sliced Gala apples, Bartlett pears, oranges, tangerines, and cranberries

White Wine Winter Sangria:

  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 1 cup rum
  • 1 cup white cranberry juice
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Diced green apples, red apples, and cranberries

How Much Food and Drink to Serve

When you’re entertaining, it can be tricky to know how many drinks and appetizers you should have per guest. You don’t want to find yourself with too many leftovers but also don’t want to run out of food and drink too early in the evening.  These general guidelines will help you determine how much to buy and prepare.


  • If you are serving a meal, have 6 pieces per guest.
  • If you are not serving a meal, have 4-6 pieces per guest per hour. For a two-hour party, you should have 8-12 bites per guest.


Again, for a two-hour party, you’ll want to have the following on hand:

  • 1 bottle of wine per 2 guests
  • 3 beers per each guest
  • 3 servings of cocktail per guest
  • 3 servings on non-alcoholic drink per guest

Hostess Gifts

During the holiday season, your mailbox is probably filling up with invitations to parties and other events. This means you’ll need a lot of hostess gifts on hand.  With a  quick trip to The Markets you can find several easy ideas for hostess gifts that are sure to be well received. Try one of these:

collage of hostess gift ideas for holiday entertaining

Holiday entertaining is easy when you shop The Markets at Shrewsbury! Our vendors are taking pre-orders for all of your food and gift needs until December 27.

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