Holiday Entertaining Made Easy (and Budget-Friendly)

As I shared with you last month, I have had a wonderful opportunity to work as the brand ambassador for Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice beverages. A couple weeks ago I spent the day in New York City and did a little filming on ways to make holiday entertaining easier on your family. Today, I am excited to share that segment with you, along with other tips for effortless entertaining!

When it comes to entertaining, I really believe that advanced preparation is key! For me it is all about freezing those dishes in the weeks prior to your Thanksgiving dinner, stocking your pantry with the essentials for last minute guests and finding new ways to transform that holiday dinner into delicious meals for the next day. These small things really do make the holidays much less stressful and more enjoyable!

Here are a few tips for making the most of your money and your holidays this year:

Skip the Big Cooking Day. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have a day free anymore to do a marathon of cooking. I learned years ago that in order to make any celebration happen in our house, I needed to acquaint myself with dishes that could be made ahead of time, frozen and then pulled out on the big day.

After years of trial and error, I have found that I can make almost every Thanksgiving side dish and a plethora of holiday appetizers in the weeks prior to our Thanksgiving feast…and it tastes just like the day I made it. If you are looking for make-ahead recipes to add to your feast this year, be sure to visit my Make-Ahead Side Dishes recipes and my Make-Ahead Appetizers for those lingering guests who want to snack before or after the big meal.

Keep it Simple. When people ask me what special traditions we do for our family on Thanksgiving, I sometimes feel that my answer is too simple –we don’t have any grandiose traditions other than spending the morning watching the parade in our pajamas and snuggling together on the couch as a family. By hosting the Thanksgiving feast in the evening, it gives us time to remember what the holiday is all about… Being together. Being a family.

Now that my kids are both reading, I’ve added a little Thanksgiving Bingo to our holiday tradition. They can play and munch on some Thanksgiving snacks while I prepare our dinner.

Skip the Fancy Centerpieces. If your kids are anything like mine, they are bringing home quite a few Thanksgiving crafts.  We started a tradition of skipping the fancy centerpieces and using the kid’s fabulous masterpieces from school to decorate our tables.

If you want to create a family tradition that is low on cost, but embraces this time of thankfulness, create your own Thankful Tree. Have the kids gather branches from the yard and spray paint them your favorite color. Next, have them cut out leaves from scrapbook paper. When your guests arrive, have them all write what they are most thankful for and hang them with ribbon off of the tree.

Check Your Stock. You no doubt have a long grocery list for the multiple Thanksgiving dinner dishes you and your family will enjoy this holiday season. Don’t forget to stock your fridge with crowd favorites for those guests who stick around after the holidays. Make sure to pick up:

  • Bread – you can always whip up some French toast for breakfast or a quick leftover turkey sandwich for an easy lunch
  • Eggs –  make frittatas in the morning with your leftover vegetables or easy breakfast burritos for guests that may be heading out to do their Black Friday shopping
  • Medicine – for those guests that have had one too many glasses of wine the night before J
  • Minute Maid Pure Squeezed No Pulp 100% Orange Juice – it tastes just like a fresh ripe orange and comes in a 59 oz container, so you’ll have enough to go around for all of your guests
  • Granola bars or trail mix – either option is a great, filling snack to pack for your traveling family and friends

Use Those Leftovers. Although visitors can be a blessing, hosting out-of-towners can mean entertaining even after the holidays! Make Black Friday easier by planning a light breakfast, using holiday leftovers, for all your visiting guests so they are fueled to hit the mall or get back on the road. Some of my favorite leftovers to use include pumpkin pie, steamed veggies, turkey and mashed potatoes. Oh, and don’t forget your beverages – you’ll need a great tasting orange juice like Minute Maid Pure Squeezed to satisfy your guests!

Light & Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes

makes 4 servings


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch clove
  • 1 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup leftover pumpkin pie (just the filling from the pie)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter1 egg


1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.

2. In separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg. Fold mixture into dry ingredients.

3. Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat: pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. This recipe makes six 6-inch pancakes.


Turkey & Veggie Frittata (adapted from Family Fun)

makes 8 servings


  • Your choice of vegetables – use leftover steamed or fresh vegetables!
  • Turkey – cut your leftover turkey into cubes for this yummy breakfast
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary


1. In a 10-inch nonstick, ovenproof skillet, sauté leftover vegetables in 1 teaspoon olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with rosemary, pepper and salt to taste. Empty mixture into a medium bowl and add turkey and eggs.

2. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Set over medium-low heat and pour the egg mixture into pan. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are set on the bottom and lightly browned. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top and broil 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned.


Hash Browns (Courtesy of

makes 8 servings


  • 4 cups mashed potatoes – use leftover potatoes!
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil


1. Beat egg in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix egg and onion with mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium size frying pan, over a medium heat. Scoop the potato mixture into the frying pan in 4 inch circles, pat with a spatula to flatten the mounds to approximately 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Cook until bottom is browned. Flip the patty over and brown on the other side.


For more great tips, please watch the video, above, to learn more ways to make holiday entertaining effortless and budget-friendly!

Happy holidays to your family from our family!

Published November 09, 2011 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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