Simple suggestions to ease the stress of entertaining.|By Julia Dowling Rutland
• Plan your menu at least a week in advance. That will give you time to locate hard-to-find items and shop the sales. To avoid
long checkout lines, visit the grocery during weekdays or off-peak hours.
• Skip the experiments. Prepare items you've successfully made before. Besides, guests may be looking forward to your specialties.
• Use a few convenience foods. For a quick appetizer, top a whole Brie wheel with prepared mango chutney and serve with plenty
of thin ginger snaps.
• Set out plates, serving pieces, glasses, and flatware the night before. It's less stressful to search for that stray serving
spoon without an audience.
• Clean as you cook. Unless you've enlisted a kitchen helper, stopping to wash and put away pots and pans will save time at
the end of the day (when you're most tired).
• Don't overclean your house. Remove clutter, dust large items, dim the lights, and set out a few candles and perhaps some
poinsettias or other bright floral arrangements. That's all you need to create a festive ambience. Focus cleaning time on
the guest bath―it's brighter in there.
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20 Beautiful Beach Cottages From polished and sophisticated to rustic and casual, browse through this roundup of beach cottages to find your favorite