Holiday Tips from Carolyn Bender The Hostess with the Mostess

Hard to believe the holidays are just around the corner!!  

Does the very thought send you into a tizzy, short on time or entertaining just not your thing…??
Carolyn Bender,  is the go to girl, for entertaining and parties…Her clients count on  her for lifetime events and momentous occasions.  She has become an event and entertaining expert so many  rely on for their personal celebrations …somewhat of a personal “Martha Stewart” creating events with Southern hospitality and New York Style.
I asked her for her tips and recommendations for the upcoming holidays….here are tips from the hostess with the mostess,..


 First and foremost – it’s all about the mood!

1. It is all about the senses!   

Make it smell good, taste good and feel good-
candles, yummy food and drinks and music, very important!!

2. You can never have too many candles.

Places like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond sell poured votives in a 12 pack and actually have quite good selections around holidays, fill up the house wherever you can.  
For a more glamorous or decorative candle try
for a huge variety of color and decorative styles.
My favorite scented candle right now is the champagne Jonathan Adler.  What could be more perfect for the holidays?  
Available at Landsberg Jewelers… 914.761.1122


3. Feed people

…”it must be the Mama in me but I always feel the need to feed everyone!”
Buy it, make it whatever you do, just don’t plan anything that makes you bound to the kitchen.
So many easy things that can be prepared in advance.
Huge platters of cold shrimp, cheeses, antipasto …put out a spread so guests can help themselves.


4. Buy it…you are not the kitchen type, working too much? -Let someone else cook it.


“so many great places around and Cooked and CO (914- 205-3939)  has my meatball recipe that I made for years as a caterer…
Order a few pounds from Herb and the gang.  When we were full service catering we would hollow out a big round bread and serve the meatballs in  the bread round with a rosemary garnish.”
They make amazing pizzettes and great grilled chicken skewers and tomato mozzarella shooters


5. Music is a must!

I wake up to it and go to bed with the music on so to say that it’s important to me is an understatement….and I cannot overstate how important I feel it is to a party.
If you are really planning a bash and want something with live musicians my go to guy is David Waterman @ Total Entertainment.  201-894-0055 x212
Even if it’s just a few coming by for cocktails.. make sure to get the iPod out, check I tunes for pre set playlist, or simply hit genius on your favorite feel good song!

6. Keep things flowing….

Come up with a specialty drink and offer guests as they arrive.  Even if you don’t have bar tending help, pick something that can be premixed and set out trays of something fun like a pomegranate martini.  Alternately, have a beautiful wine carafe with a good bottle of wine.  My choice is french white. Michael Thomas at Zachy’s in Scarsdale  (914-723-0241) always  picks just the right thing for me..  My favorite right now is

Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse 2012 , but I do believe in variety.  Everybody’s got their somethin’…have a variety so everyone has what they like.  


7.  Don’t stress, be organized and have a game plan.  Write it down.

Place orders in advance, have everything on hand early.  If planning on cooking buy non perishables early, stock the sodas, mixers etc early.
Stores are soooo crowded on weekends and as the holiday grows closer, make a list and do as much in advance as possible.


8. Get dressed up, whatever makes you feel good…

I’m always happier in heels, but if a cotton t is your thing, make it your own, relaxed comfortable night.  If you feel good everyone else will.


9. Relax!

 Give yourself time to get  ready…take a bubble bath – Mr. Bubble is still the best (CVS!)
 The best hostess is one who is relaxed , it’s not a job interview….its a gathering of friends and family–it’s all about who you love and like and if you enjoy yourself and feel good everyone else will feel the vibe:)