Holiday Entertaining Tips from O&B

Our expert team shares their top tips for stress-free holiday entertaining

When it comes to the festive season, family, friends and let’s face it — food — are top of mind. It’s also a time when hosting duties, meal planning and drop-in guests can make things notoriously stressful. To help hinder any mistletoe madness, we asked some of our experts to share their best tips and time-saving hacks to ensure your holidays are as jolly as can be. From small get-togethers to big family affairs, with a bit of preparedness, you’ll be a holiday hero!

holiday entertaining table spread
Stock Up

Create a seasonal stockpile of key items in case last-minute guests make an appearance. “I like to have extra crackers, Marcona almonds, mixed olives and a bag of ice on hand as well as pre-made dips, tonic and soda water. Frozen appetizers like meatballs, arancini and spring rolls are also handy in a pinch. Don’t overthink it. If guests drop by unannounced, surely they aren’t expecting a full spread! The holidays are about connection. Delicious food is welcome but what matters most is spending time with your guests.”
April Mainprize, Manager, Event Sales

Make a Battleplan

When it comes to hosting holiday dinner, the trickiest part is making sure everything is ready at the same time. “To manage your time effectively, create a plan to help you stay organized. Map out the cooking and resting time of your dishes and work backwards. Do as much as you can ahead of time including setting the table and pulling out your serving dishes and utensils so you’re not scrambling prior to mealtime.”
April Mainprize, Manager, Event Sales

Shop Online

Possibly the best hack for de-stressing during the holidays is implementing some shortcuts. Take it from our experts, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Or worse yet, make everything from scratch. “Store-bought is more than fine! Shop the market for pre-made items, order some frozen O&B Artisan tourtières online or have your meal catered and delivered with help from Gather by O&B — our online marketplace. There’s nothing worse than being at a dinner party where the host is chained to the kitchen.”
– April Mainprize, Manager, Event Sales

Gather holiday offerings.
Be a Flexitarian

You may encounter some dietary restrictions or perhaps a picky eater or two. “As far as handling varying dietary needs, it’s important to be flexible with your recipes. If someone has an allergy or aversion, I’ll do my best to adapt! A strategy that often works well is adding the offending ingredients last. That way, you can set aside a portion for your guests with special requirements and finish the recipe as planned.”
– Andrew Nowry, Chef de Cuisine, The Rabbit Hole

DIY Drinks

With a bevy of things already on the go, don’t overcomplicate the beverages. “Offer a welcome drink on arrival and then invite guests to help themselves. Keep a small bar with glasses, ice and cut citrus. When it comes time for dinner, pour the first glass of wine and then leave the bottle or decanter to pass around. Don’t feel obligated to open a gifted bottle either. It may or not pair with your menu and really is meant to be enjoyed by you another time.”
– April Mainprize, Manager, Event Sales

A Family (Style) Affair

When it comes to serving dinner, there are a few routes you can take. Plated, buffet, family style … as the host, you call the shots! “Personally, my choice is family style as I get to set a beautiful table and my guests can help themselves to whatever item they choose while controlling their portion. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to dinner where the host has piled your plate high with mounds of food and you’re suffering in silence to get through it all.”
– April Mainprize, Manager, Event Sales

Bake in Tradition

Some of the fondest memories from the holiday season revolve around traditions. If you don’t have any… start some! “In my family, we bake knafeh, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with spun pastry. Often served on New Year’s Eve, we hide a loonie inside and whoever finds it is said to have a lucky year ahead.”
– Rosalin Keshishian, Sous Chef, Auberge du Pommier

Keep It Simple

During the holidays, there’s often pressure to outdo what was done last year, but there is no need to go over the top. “Keep it simple and cook what you love. As a chef, I make sure the food I serve reflects my passion for bringing people together. Regardless of who is at the table or whether or not they speak the same language (which is sometimes the case), food is the ultimate unifier.”
– Rosalin Keshishian, Sous Chef, Auberge du Pommier

It’s that easy… well,
easier we hope! No matter what your holidays have in store, our expert tips can help keep you out of a festive frenzy so you can focus on spending time with the ones you love! And, to add a little kick to your holidays, The Rabbit Hole‘s Chef Andrew Nowry has shared his family’s recipe for fruit chili sauce. Ideally served with tourtière (psst… ours are frozen and ready to serve), or any roasted meat, we invite you to make a batch, keep a couple of jars, and gift the rest!

Happy holiday entertaining from all of us at O&B!

Fruit Chili Sauce

Makes 5-6 medium-sized jars (500ml)


10 large ripe tomatoes, diced
4 peaches, peeled and diced
4 pears, diced
3 large onions, diced
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag


Combine ingredients in a large pot. Boil for 2 hours, stirring constantly. Spoon into sanitized jars with lids. Simmer jars in boiling water for 10 minutes using the water bath canning process. Once the jars are properly sealed, let them cool.