Holiday entertaining requires more than artful decorations, tasty hors d’oeuvres and some cheerful libations. Savvy hosts know that great holiday entertaining occurs in a home that sparkles as brightly as the decorations that adorn it.

The holidays can be a time to truly let your hostess skills shine, as family and friends gather to celebrate. From beautifully polished silverware on the table, to a well stocked refrigerator that is fresh and inviting when guests go looking for a soft drink, to a home filled with the aroma of just-baked confections – every detail should convey the holiday theme of bright and shiny.

To ensure you’re ready to welcome guests this holiday season, lifestyle expert Jill Cordes offers tips to make your preparations a cinch.

Holiday aromas

Evergreen trees, the smell of fresh-baked goods and cranberry scented candles – the holidays are filled with wonderful aromas. Don’t let smelly leftovers overpower the joyful scents of the season.

Guests will appreciate a refrigerator that is clean and odor free, and a sink area that doesn’t suffer from “stinky disposal syndrome.” Place an open box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors and prevent taste transfer between foods. Deodorize the garbage disposal and drains by pouring baking soda down them while running warm tap water.

Get the smell of fresh garlic from all that holiday cooking off your fingers by rubbing your hands on stainless steel, either a stainless steel spatula or along the edge of your sink. Then wash with regular soap and water. The stainless steel neutralizes the odors.

Holiday sparkle

The star atop your Christmas tree shouldn’t be the only thing in your home that shines for the holiday.

To get your best silverware and jewelry sparkling for holiday get-togethers, make an easy, affordable silver polish with a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water and rub with a cloth. For gleaming crystal, clean with vinegar and lemon juice.

Foods of the season

Meals savored with loved ones are the characteristic “flavor” of the holiday.

Store heart-warming winter greens like Swiss chard, spinach and kale in an open container in the fridge. Cauliflower should be stored stem side down, whereas broccoli stores best standing upright on the bottom shelf. If you leave them in the plastic bags you bought them in, remember to poke holes in the bag to allow the greens to breathe so they last longer.

Store fresh tomatoes on your counter with the stem side down to prevent bruising and softening. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator, where they immediately begin to lose flavor; or in closed containers or sealed plastic, which cause premature ripening.

Make sure your baked goods “rise” to the occasion this holiday season. Try this quick and easy recipe for light, moist old-fashioned corn bread:

Ingredients:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 tablespoons shortening, melted

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in cornmeal. Combine eggs, buttermilk and melted shortening. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring only until smooth. Turn into a well-greased 8-by-8 inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Cut into 16 squares.

Holiday home cleaning

From top to bottom, a clean home will tell your guests how much you value their comfort while they visit your home.

Don’t season your fresh holiday ham with chemicals – clean your food prep area by wiping cutting boards, counters and oven tops with food safe, chemical-free cleaners.

Since spills can happen, have cleaning supplies on hand so that guests don’t feel embarrassed or stressed about a stain on your upholstery or carpet. You can also freshen your carpet right before your friends and family arrive. Just sprinkle some baking soda, wait 15 minutes and vacuum. Your guests will be greeted by the scent of the delicious holiday meal cooking in your kitchen and not your smelly carpet.

For more ideas and tips on holiday entertaining from Jill Cordes and Arm & Hammer, the most recognized baking soda brand, visit www.ArmandHammer.com. – Courtesy of ARAcontent.


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