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Busy Moms' Guide to Entertaining

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Only have a few hours to throw together a dinner party? Don't panic! Entertaining expert Jeanne Benedict gives Moms her best tips for easy entertaining.

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1. Awesome Apps: A cheese plate with several kinds of cheese and warm french bread are great starters. Adding grapes around the edges gives it a "I thought about this" look. If you have kids coming over, everybody loves pigs in a blanket-even adults, so make some extra. It's a guaranteed winner.

2.Hide the Mess: House in shambles? Light some candles. It instantly softens the look of the house and creates a relaxed atmosphere.

3.Tickle Their Senses: Your guests don't have to know you're serving take out. Throw some rosemary and lemon peel on the stove to make the house smell like you've been cooking all day. A quick tip? Dab vanilla extract on top of lightbulbs to make the house smell yummy.

4.Pasta Party: If you only have an hour, aren't sure who is coming and what their food preferences are, making pasta's always a safe bet. For sauce, heat up two options (meat and vegetarian) and serve them in separate bowls. Adding a dash of rosemary will make it look like you made the sauce fresh. Use the leftover french bread and serve it on the side.

5. Make it Fun: Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes from cheese or veggies on your appetizer plate or as an accessory on the main course. Setting up a kids table? Let them cut their own shapes into cucumbers or soft cheese. A tip: Using construction paper at the kids' table and adding crayons is a great way for them to stay entertained. This way, the adults can enjoy some wine while the kids play.

6.Get Creative: Serve dips or hummus in a martini glass:add some fresh paprika and it looks like Mom spent hours in the kitchen. The better the food looks, the better it tastes!


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