Easy holiday hosting

This season, create an elegant table with some simple touches.

It’s that time of year when icy snow sprinkles, colourful lights twinkle and we gather at the dinner table to celebrate the holidays. Whether you’re planning a large family dinner or an intimate get-together with friends, here are a few ideas to make your guests feel welcome by presenting them with a feast for their eyes and tastebuds.

Add a chill to your spirits

Keeping your guests’ glasses filled and chilled is part being a great host. With The Rocks Drink Chilling Cubes from Kitchen Stuff Plus, your cocktail creations will stay cool without getting watered down. Just pop these stainless steel cubes into the freezer and in a few hours they are ready to use. KitchenStuffPlus.com, kitchenstuffplus.com/ 19424-KSP-The-Rocks-Drink- Chilling-Cubes-Set-of-4.aspx

Roll out the sweet course

Baking sugar cookies is a classic holiday activity. They’re easy to prepare ahead and fun to make with your little helpers too. Williams-Sonoma carries a variety of wonderful cookie cutters in shapes such as candy canes, Hanukkah dreidels, Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes and gingerbread men along with ready-made icing and coloured sugars to dress the cookies up. No time to decorate? Make delicious, fun-shaped sandwich cookies — just spread Nutella or jam over one cookie, sandwich with another and dust with icing sugar. These elegant cookie cutters are also a great gift idea for the baker in your life. Tie two or three shapes together with sparkly holiday ribbon, print a little card with your favourite sugar cookie recipe and tie it to the gift. Williams-Sonoma.com, williams-sonoma.com/shop/bakeware/cookie-cutters-pancake-molds/?cm_type=lnav

Nutty and nice surprise

You’ve taken great care in dressing the dinner table; why not surprise your guests with a little bundle of nutty goodness waiting for them at their place setting? In a bowl, combine dried cranberries, pistachios, pecans and fine quality white and dark chocolate chips. Scoop a cupful into clear cellophane bags and tie with beautiful red or gold ribbons. Personalize each pouch by tying a crafty tag to the gift and writing a special message.

Show-stopping salmon

Serve an impressive side of salmon as your main course this season. Mix chopped collards, sliced radishes and crushed hazelnuts in a dish, drizzle with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and spoon over salmon. Bake in a foil pouch for about 20 minutes at 375 F or until fish is flaky.

Enjoy this tasty time of year.