5 Things to have on hand for last-minute holiday entertaining

Dawn Viola

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Whether an impromptu office party, a forgotten bake sale at school or a last-minute get together with family and friends, keeping your pantry stocked with these fab-five holiday helpers will keep you stress-free, merry and bright:

crudites

1The baker's half-dozen

Always keep flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, baking powder and baking soda in your pantry during the holidays. These 7 magical holiday ingredients can be turned into hundreds of pie, cookie and quick bread recipes in a snap.

2Crudités

Carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers and goat cheese can be turned into an impressive platter in no time. Slice vegetables on the bias or in long sticks, and mix goat cheese with fresh or dried herbs. Take it a step further and add grapes, dried fruits, crackers, hard salami and additional cheeses.

3Olives

Olives can be marinated in garlic, oil, fresh herbs and citrus zest, or pureed and served as tapenade with crusty bread for a quick appetizer.

4Something sparkling

Whether cider, mineral water or wine, keep a bubbly bottle of your favorite fizzy drink ice cold and ready for last minute holiday entertaining.

5Holiday music

To set the mood, keep at least one holiday music CD in the mixer at all times.  When the doorbell rings, press play. Keep one in your car, too, in case of music emergencies this holiday season. 

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