Barefoot Contessa’s Ina Garten Says This One Holiday Entertaining Move is ‘Risky’

Entertaining for the holidays can become a stressful mess if one tries too hard and takes on things they have no experience doing. Never belittle the value of going simple for holiday parties, including sticking to traditions to avoid risks.

Cooking and entertaining guru Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame usually gives logical advice like this to avoid such disasters. Last year, she gave some excellent tips on how to entertain every holiday season without going over the top just to impress guests.

There are some simple things to do to make a party work and not have guests leave early because they didn’t like the food or ambiance. When it comes to recipes, far too many people try things that are new and end up regretting the response. Take a minute to learn how to avoid this if last year’s holiday parties went awry.

Simplification is at the heart of Ina Garten’s philosophy

Ina Garten
Ina Garten | Michael Bezjian/WireImage

Anyone who’s watched Barefoot Contessa on Food Network will know simplicity is always a lesson Garten recommends for any type of entertaining. For the holidays, guests usually prefer simple foods rather than something overly elaborate.

Keep in mind that entertaining doesn’t mean feeling like competing on The Great American Baking Show. Even the contestants on those baking shows (including the British edition) usually make major mistakes in their cooking, only because the holiday dishes are a tad complicated.

Something as simple as store-bought snacks or even cookies bought in a local bakery always goes over well. Buying from a store shouldn’t be frowned upon. Since many local markets have their own bakeries, it’s possible to buy delicious holiday baked goods there with unique appearance while giving back to the local community.

Not that eliminating home-baked items should be written off the list. If this does occur, Ina Garten gives some good tips to make sure your guests return next year for more.

Ina Garten recommends sticking to familiar recipes

One thing Garten stresses in her holiday entertaining tip list is to avoid new recipes one has no prior experience creating. Turning to family recipes that have been tested and successfully made for other holiday dinners are worth making first.

As Garten says, creating a list of recipes one knows how to create well should always be the first step to holiday party planning. Adding dishes considered suitable for parties should always be included. Sometimes this might mean something as traditional as a longstanding pie recipe in the family.

Again, it’s worth stressing creating simple recipes often goes over just as well than doing something overly complicated. Many pie recipes don’t take a lot of effort to make and taste great.

Whatever it is one makes for a holiday party, Garten always notes not to make anything causing stress. If any self-inflicted stress happens, it’s going to show, and guests will sense this. All this does is ruin the vibe of a holiday party.

Garten also says to put together a list of favorite recipes so it can be consulted during future holiday seasons to avoid repeats.

Ina Garten says to keep the holiday surroundings simple as well

It goes beyond food when doing holiday entertaining. Decorations are going to set the mood for the party, but too many people usually overdecorate to a point where it looks gaudy. Maybe blame shows like The Great Christmas Light Fight for this where excess is more than celebrated with a monetary reward.

From Garten’s perspective, decorating simply and with class is the best way to go. The same goes for finding the right music to play. Maybe this can involve self-made music if having musical ability with a piano or guitar.

Otherwise, choosing the right music is an art form all its own, which should always involve vetting the guests’ taste in music. Yes, Christmas music still comes in different genres, usually divided between the old (classic) and contemporary.