Check It Out: Entertain in style this holiday season

The holiday season will soon begin, so it's time to start planning and preparing for your holiday gatherings. Let the Newport Beach Public Library be your guide with numerous books to help you this holiday season.

Set the tone for your party with "Paperie for Inspired Living" by Karen Bartolomei. This book contains creative ideas to make a first impression, starting with the invitation. Bartolomei creates coordinated suites of paper products to celebrate any occasion. Besides invitations, theses suites include labels, favor tags, menus, programs and other small keepsakes. Projects use materials that can easily be found at any craft store.

After you've set the tone, use Caroline Clifton-Mogg's "Set with Style" to coordinate your table. This resource guide covers table setting designs perfect for any occasion. Filled with photographs, "Set with Style" offers practical tips to create unique place settings based on styles, meal times and specific occasions.

Now that your table is set, check out some of these good eats. "Gather" by Georgeanne Brennan contains memorable menus for entertaining. Based around a single menu, recipes are divided by seasons with decorating and cooking tips as well as photos.

For those who want to fix it and forget about it, "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Entertaining" by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann is the ideal choice. This volume contains more than 300 recipes to help you with both casual and formal entertaining, covering everything from hors d'oeuvres and drinks to soups and chili to vegetables and grains to main courses to desserts.

If you have special dietary needs, consider Robin Robertson's "Party Vegan" and/or "The Vegan Table" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. "Party Vegan" features one-of-a-kind dishes that vegans, vegetarians and omnivores will enjoy. Holiday menus even offer recipe swaps from other seasonal menus. "The Vegan Table" contains 200 recipes for all of your guests regardless of whether you're having a large party with an open guest list or an intimate get-together with a few of your friends and family.

Don't forget about dessert. When you need a break from your planning read the novel "The Christmas Cookie Club" by Ann Pearlman. This debut novel follows twelve women who gather together every December to swap homemade cookies, enjoy a potluck of hors d'oeuvres, and share their stories. Each chapter includes the cookie recipe shared by the attendees.

And if Pearlman's Cookie Club inspires you, organize your own club with your closest friends using "Cookie Swap" by Julia M. Usher. There are several decorating and invitation ideas, more than 50 mouth-watering treats, photos and helpful tips on hosting the best swap possible.

Visit the Newport Beach Public Library to check out these party helpers and more. You'll be sure to host a memorable party this holiday season with just the right spread.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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