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Some Kinda Good with Rebekah Faulk - Entertain with ease this year
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Rebekah's Bonfire in the Sticks featured a tailgate buffet using a mix of made-from-scratch and semi-homemade dishes. - photo by REBEKAH FAULK/contributor

For ideas on what to include on your next party menu, click here!

    It’s officially holiday season, and if you’re like me, visions of green bean casserole, sweet potato soufflé and pumpkin pie have been dancing in your head. This time of year, I’m always itching to entertain. I spend my spare time planning what to bake and take to Thanksgiving dinner and conjuring up a few seasonal parties of my own.
    While I like to joke that food is often the main event in my family, celebrating the holidays is about setting aside time with the people that make life grand. Whether it’s with family members, neighbors or friends, spending quality time with the ones we love often can take a back seat to the busyness of life. This season, don’t let limited resources and little time squelch your efforts. On the big day and beyond, entertaining doesn’t have to mean white tablecloths and candlelight or expensive decorations and elaborate menus. 
    One of my best shindigs yet was a party I like to call my “Bonfire in the Sticks” featuring a tailgate buffet. The get-together worked because all of the elements for a good time were in place: good music, good food and good company. I’ve got some party tips that are budget friendly and fun, and I’ll use my Bonfire in the Sticks to explain. With a little delegation and some semi-homemade dishes, you’ll be entertaining with ease throughout the season and year-round.

Delegate responsibility
    Don’t do everything yourself. Ask your guests to pitch in, whether by bringing their favorite beverages and snacks or putting together a party playlist. One of my trusted friends offered to create a themed playlist to accompany my Bonfire in the Sticks, and the songs, including Craig Morgan’s “Bonfire” and Brantley Gilbert’s “Kick It in the Sticks,” helped set the tone and energy for the party.

Take a cue from Sandra Lee
    Food Network personality Sandra Lee has built an empire around semi-homemade dishes. It’s wonderful to make things from scratch if you have the time and talent, but every moment counts, especially during the holidays. When you can combine ready-made ingredients with a few made-from-scratch items without sacrificing flavor, that’s winning. During the bonfire, I made pigs in a blanket with store-bought crescent rolls and miniature hot dogs. To take it up a notch, I served them with two bottled condiments and one homemade barbecue sauce. I also purchased honey-roasted peanuts and some chips and salsa and made a batch of my favorite marshmallow brownies and surprise mint cookies using store-bought cookie dough.
   
Keep it simple
    Instead of bringing a table and chairs outdoors, I asked my friend to back his truck in near the fire. We let the tailgate down, and I covered it with burlap. Who says tailgates are only for sitting? It made the perfect sideboard for my platters and the cooler, filled with seasonal drinks. You can also keep things simple by decorating with natural elements. Gather pinecones and berries or fall foliage and tuck them into a pretty basket for an instant and timeless look.
   
Use what you have
    That tent in your garage isn’t just for tailgating. Set it up in your backyard, wrap it with clear lights and use it as a covered area for serving drinks or food. For extra seating, don’t worry if everything doesn’t match — pull chairs from various rooms in your home. At my event, I asked everyone to bring a camping chair if they had one. The same goes for dishes. Mixing various patterns and textures usually results in an eclectic, comfortable look and feel.
   
    For a complete party menu, visit my food blog, Some Kinda Good. Good food and good company — that’s what it’s all about!

    Rebekah Faulk is a local food writer and blogger at Some Kinda Good, a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East coast restaurant reviews and Lowcountry-inspired recipes. Email her at SKGFoodBlog@gmail.com.

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