Holiday Entertaining with Food Network Star, Martie Duncan

Martie Duncan

Nationally renowned party expert shares how to create a memorable holiday celebration!

Martie is one of those people who makes entertaining look and feel effortless. Easy, fun, and memorable are all words she uses to describe her party planning philosophy. She has helped plan everything from celebrity weddings to casual tailgates, big charity events and small backyard picnics.

Martie was a finalist on Season 8 of "Food Network Star!"  Representing the great state of Alabama and home cooks everywhere, Martie competed on Alton Brown's team for her own Food Network show.

What is the most important part of any holiday party?

National Honey BoardIt’s the food, of course. Every party begins with great food, and I have got a secret weapon for you. It’s Honey.  I love it because it’s an all-natural and versatile ingredient.  It’s great for both sweet and savory dishes. One of my favorites is Honey Whiskey Clove-Glazed Ham. Just mix honey, bourbon and cloves together and brush it on top of a pre-cooked, spiral cut ham. Then pop it in the oven until the ham is golden brown. The honey helps lock in moisture and gives the ham a beautiful caramelized coating. Another great recipe is Honey Cups with Brie, Walnuts and Cranberries. They are a fantastic way to kick-off a great holiday party. Delicious!

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Any suggestions for holiday beverages?

Keurig logoI love to have a cappuccino or latte to end a party or a great meal, but I know it can be tough to create them at home. The new Keurig Rivo Cappuccino & Latte System allows you to simply craft a delicious Lavazza espresso as well as cappuccinos and lattes with any type of fresh milk.  At your holiday gatherings, it’s so nice to be able to offer each guest a delicious hot beverage made just for them and this system allows you to do that — plus, your guests can join in on the fun!  With the Keurig Rivo System, you can create all kinds of delicious coffeehouse-style beverages with the simplicity Keurig is known for.

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What are some good ways to make your guests feel welcome?

Frei Brothers ReserveWhen I host a holiday party, I like to greet guests with a glass of wine so people will feel welcome. I like Frei Brothers Reserve; an award-winning winery from Sonoma County in California that proves quality and sustainability can go hand-in-hand.

For every acre of land they plant in vineyards, Frei Brothers sets aside one acre to be preserved as natural wildlife habitat as part of their 50/50 give back program. Plus, their eco-friendly bottles use 15% less glass than average bottle. These award-winning wines have also consistently scored 90 points or above in just the last five years.  Best of all, these wines are delicious and affordable with prices ranging from $17 to $23 a bottle.

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What is number one secret for planning a great party?

My secret is to not take it all too seriously and keep it simple. Don’t tackle more than you can manage; make one delicious recipe and buy or assemble the rest.

Another secret to planning a great party is the decorations. Use old photos of past holidays as part of your decorations or for place cards at the table – this will inspire lively conversation and countless stories of days gone by.  Creative elements like these are fun and don’t take a lot of effort. Most importantly, have fun at your own party. The idea is to create memories that last long after your guests go home.

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