March 3, 2024

Special Touches for an Unforgettable Meal

Your holiday entertaining hot list
By Lynda Wheatley | Dec. 5, 2020

Whether you’re sending dinner to someone you love, hosting an intimate with your immediate, or supping alone, you should celebrate the occasion with as much gusto as you’ve done in years past. Gone is the hustle and bustle, the many obligations to go to and fro. This season, we’re all about staying in, scaling down, and seizing the moment for exactly what it is: an opportunity to forgo those long-established grand family traditions — just this once — for an itty-bitty but unforgettable evening with your nearest dearest. Here, some small but special touches to make it magical. 

Unchained Melody
There’s a reason giant hams and turkeys are the hallmark of holiday meals: One feeds many, many guests. But with a smaller guest list, you can afford to top your table with something far more fun than a giant hunk of meat. These Robin Reed Christmas Crackers aren’t edible, but they do contain a paper crown (OK, a folded tissue party hat), a good old British riddle, a wrap of printed Christmas carols, and a set of musical horns so you and your merry band of guests can make some beautiful music (or at least fun memories) round the table. $19.95 for a set of eight 12-inch English crackers. We found them through Cutler’s in Petoskey: buy them at

Best Buzz Ever
The best thing to happen to the Christmas table since Uncle Frank finally quit asking why you’re not married yet, these Social Distance Zappers give any close talker in your crew 4.5 volts of good reason to back the heck up. $9.99 each. Available through Gaylord’s Old Spud Warehouse.

Ta-ta, Tupperware
Playing it safe and not seeing Grandma for the holidays this year? You can still make it as special as ever. Simply bake up one of her famous casseroles so she doesn’t have to, then tote it on over in a 9-by-13-inch aluminum cake pan you can customize, and she can keep. (Bonus: She’ll never lose a pan to a potluck party again.) Choose from black, red, navy, copper, or robin’s egg blue, and the staff at The Robin’s Nest — the Kingsley-based home to handmade, refurbished, and up-cycled goods — will guide you through dozens of design options to help you personalize it perfectly. $45 plus shipping; local pickup is free. Call (231) 883-2002 or DM "RobinsNestMI" via Facebook to order.

Beg, Borrow — It’s a Steal
Were you aware that a wedding is not required for hosting an elegantly designed dinner table? Turns out, you don’t need a lot of money, your own dishware, or even any design skills. You can simply dial up the experts at 307 Events in Traverse City and choose one of their curated design packages or lean heavily on their skills (and immense dinnerware inventory) to create one of your own. Pricing starts at $85 for a 6-person table, which includes place settings and a centerpiece, plus — Christmas miracle! — they do the dishes and laundry. Email or visit

Warm, Fuzzy, Merry & Bright
So maybe you’re swearing off all human contact and eating your holiday meal over the sink. We fully support this decision — if you stand equally firm atop on one of these bright and beautiful woven 2-by-3-foot area rugs we found at Onekama’s MacBeth & Co., a veritable treasure trove of knick-knacks, home decor, tableware, and toys no small-town gift-shopper should miss. $30. Open weekends until Christmas. 


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