Annette Joseph: Hi! I am Annette Joseph and I am a prop and food stylist. I am going to be showing you today how to create a fantastic holiday party on a budget. We are going to talk a little bit about all the elements that will make your holiday party fantastic and cost-effective. First of all, I love to use store-bought items. There are lots of really great low-cost stores around that have fantastic items for sale. So I think getting prepared things like hummus is a great idea. I serve them with vegetables, prepackaged vegetables, and it's great to get things that are already washed, because it's going to make it a lot easier, and it's also going to make it a lot simpler to put together your party. The thing that we want to do is, we not only want to make it low cost, low budget, but we want to make it taste good, and we also want to make it really easy. I am all about easy. The other thing that I really like to get is Bruschetta, which is something that we would serve with a loaf of bread. A baguette sliced up in a wonderful basket; really easy for all of your guests to make themselves. Or else, you go the other route, cut up all the bread, and then individually put on the Bruschetta on top. Bruschetta is just sort of a really tomato, garlicky, yummy mixture that you put top of a toasted bread or a cracker. Another thing I really love as I love an olive tapenade, and olive tapenades are available everywhere. They are basically a wonderful mixture of all different types of olives, and olive oil. They usually have maybe a little bit of anchovy in them. Sometimes they have just olive oil in them, sometimes they have garlic or onion and also a lovely thing to just put on a cracker. And that I would put again in a great dish, with a wonderful spreader, with a bunch of cracker. I love olive, so I usually get a couple different kinds and put those out as well. It's always nice to get maybe some sort of salami. These are very affordable nowadays ad they are very, very delicious. Our packaged crackers are fine, go for it; because to me, things can taste great, but it really is all about guests and about mingling. So don't stress yourself out about making a lot of homemade things, although I do like homemade things. So today, I am going to show you how to make a delicious stuffed baked brie and a deconstructed cannoli, one of my favorite things. All these items are perfect to put on the buffet. They are easy to put out, they are easy to eat and they are very inviting to your guests and all the flavors go together, which is also a very important point.
When you are putting together a buffet table, think about all the different textures and flavors. Make sure that there is something for every guest. In other words, if there are vegetarians in the crowd, tune into that. If there are people that love to eat lots of meat, tune into that. So think about your guests and what they like to eat, because you are there to please them. Having said that, I always buy away too much stuff, and since we are on a budget, let's think a little bit about how many people are going to come, how many people have RSVPed, how many extra people you expect, and then let's buy accordingly. I really think for a crowd of 10 people, all of this that you see in front of you is more than enough. I would probably bake two bries. I would have one jar to two jars of each of these. This hummus is plenty. It always seems like it's not enough; it's plenty. I would literally do two packages of vegetables of each kind, maybe three to four packages of vegetables. And I think it's just really important to have enough food, not too much food, because again, we are on a budget. I mean when food is gone and your table is empty it's okay, don't feel like you have to run and replenish it, because people have had enough. So I think it's really important to think about textures on the table. It's important to be budget-minded, so don't overbuy, and really think about what your guest see. That's really, really important, because if you have guest coming in and they are not into Mediterranean food, by all means, don't put out a Mediterranean buffet. I am a strong proponent of groceries for flowers, as you know. So make sure to get those as well, and enjoy your party, that's the most important thing. Coming up next, I am going to go show you how to make this delicious and beautiful baked brie.