From formal sit down dinners to stand-up buffets, many of us will be either hosting or attending the many celebrations that will occur between now and New Year's Day. If you are having a gathering at your house, you know there's a lot to consider - like how much you have to spend, and what fabulous thing you can serve with the money you have. While standing rib roasts might grace the lace-covered tables of some folks in the mood to splurge, others will find thrifty chicken a worthy alternative as it counters the bravado of beef with the lusciousness of a velvety-sauced lattice-topped pie. Should you be in a position where your expected guests and even family, won't touch either chicken, or beef, and seafood just isn't in the budget, there is always pasta to consider. Macaroni and cheese could be a good choice, especially for the kids in the crowd who thought macaroni and cheese only came out of a box. The little ones will love you for making "Our Best Macaroni and Cheese," another keeper recipe from Pat Branning's "Shrimp, Collards & Grits," and so will a whole lot of the grownups. Once you decide on the entrees, the rest will fall into place. So, let's make this part one of the Christmas food countdown, to be followed by a next week's part two on beverages and after that part three on desserts. As for the starters - the dips, the spreads, the cheese balls and the like, ask your guests if they wouldn't mind bringing one along - and maybe a copy of the recipe for sharing, too.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.