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Easy Entertaining Ideas for the Holidays + Olive Tapenade Recipe

Put your mind at ease this Christmas season with these quick and easy entertaining ideas, including a simple recipe for delicious olive tapenade.

Olive Tapenade and Bread on Rustic Wood Board

Thank you to Uncommon Goods for collaborating on today’s post and helping me share some of our favourite holiday entertaining ideas. As always, opinions are 100% my own.

Most of us lead busy lives (particularly around the holidays), making it far too easy to get wrapped up in the “small stuff” (shopping, decorating, baking and everything else) that goes along with Christmas. I tend to immerse myself in all the season has to offer, but the one thing I felt I was missing out on so many years was sharing some good cheer with our nearby family and friends.

If the house wasn’t decorated perfectly or I hadn’t met my quota of baked goods tucked away in the freezer (oh my!), or too much stuff was still on “the list,” I’d simply dismiss the idea of having guests over before Christmas. So silly!

I think what turned the tables for me was taking the whole idea of entertaining down a few notches from where I had built it up in my head. I realized I had made it way too complicated, and all we needed was great conversation and interaction with the people we adored.

That meant no fancy appetizers or cocktails (unless I was feeling inspired and ambitious), just honest-to-goodness simple food and drinks that required little preparation but held their own on taste and style. Are you with me?

Olive Tapenade on Wood Serving Board with Bread

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Easy Holiday Entertaining Ideas

What I’m talking about is so easy and simple that you can pull it off in a moment’s notice! All it requires is having the right supplies, tools and recipes beforehand.

Stock Up

To start, I suggest stocking your pantry and fridge with a few essentials. The list of food items we always like to have on hand during the holiday season is:

  • olives
  • cheese
  • grapes
  • dried figs and date
  • nuts
  • savoury jam
  • cured meats
  • artisinal bread and crisps

Occasionally, I purchase jarred tapenade or antipasto, but it’s super easy to throw your own together (we’ll get to that later).

For drinks, we stock our beverage fridge with:

  • wine
  • prosecco
  • beer
  • soda water
  • cranberry juice

We also have lemon and limes, as well as a few types of hard liquor. I find that most people are flexible when it comes to beverages, so don’t worry about having everything under the moon!


Once your kitchen and bar are stocked, it’s time to make sure you have beautiful serveware. I find that how you display your food is just as important as what’s being served. We all eat with our eyes first and arranging simple food on a wood serving board is so chic!

Olive Tapenade Served on Breadboard

Another idea for presenting food is using a slate cheese board where you can write the names of each variety of cheese with soapstone chalk. It literally takes minutes to throw together, but gives the personal touch your guests will appreciate.

Slate Cheese Server with Soapstone Chalk

Having the right utensils, like this beautiful cheese knife and slicer set, make serving a whole lot easier.

Cheese Knife and Slicer

And, of course, appetizer plates and/or napkins for each of your guests is a must. I absolutely adore these love letter napkins!

Love Letter Napkins


Now that the food is taken care of, it’s time to think about barware. Do you have good quality wine and cocktail glasses?

Stemless Crackle Wine Glasses
Optimist Pessimist Cocktail Glasses

Do you have the right bar tools like a wine opener or, perhaps, this “Bar10der” gadget that takes care of it all? Makes a great gift too!

Bar10der Gadget

Keep in mind that none of these supplies need to be complicated or expensive. You could even mix a few new items with some thrift shop finds, or collect what you need over time.

Now for the easy appetizer recipe I mentioned earlier…

How to Make Olive Tapenade


  • green pitted olives
  • pitted kalamata olives
  • almonds
  • capers
  • lemon zest and juice
  • garlic powder
  • pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

The full list of ingredient measurements and instructions are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.


Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the desired consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

We like to eat this tapenade on bread or crackers with a layer of cream cheese or goat’s cheese.

How to Make Olive Tapenade in a Food Processor

Hostess Gifts

How about taking a jar of tapenade with you to your next party? If you’re pressed for time, I suggest looking at these Gifts for Her ideas as possible hostess gifts.

You can find out more about the kitchen and bar items I’ve suggested for holiday entertaining at the Uncommon Goods website. If you’re looking for creative products made with quality and sustainability in mind, you’re in for a real treat!

You can also read about the company’s dedication to product designers and artists, handmade goods, giving back programs and environmental causes. Now that’s the type of place I like to shop at! You?

More Holiday Appetizer Ideas

Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade and Bread on Rustic Board
Whip up this easy and delicious olive tapenade for the holiday season!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Serving Size 4


  • ½  cup green pitted olives
  • ¼  cup pitted kalamata olives
  • ¼  cup almonds
  • ½  teaspoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½  tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼  teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼  teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  • Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the desired consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


  • We like to eat this tapenade on bread or crackers with a layer of cream cheese or goat’s cheese.

Tell me: Are you an avid entertainer or do you tend to put it off? When you do host a get-together, what’s your go-to food or drink item that’s easy? Share your easy entertaining ideas in the comments below!

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Happy entertaining!

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


  1. Oh Shauna – that olive tapenade recipe looks soooo good. I’m going to make this for sure!! I liked your entertaining picks too, those napkins are too cute and I like the cheese tray idea – that’s a good one! Thanks Shauna!!

  2. I grew up with a mother who entertained “effortlessly” but stressed beforehand about everything. Entertaining has never been easy for me, but my hubby loves it. So I’m getting better, and trying to worry less about the details no one notices (but us!) 
    Great recipe, and some really good tips. Thanks for inspiring!

    1. We used to entertain a lot, but now it seems like we’re both so busy. It’s so important to make the time. Once you “let go” of the fact that everything needs to be perfect, you’ll do it!

  3. Ohh that tapenade sounds delish, thanks for sharing the recipe.  And I so agree it doesn’t have to be perfect, just do it!

  4. Great ideas to make the Holiday Season a lot simpler and able to spend more time with ones guests
    Thanks for sharing

  5. This looks so good, Shauna! I love all the ideas you’ve shared, and can’t decide which is my favorite! The napkins are really awesome, but the optimist/pessimist glasses are just so much fun!

  6. OH I love tapenade – it’s so great served with cheeses and crackers!  And I agree, get togethers are so much better when we take away the stress of trying to make everything so fancy!

    P.S.  How great are those love letter napkins?!

  7. I love Uncommon Goods – it’s such a fun shop! You’ve picked some gorgeous pieces, and I love that bread board – it’s gorgeous! 

  8. Can’t go wrong with cheese and bread -totally agree with you there.  I love the napkins, too, they’re so sweet.

  9. I love tapenade and your recipe looks scrumptious! I do one that is made with cream cheese that is delicious, it adds another level. 
    Debbie :)

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