Photo by Matt Harrington

From menu planning to decorations, there’s a lot that goes into hosting a party. Whether you’re whipping up a feast for a crowd or hosting an intimate gathering, holiday entertaining can be stressful — but it shouldn’t be.

Photo by Matt Harrington

We dished with Tara Bench, the food stylist behind Tara Teaspoon, for tips on how to put the fun back into baking.

Playful prep
Creativity can spark anywhere, especially if your surroundings are inspiring. Fill your kitchen with colors and style that reflect who you are and put a smile on your face.


Create a whimsical kitchen aesthetic with a combination of pastel hues and baking items that take on a bit of a retro feel.


Photo by Matt Harrington

Rather than keeping your bakeware hidden in the cupboard, use a bar cart to show it all off — fashionable and functional.


Photo by Matt Harrington

Or for the gourmet chef in you, pair copper kitchenware with marble utensil holders and cutting boards for a more epicurean look.


To help ease the stress before guests arrive, set up your serving space ahead of time.

“I choose my tablecloth, serving dishes and accents before I make the food,” says Tara. “Then I know my table looks great and my food can look its best because it isn’t hanging around after baking, waiting for me to set up.”

Oven to table
One of the many upsides to attractive cookware? They can double as serving dishes, too.


Keep it simple by opting for products that can readily go from the kitchen to the table. Use cutting boards as platters or colanders as serving bowls—they’ll be as charming on the table as they are in your kitchen.


Add a few personal touches, like a bouquet of your favorite herbs or fresh greenery for a simple, festive feel. Choose a fun mix of holiday linens, and maybe some sentimental pieces, to tie it all together.

Did we mention, versatile cookware means less cleaning up afterwards?

Have a signature recipe
As you prepare for all of your holiday festivities this season, keep a favorite recipe on hand that you know will be a crowd-pleaser. There’s no need to worry when your taste buds are happy!


Photo by Matt Harrington

May we suggest these apple spice cupcakes?

Apple Spice Cupcakes
Courtesy of Taste Buds Kitchen

-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-2 tsp. baking powder
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-2 tsp. salt
-1/2 cup butter
-2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-2 tsp. vanilla
-4 cups shredded apple; squeeze out juice before adding
-2 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl, set aside.

3. Put butter and sugar into bowl, mix until fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla and apples.

4. Add flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as needed until just combined.

5. Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway.

6. Bake until tops are springy to the touch, about 15-20 minutes.

7. Transfer to a wire rack, let cool completely.

8. Decorate with your favorite frosting.

At HomeGoods, there’s something for every kitchen, so that your guests aren’t the only ones who have fun when you entertain.

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