Tech Tools and Holiday Entertaining

07 Nov 2009, Posted by Jennifer Iannolo in Uncategorized

We knew it was coming. In October it seemed far off in the distance, so we put it out of our minds. Now we look at the calendar and start to freak out inside…just a little bit.

The holiday season is upon us, so it’s time to get organized for the revelry ahead. Given that a normal holiday gathering with my immediate family means 20-25 guests, we’ve got this thing down to a science. We also have an industrial meat slicer, so I realize that we are a bit…unusual. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pull this off, too.

I joined Marsha Collier and Mark Cohen on KTRB Radio in San Francisco today to talk about tech tools to help manage the chaos, and wanted to give you an expanded list here as a handy reference tool.

You’ve heard me say it before, but a little Type A goes a long way. Get it out of your head and on to paper (or your PDA/iPhone/latest gadget). We’ve created a whole section on Culinary Media Network to help you get started, from the number of guests to the style of your party.

I also discovered an amazing planning resource whose bells and whistles go far deeper than I imagined. You’ve likely received an invitation from eVite…but did you know what else is under the hood? Their tools enable everything from managing your guest list to creating a detailed timeline and checklist. They even have decor suggestions.

Set up a Google calendar for yourself with the title “Thanksgiving” or “Holidays,” and you can have e-mail reminders sent right to your inbox each day. You can also sync it to your other calendars so your tasks are like any other items on your to-do list. There are lots of tools online for this, so choose the one you like best, preferably one that is already part of your routine. If your form of organization and planning includes Post-It notes all over your desk, hey, I won’t judge.

If you need menu ideas, there is no shortage of resources online for finding recipes, from our full recipe list to sites like allrecipes and Epicurious. If you would rather have a book in your hands, there is still time to order The Gilded Fork: Entertaining at Home to have at your disposal for menu ideas.


Believe it or not, I don’t particularly enjoy grocery shopping, particularly if I’m feeling rushed. Thankfully there are now plenty of online delivery services to take care of that piece for you. The downside? If you like fondling your vegetables (the part I actually enjoy), the control freak in you will have to let go and accept that someone else will be picking out your potatoes. If you’re on the east coast or in Chicago, check out PeaPod (or your local supermarket’s web site). West coasters can take a look at Safeway, which has created a whole Thanksgiving section just for you.

I’m not a big fan of the frozen bowling balls known as supermarket turkeys, but use them when necessary. If you prefer something a little tastier, here are some options:

  • D’Artagnan: Gorgeous fresh or frozen turkeys that are delivered to your door, with 14-16 lb frozen turkeys for $65.
  • Lobels: An NYC staple for Thanksgiving, they ship fresh organic and free-range turkeys for $75 and up

Now this is a favorite, and not just because it was started by some friends of mine. Called the “Netflix of wine,” WineQ is a wine-delivery service that lets you queue up your favorites, start your own wine club, and discover what your friends are drinking.

Hostess Gifts:
If you are the lucky recipient of an invitation to a holiday party, please remember good etiquette and bring along a gift for your host. He or she is working very hard to entertain you, so a little reward is in order.

We’ve got some lovely gift ideas in the Gilded Fork Boutique, especially our Tondo flavored vinegars, so you can peruse gift options there, or at some other favorites including Dean & Deluca, Harry and David, or iGourmet.

If you want to dress *yourself* up a little, take a look at what The Hip Hostess has on display. She also features some gorgeous home decor finds.

But What If I Can’t Cook?!
Ah, the age-old dilemma. Guess what? There are solutions for that, too. Now, you could make a restaurant reservation, but I’m a huge proponent of welcoming people into my actual home for the holidays. The good news is that we have an entire country full of personal chefs, and you can find them all on the U.S. Personal Chef Association web site. Chef Mark is right here in NYC, so don’t forget to see his offerings at

Most importantly, remember to take deep breaths and not to panic. Worst-case scenario, open another bottle of wine and pour some more cocktails. It will all be just fine.