Los Angeles caterer Kathleen Schaffer has three easy ways to keep your calm and carry on with holiday entertaining.

Kathleen Schaffer tabletop
Lindley Rust

Even in their frenzied, festivity-filled glory, the holidays can sometimes test our sanity. Kathleen Schaffer, Los Angeles-based caterer and event planner, can help you create an oasis of calm at your holiday table. We’ve got her tips for surviving the holidays with grace and style, from appetizers to aperitifs to leftovers. Here’s to staying thankful, merry and bright, all season long.

Set Up a Self-Serve Tartine Station  

Dave Fenton

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Make appetizers a no-brainer with a pretty serve-yourself tartine station. I like to prep all my fixings in advance, and the rest is just assembly. Picky guests can pick and choose from a gourmet spread. 

Here’s how to do it 

Start with excellent bread from a great local baker and cut it into small triangles. Brush bread with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toast in the oven until golden-brown. 

I like to display toasts in a bowl or basket and surround them with small bowls of toppings — anything like diced tomatoes, guacamole, basil pesto, balsamic glaze, apricot jam, burrata, manchego, figs, pistachios, hazelnuts, candied walnuts, Maldon Salt, red pepper flakes, chopped cilantro, and basil leaves. 

Make the Most of Your Leftovers 

If there’s anything better than Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the savory leftovers. My family’s favorite tradition involves taking leftover turkey and making grilled Reuben sandwiches. 

Here’s how to make it

Slice fresh rye bread — my favorite is from Fred’s in Los Angeles — and smear with Russian dressing (if you want to make your own, ketchup, mayo, Dijon and Wickles spicy pickle relish make a great Russian dressing).

Slice and add Swiss cheese and layer on thinly-sliced leftover turkey. Top with just enough sauerkraut.

Gently sauté in butter until golden brown and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

A No-Fuss Cocktail 

Kathleen Schaffer

Elevate your beverage game with a festive spritz. I make this crowd-pleasing citrus-infused spritz every year––it’s a hit. 

Here’s how to “Mull It Over”: 

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Add 1.5 oz vodka, 3/4 oz mulled wine syrup (see below for recipe), 3/4 oz lemon juice, a double splash of orange bitters, 4 oz sparkling wine, and a blood orange coin garnish.

To make the mulled wine syrup:

Combine 2 bottles (750ml each) of red wine, 2 cups apple cider, 1/4 cup honey, 2 cinnamon sticks, 8 cloves, 4 star anises and 3 oranges (zest and juice) in a pot. Bring to a simmer, reducing by two-thirds. Add 1 quart of simple syrup to the mulled wine. Now you’re ready to use your mulled wine syrup for the spritz!

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