Try This Quick Entertaining Idea!

Here is a Make Life Special Success Secret for a Quick Entertaining Idea!

Think you don’t have time to entertain?  Well here is a quick tip for turning ordinary pasta into company fare.

You can make a simple pasta dish — like my Italian Penne Pasta Bake and then serve it up in individual casserole dishes.  This is an easy and impressive way to serve a simple dish.

Italian Penne Pasta in Individual Casserole with Lid

Individual casserole dishes don’t have to be expensive.  I like to scout our bargains at stores such as T J  Maxx , Family Dollar Stores, etc.  The casserole dishes pictured above were from HomeGoods.

Just bake the Italian Penne Pasta in the 9 X 13 casserole dish as directed. When you are ready to serve your guests, scoop out the pasta into the individual casseroles and place on a serving plate.  Add hot crusty bread and a salad and you have an easy meal for entertaining!  And…with a menu like this, you will be able to enjoy your guests and not be frazzled with dinner preparations.

Learning how to entertain successfully can be very rewarding!  I love to have friends gather in my kitchen for a simple but delicious meal and watch the conversation and laughter evolve during the evening.  These moments with friends and family have been the heart of my life so I always welcome the opportunity to help others gain the knowledge and confidence they need to entertain easily in their home. 

Here are Some Tips I’ve Learned Along The Way:

  1. Select recipes that you have made before and that can be done mostly ahead of time and then “finished” at the last minute.
  2. Have a plan with a schedule of what needs to be done to complete the meal on time.  Be sure to allow time to clean your kitchen along the way so your kitchen isn’t a disaster when your guests arrive.  I like to actually start a dinner party in my kitchen with drinks and appetizers.  This seems to get the party off to a casual start and puts everyone at ease.  
  3. Don’t lose sight of “WHY” you are entertaining!  Plan a menu that will be easy for you to accomplish and will allow you to enjoy the evening as much as your guests!
  4. Set a beautiful table!  Make your guest feel like royalty when they sit down for the meal.  Again, you don’t have to spend tons of money to accomplish this. All of the stores mentioned earlier in this post all offer inexpensive glassware, dinnerware and accessories to help make your table look fabulous!  

Want some other quick and easy pasta recipes?

Be sure to check these out!

One Pot Pasta

Easy Alfredo Sauce and Pasta

Scallops A’Moscato 

Crock Pot Spaghetti 


Remember….”Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”



Easy Entertaining Tips From Joan Lunden


Looking for some easy entertaining tips?  Here are Joan Lunden’s tips for success:

Here is the segment from my interview with Joan Lunden about entertaining in your home with ease .  Joan shared lots of great ideas!

Joan:  I love to entertain in my home.

Vickie:  I do too.

Joan:  And everything is at our house.  Everyone’s birthday, every holiday …you name it… it happens at our house.  And part of that is because I love to do it. Also, all of my aunts and my mother-in-law…everybody…they all come in the door and they say, “ I don’t know how you do this!  You WORK!….You’ve got little kids….and  how do you do this!”   “ How do you put together 5 tables for 36 people …they are all decorated! “   I can do this because I anticipate it.  I go out after a holiday when things are on sale … you know…just some Saturday when I don’t have to go to three soccer games.  Ha Ha! I look for those times and I go out and I buy little things .

I’ve got this incredibly organized pantry and I can pull out me little baskets .  If you told me I had to do a party tonight,  and you gave me a theme, I could do it!  But the only reason why I can do it and be so undaunted about it and have it be fun and not streeful is because I anticipate it and I make sure to go out and get all of these little things and I have all of them there and they are all labeled.

And also, if there is a holiday coming up, I’ll prepare my tables at least days in advance. …Sometimes a week or so in advance.  By doing it that way, I can do it when I’m not stressed out… I don’t get that last minute stress.  And, if I’m missing something, it gives me time.

If I have a dinner party on Friday night, I’ll start thinking about it on the weekend before.  And, as I come up to the day of the party, I go into my pantry and I pick out what I need.  If I’m making bread pudding for example, I get all of the ingredients out and see what I don’t have.  Do I want to make a Green Bean Casserole or do I want to make a Broccoli Puff?  Do I want to do Butternut Squash Soup ?  let me make sure I have all of the ingredients… and I’ll put them in little piles.  Again, that give me the chance to go out and get what I need ahead of time and not get caught short at the last minute.

So, I think that planning ahead  is the most important advice that I can give to people.  And, try to continue to make this whole thing fun.

Vickie:  I think you have touched on another important thing.  You know, people will come to my home when we have dinner parties or family events and marvel at my serving pieces or table settings.  But, you know, you don’t have to spend a lot of money.  I have special serving pieces, casserole dishes, etc, that I feature at different times of the year…but I did not spend a lot of money.  If you plan ahead, and you shop  after the holiday is over for next year…it’s not that expensive  to be able to entertain in style if you plan ahead.  That’s really the whole point.

Joan:  You walk into any big box store and you’ll see right after the holidays all the sales of all the Halloween stuff…then all of the Thanksgiving stuff…..and, you know, it’s a good idea to buy it then.  When you come home, go the next step – get a couple of organizer boxes and put it all there.  If its just here, there, and everywhere….its still hard to do.  But when you organize it, it realy does make entertaining  a breeze.  And, you’ll spend a lot more money going out to dinner, I think, than if you put together a dinner in your home.  You’ll never have the same atmosphere as when you get everybody together in your home.  And, if you have kids like me….I think it’s really important to get kids involved in the cooking process.


Part Three – Joan talks about her kids and living an organized life with a busy schedule.

Also, be sure to check out Loan Lunden’s website for lots of healthy living tips and recipes!


Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: