With the holiday season officially underway, there are two books that will become your best friends when it comes to planning and hosting a holiday gathering everyone will remember.

The cast of ABC’s hit show The Chew just made party planning a lot easier with its new book, The Chew: A Year of Celebrations. If you’re like me and have a Pinterest board dedicated to every holiday, this book is for you. Each chapter contains several different drink, meal and dessert recipes, as well as a craft/decoration idea to ensure a successful event for every occasion (and not just the usual suspects like Thanksgiving and Christmas ~ others include Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, football parties, baby/bridal showers, cookouts and more).

The five hosts ~ Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz, and Michael Symon ~ combine their expertise and individual styles to offer an eclectic mix of party fare. The best part is that the hosts understand the time and budget constraints of the average American, so most of the recipes are easy to make but look like they were made by a professional chef.


My copy of A Year of Celebrations is dog-eared and already much thumbed-through. I’ve already started trying recipes. Some of my favorites include: Bloody Mary Sliders, Cider Apple Sangria, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Pumpkin Pecan Pie, Spicy Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin, Rum Balls, and Beet and Potato Pancakes (yes, there is a Hanukkah section). Drooling yet?

One of the best ways to enhance the holiday experience is to pair a delicious meal with the perfect wine. Again, if you’re like me, I love to drink wine, but my knowledge doesn’t go much beyond the wine aisle at my local liquor store. However, that was before I read the newly released WineWise: Second Edition.

The updated edition of this James Beard Award-winning book is an essential addition to your library. Everything you have ever wanted to know about wine ~ and even some things you didn’t think you needed to know ~ can be found in this book. The authors, longtime wine educators at The Culinary Institute of America, use a practical approach to educating readers on the latest and greatest developments in the winemaking industry. They start simple by teaching readers the basics of grapes, different methods of winemaking and how to read a label (there really is a science to it). From there, they dissect each leading winemaking country and break down the regions where wine is made, offering recommendations of their favorite wines as they go along (and most of them won’t break the bank).

This book also includes lessons on how to pair wines with certain foods. It isn’t always as simple as white wine pairs well with fish and red wine pairs well with beef, so before heading out or hosting your next holiday dinner, consult the WineWise experts for which wine will go best with your meal (broken down by cuisine and country).

Both of these books can be found at amazon.com.

By Kimberly Dunbar