Hi Friends! Iā€™m Natalie Mason. I live in Charleston, SC and I am mom to Sterling 12 , Frances Moon 8 and our mini golden doodle Dolly.



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My Entertaining Essentials

Jun 5, 2012

Having a toddler means that we entertain at our house alot.  It is easy to put our little one to bed and then have friends over for happy hour.   Sterling is at the age where he is not fun to take out to restaurants.  All he wants to do is run around and pour salt and pepper all the table.  I can’t ever really relax so it is much easier to entertain at home sometimes.   I have a few essentials that I always keep on hand in the fridge for quick or last minute entertaining purposes.  If you stock up on these things during your regular grocery store visit you will always be prepared for invited or uninvited guests!  Plus who doesn’t like tasty snacks and booze sitting around their house?

The most important thing in my opinion is alcohol.  Duh.  That is what happy hour revolves around.  My three favorite wines that I always keep in on hand are:




All three wines are under $15 and always crowd pleasers. I buy FoxGlove at our local ABC store (on Harborview) and you can find the Chalk Hill and B.R. Cohn at Costco.  If you are looking for a great bubbly to have on hand I highly recommend Contempo Prosecco.  It is light and refreshing and not too sweet.  Most grocery stores carry the Contempo line.


My favorite go-to appetizer is a cheese tray.  I like to always have three different varieties of cheese on hand.  Usually an Aged Gouda, Soft Brie/Goat Cheese, and a white Cheddar.

My favorites are:  A Dutch Masterpiece aged Gouda, KerryGold White Cheddar, Triple Creme Goat Brie.

In addition to the three cheeses,  I always put out a dish with Kalamata Olives and Pickled Okra.   If I have time I like to buy fresh olives from the case but I usually keep a jar on hand for times when I can’t stop at the store.

I like to serve one meat with the cheese, either Pepperoni or Salami.    Harris Teeter has some great pre-sliced meats right under the deli meat case.  They are vacuum sealed and really quite tasty.

Add a few crackers and you have the perfect, easy to throw together appetizer. Currently I am loving the 34 degrees Crispbread Crackers.  They are so thin and super crispy and pair great with cheese.  I buy these in bulk at Costco but Earthfare carries them as well.


This is a tray I threw together last minute a few weeks ago with what I had on hand.  See, it pays to keep these few things stocked up in your house for unexpected guests.

Two other staples I also always keep on hand are Sabra Hummus and Palmetto Pimento Cheese.  Both are my favorite snacks and easy to toss in a dish and serve with crackers for guests.  I always put the hummus in a dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika- it makes it look fancy!

Keeping a few simple things on hand makes your entertaining life much easier!  So sit back enjoy that wine and don’t stress about uninvited guests!

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  1. Ooooooh I am loving this meat and cheese array!! So hungry I could take all of that down right now. So sad. When do I come over????

  2. Love that Chalk Hill white wine– and it's not a party in my book unless there is hummus! Mmm.

  3. It's only 7:30am and I seriously could eat all that right now…including the wine. Yum!

  4. I just picked up that last hummus yesterday from sams. delish! Now seriously, we need some sort of outdoor summer cocktail hour asap.

  5. palmetto pimento cheese is the best. It's the reason I have my Costco membership! Ha!

  6. Jill says:

    perfect, I'll be over about 5ish!!

  7. Great post girl! I'm all about having things on hand as well since I'm in the same situation as you. Three under age 6 so I'm not a fan of going out to eat with them right now šŸ™‚ If you have time, I'd love for you to stop by my post today on the high low dress fashion link up!

  8. Keely says:

    Great ideas! Love grapes too with my cheese/ meat tray!

  9. I always love your wine suggestions – and I am a big fan of Palmetto pimento cheese…we have it here in Dallas too and it is delish!

  10. Gosh, you are a girl after my own heart! This all looks and sounds fab. Seriously, why are we not neighbors???

  11. Well now I know I can just pop by unannounced and you can feed me well šŸ™‚

  12. loving the meat and cheese platter! We have people over often too, just easier! šŸ˜‰


  13. Love all your entertaining essentials!!! I need to stock up!!! Pickled okra may be my favorite!!!

  14. megan says:

    Great tips! I always have the Palmetto jalepeno pimento cheese on hand just for Cameron and myself! šŸ™‚

  15. Oh I always love trying new wine recommendations. And I drink Prosecco all the time. I'll have to check that one out! My current fav is Cupcake Prosecco.

  16. I serve almost the same thing when I have guests over. I always have the cheese on hand but have to buy the meat and crackers. Yum!

  17. Leslie says:

    Love your tips! Thanks for sharing. šŸ™‚

  18. I LOVE the roasted red pepper Sabra hummus, but it is so hard to find!! You should totally host a link up so people can share what they use for quick apps and what value wine they love šŸ™‚

  19. Courtney says:

    LOVE pickled Okra! I'm actually attempting to make my own tonight!

  20. You can never go wrong with cheese….love your blog. I'm your newest follower! xoxo

  21. That pimento cheese is my absolute favorite!

  22. I got married at the BR Cohn winery and we always grab bottles at Trader Joe's when we feel like celebrating. So tasty!

  23. Alexa says:

    Ooh I'm going to have to check out that proseco! One of my favorite drinks!

  24. Viviana says:

    Love this!!! We like to entertain as well and always have a grand cheese plate!

  25. Taylor says:

    great post – I always love when I go to someones house and they have cheese plates, but for some reason I always just make my fattening (yet yummy) mayo based dips. I need to start having cheese + fruit more often!


  26. Christina says:

    those crackers really are the best. i NEED that okra. geez.

  27. YUM!!!! I'm coming over!! I'd be calling you at least once a week asking if you wanted to get together…at your house! šŸ™‚

  28. Haha yes, I swear if you want to be really mean to me these days, invite me to a restaurant! Matthew takes the experience to a whole new level!

  29. Dina says:

    Perfect combo! And have you tried the marinated cheese recipe that is floating around out there? It's to die for, let me know if you want it!

  30. Kyle says:

    Love this post on your entertaining essentials. I think I need to take pictures of wine bottles that I enjoy while out at dinner, so I can remeber for the future. You always seem to have great picks. Have you tried Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc? It is my favorite.

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