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Good Times Come in Sundry Packages

After a restrictive holiday season last year most people were looking forward to a return to revelry in 2021, but plans to celebrate are as variable as the weather. Some people will go ahead and party hearty; others prefer small gatherings. Many want to show off their new cooking skills; others opt for the laid-back style of a potluck. Nostalgic for something grandma made, the full traditional spread will be the priority for some; others want to break free.



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Picture yourself in a proper English tearoom, marking the holiday with an afternoon cream tea or full turkey dinner. Sparta House provides eat-in, take-out or delivery options. You can do tea for two, a staff party, or a family celebration surrounded by an international teapot collection in an historical building.

If you’re dreaming of a Dickensian holiday, this British tearoom may just hit the spot. “I decorate the tearoom for Christmas,” says Norma Roberts, co-owner with her husband Ken. “I do go a little mad on the decorations.

I think it’s an English thing.” The menu is traditional, ranging from pastries, scones and sandwiches to high tea with pot pies, quiche and scouse (a stew).

For the holidays, Roberts stays the course with turkey, gravy, stuffing and dessert. “You can pick up or we offer local delivery, and you can set it up at home,” she says.

“We have quite a few customers who feel this is like a second home. I’ve noticed people want to sit and have a visit more now – enjoy their friends’ company.”

"You can't go wrong with rose. Ever. A good rose drinks like a red at room temperature and like white when chilled. It's something that can pair across the board."


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Slip away for a meal or a weekend to Port Stanley. “We have very cozy suites,” says Jean Vedova, owner of Kettle Creek Inn. Large living rooms with fireplaces and balconies, queen-sized beds and two-person whirlpool tubs can wash away the stress.

There are plenty of culinary temptations as well, says Vedova. The menu features local produce and Lake Erie fish. “Everything is done from scratch. Fish dishes, steak, burgers, pizza – we’re all over the road map with what we cover.”

One of two dining rooms is completely private for those who want an intimate gathering without all the fuss at home. The parlour holds 10, and the English pub offers a casual setting.

“This village has magic at all times. You can walk on the beach or explore the stores. You can feel safe about escaping.” Vedova says there is something for all holiday gatherings.

Or you can curl up with a good book by the fire and recharge. “One day is not enough. You have to calm down, unwind.”

Celebrate the season with a romantic getaway for two, a stress-free family dinner or a friends’ weekend.


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Food analysts say prepared food is a more important component to entertaining than ever. Hosts are looking for interesting specialty products – food and beverages to please the palate, create conversation and save time.

“When it comes to holiday entertaining (with wine), my suggestion is to buy a little extra,” says Jamie Quai, co-owner of Quai du Vin Estate Winery, referring to party wines. And don’t just buy your favourites.

“Everyone assumes their tastes are the average.” He recommends a broad selection and open several bottles. “Open one more bottle than people right at the beginning.

It gets the conversation going: "Have you tried…?” He’s not a fan of BYOB because the host knows the menu best and can choose accordingly.

“You can’t go wrong with rosé. Ever. A good rosé drinks like a red at room temperature and like white when chilled. It’s something that can pair across the board.”

Quai du Vin’s signature reds and whites are blends that offer more complexity, making them partners with more flavours.

“People are trading up in quality and price spectrum. They're not travelling, so they're looking for affordable luxuries," says Quai, adding “Don't stress about it. Everyone wants to throw a great party. Be responsible.”