We are often asked for our advice on entertaining during the holidays. Recently, A Thyme to Cook Founder and President, Linda Sample, took some time to discuss her thoughts. Here is the second in the series of Holiday entertaining season tips

You decided you are going to have a party and have narrowed down the guest list. You looked at your available space and all the logistics. Now you have some serious decisions to make! As with all these tips, I will keep reminding you to Keep It Simple! Plan on serving something tried and true that is also reflection of yourself. This is the season for comfort and is NOT the time to go playing with pork belly or that 45 step dish you saw on the cooking show last week.

Let’s talk guests and menu…


Although it may seem arbitrary – this is HUGE, as this will dictate the amount, style and quantity of your menu. A cocktail party from 5pm-8pm implies that you plan on serving enough food to equate a meal and do not expect guests to go on to dinner when they leave your home.

You might want to consider a few stationary items, a few hors d’oeuvres (maybe get someone to assist you so you don’t have to leave your guests – Keep It Simple) and perhaps, bring out something a little heartier around 6:30pm or so. You also may want to set out a few holiday cookies for a sweet send-off before guests head back out into the cold.

If you decide on an earlier 5pm-7pm soiree – this is what I would call a traditional, light, cocktail party. With a few nibbles and bites, this short gathering is more social and promotes mingling; but just not for too long!


You can plan on scattered (or passed) hors d’oeuvres and a few stationary items such as; cheese, veggies and spreads (flavored hummus is still very popular!), a crock pot of a great hot curried apple squash soup, tiny sandwiches, etc. This 2-hour time frame assumes that guests will come for a short time, and then leave for dinner afterwards. They can also get some sweets at the door.

Now, a party from 6pm-8pm is ambiguous and confusing and could mean any of the above, so you need to be clear on your intentions and expectations. It is just a 2-hour gathering, but is right in the middle of dinner time, so it can be anyone’s guess. Not highly recommended, unless you want to generate more stress!

A “sweet spread” from 9pm-11pm, implies that guests will have eaten dinner prior to the event and just expect an array of desserts, coffees, perhaps cordials and port, and, likely – depending on the crowd, will not linger long after 11pm.

Should you decide to do a full dinner party for 12 guests or so, expect them to stay for 3-4 hours total and ….more on that, later…


Hopefully, you have already considered the physical logistics of your location. For a party with more guests than you can fit at your dining room table, you will likely have scattered seating with a lot of moving around. Remember to move any smaller furniture/‘obstacles’ that could get in people’s way!


Scattered “Cocktail Seating” will dictate your menu a bit more. Whatever you serve must be easy to eat with just a fork – nothing requiring a table or use of a knife. One great idea is to bring out your favorite stew (a flavorful lamb tagine with couscous, or a favorite family recipe of beef bourguignon), anything with small enough pieces, that can be easily eaten with just a fork or spoon will be the perfect fit.


Today’s society is full of all kinds of dietary restrictions, preferences, allergies, and intolerances. I suggest you DO NOT open that can of worms by asking guests in advance about their flavor profiles.

Assume that there will be some Gluten Free guests. Make sure you have rice crackers, veggies and fruits to accompany your cheese and your goodies are not all wheat-based.

You are also likely to have a few vegetarian guests (who may or may not eat fish), so make sure you have enough of a selection in that department, as well. Don’t go crazy; you are thoughtful to consider their food issues, but remember, they are coming to visit you and your home and not just for sustenance.


Remember the old days, when your parents told you to just move things around on your plate if you did not like something, and NOT to make a big deal out of it? Those days are gone, unfortunately, and it actually seems the opposite is true – as everyone expects to be accommodated or even worse – make a huge scene about it on social media.

In the end, remember, you chose to invite these folks into your home – so presumably, you like them (at least a little). Make the party about sharing time together and you can’t go wrong.





We are often asked for our advice on entertaining during the holidays. Recently, A Thyme to Cook Founder and President, Linda Sample, took some time to discuss her thoughts. Throughout the Holiday entertaining season, we will share them here with you…

So, you have decided to have a holiday bash. Of course, my first response is going to be – call us at A Thyme to Cook! However, with all the seasonal, festive decorating at this time of year, it’s understandable that you may decide to show off your home and do it yourself.

With that in mind, here are a few tips and trends…

The Basic Questions

WHERE is the party? If it is in your home – how many people can your home accommodate COMFORTABLY? I said COMFORTABLY, not crammed into every nook and cranny. You can determine how many guests you can fit by simply dividing the square footage of your home by 5 – that is the magic number. If you do not want to open up your entire house, decide which rooms and use the same formula to determine how many people you should invite.


WHAT kind of party are you throwing? Now that you have a sense of your ‘party space’ you need to think about WHAT KIND of party you want to host. A cocktail party, a casual brunch, a full dinner party for 12? Remember, keep it simple and focus on doing what you feel comfortable executing.

WHO would like to include as your guests? Friends, colleagues, family, neighbors, or all of the above? Kids or no kids? These decisions will help guide you to the style of party you want to throw. A party with your close friends will have a different vibe than one with kids or one with your boss in attendance.


WHY you are having this bash? To show off your décor? To congratulate employees for a great year? To get the neighbors interacting? Once you find your goal – focus all other aspects of the party on that goal and stick to it!

HOW are you going to do it? Trust your instincts and keep coming back here as we’ll share more ideas weekly as we continue through the holiday season.

Trends To Keep In Mind


Think GREEN and fresh! As a Certified Green Caterer, we always emphasize the natural. All you have to do is look outside your windows for fir, pine, cedar, branches, birch logs, etc. “Natural” never goes out of style. Just remember NOT to cut any endangered or protected species (some states prohibit cutting of winterberry and/or laurel) or anything poisonous such as holly, or Christmas cactus. AND, remember NOT to put candles near the greens. Better yet – use battery operated ones for peace of mind; you can find really great quality battery operated lights most places these days.

SPARKLE! This is the one time of the year when everything glitters and shines. Go for it! That also means candles… again, the safe kind!


The color BLUE is becoming more popular in holiday decorating and certainly blends well with a natural rustic look.

Most importantly, remind yourself to KEEP IT SIMPLE. A contemporary, clean-lined look can be equally as dramatic as ribbons and rustic greens.

Don’t over-extend yourself. This season has enough of its own stress, no need to add in more of your own!



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We are always extremely honored that a happy couple would invite us to be a part of their special day. In the process, we have the privilege of working alongside some of the very best in the industry to help create the perfect celebrations for those saying “I Do”.

Often, we mention our admiration for photographers, however, we cannot over-stress the timelessness of their work. Memories carved in time and there for us to share and look back on.

As our 2015 Wedding “Season” continues to drive along through the Fall, we wanted to take pause and spotlight some of the amazing couples, venues and, of course, photographers from last few years.


Sarah & Jonathan Photo Courtesy: Leslie Dumke Studios White Gate Farm

Sarah & Jonathan
Photo Courtesy: Leslie Dumke Studios
White Gate Farm



New Website

We are BEYOND excited to officially unveil our new look on the internet!

Thanks to the amazingly talented Patti Murphy and her Patti Murphy Designs team, AThymeToCook.com has a fresh look that fits perfectly into our vision as a company.

We started the new website project last fall and today we are filled with accomplishment and joy!

We met Patti at an industry event last summer at Stonington Vineyards and kept her card handy. She is a local artist (with the most adorable shop in the Velvet Mill in Stonington) who brought her sense of artistry to the project.

The new site’s design allows for ease of use to our current and potential clients and is filled with beautiful photography from some of the best area professionals.

Everything including our menu designing process, weddings, pop-up dinners, green certification, FAQ, team bios, featured venues, corporate events and so much more is on the site for your reading pleasure.

Please, take a look at our new little corner of the world wide web and let us know what you think!




In the event business, there are the essentials – amazing location, amazing food (OF COURSE!), amazing drinks, amazing floral, amazing clothes, amazing guests and so much more.

However, the photos of all these amazing things are what we can cherish for the years to come.

That’s where the AMAZING photographers come in. Silently doing their job, capturing all those special moments and making them even-lasting.

When we started to work with Patti Murphy on redesigning our website, we knew that we wanted to showcase the best of the best photographs and sent out the requests. Our friends in the photography world didn’t hesitate to share their photos from previous celebrations we worked side-by-side on.

We want to highlight those people who currently have their art on our new site. We can’t recommend them enough and would more than happy to talk to you about any of them!

Chris Nachtwey Photography
Phone: 860-912-4958

HK Photography
Phone: 203.906.7722

Kelly Lorenz Imagery
Phone: 617.680.8802

Laura Dee Photography

Leslie Dumke Studios
Phone: 917-533-9446

Lindsay Shaw Photography
Phone: 860.268.1722

Love Days Photography
Phone: 508-221-0128

Maggie Conley Photography
Phone: 860-857-7136

Robert Norman Photography
Phone: 203-247-3093

Saintuma Photography EQFX Studios
Phone: (860) 373 0304

Stephen Wang Photography
Phone: 860-918-3174

Studio TEN9TEN
Phone: 203-415-9851


Last month a few of us attended a great networking event hosted by the Rhode Island Wedding Group at the Providence G, right in the middle of a revitalized downtown Providence.

We were in awe of the grand ballroom/event space. A former Gas Company lobby (built in 1920s), the space, with huge windows and grand columns, is ideal for transforming into the celebration of your dreams. The Providence G website states it perfectly: “4,800 square feet of blank canvas to completely customize and design the look and feel of your event. From weddings, to socials, to birthday soirées…”.

photo: ProvidenceG

photo: ProvidenceG

photo: ProvidenceG

We returned the following week and met with the uber-talented Kristen who serves as the Event Specialist at the Providence G. Kristen guided us on a spectacular tour and filled us in on all the details of the historic building. The space is custom-made for an unforgettable event – a caterers kitchen, beautiful restrooms, a grand lobby, and even valet parking for all guests!



Valentines Poster660

We here at A Thyme to Cook are SO happy to officially announce that Connecticut Rental Center has joined us as our Sponsoring Partner for our Seasonal Pop-Up Dinners – The TABLE!

Tom, Dawn and their team have helped us transform the Groton New London Airport, Dodd Stadium and the El N Gee club into works of art! They will do so again for all our future Pop-Ups, including next week at the Yantic Firehouse.

There are still a few seats available for our Valentines Dinner at the Yantic Firehouse! Visit HERE for tickets.


This past November our seasonal pop-up dinner, The TABLE, transformed the El N Gee Club of New London into an amazingly beautiful culinary adventure…


Juli, one of our fabulous Event Coordinators, was at the helm and took her inspiration from ‘Blancanieves’ – a Spanish take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow White. It is the story of an enchanting daughter of a famed matador who flees her wicked stepmother to join a band of bullfighting dwarfs…



Everyone at A Thyme To Cook wishes you happy memories of 2014 and dreams of great things for the upcoming year.

Thank you to everyone for an amazing year, we are very excited for what 2015 will bring!

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