Plan a Perfect Holiday Party on a Budget

Event planner has tips for creating a festive buffet and dessert recipes.

ByABC News via logo
December 18, 2008, 9:40 PM

Dec. 19, 2008 — -- The holidays don't have to be a downer because you're pinching pennies.

Lifestyle expert and event planner David Monn shares last-minute, inexpensive decorating tips.

"It's not about how much money you have, it's about where you choose to spend it," Monn told "Good Morning America."

Here are his secrets to making a lavish-looking dinner and a delicious, festive dessert buffet for very little money.

Set the mood:

Monn decorated a buffet table in a winter-green color palate for about $144:

From the kitchen of Marcia Shertzer

(Makes about 70 cookies)


Mix all together, cover and refrigerate overnight. Work with small batches in cool place. Roll dough on powdered sugar. Cut into strips about 10 inches long by ¾ inch wide. Wrap around lady lock form (or round wooden clothes pin) making sure to overlap dough. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Pull off form while still warm. Cool cookies before filling.


Mix all together until smooth. You can substitute almond or orange extract for vanilla for a different taste.

Special equipment:
10-inch tube pan (about 4 inches deep) with a removable bottom


Let egg whites stand in bowl of a standing electric mixer (see cooks' note) at room temperature about 1 hour before making cake. (They should be about 60°F, slightly below room temperature.) Set oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together confectioner's sugar, flour, and salt onto a sheet of wax paper using a triple sifter or fine sieve. Beat whites in mixer until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating, and continue beating just until whites are thickened and form soft, droopy peaks. Beat in vanilla.

Sprinkle one fourth of sifted dry ingredients over whites and fold in with a rubber spatula gently but thoroughly. Fold in remaining dry ingredients, one third at a time. Gently pour batter evenly into ungreased tube pan and bake until top is light golden, cake retracts a bit from pan and springs back when touched lightly, and a tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Invert pan onto neck of an empty wine bottle or a large metal funnel and cool cake completely.

To remove cake from pan, run tip of a long, narrow knife between outer edge of cake and pan. Tilt cake pan on its side and gently tap bottom edge against counter. Rotate pan, tapping and turning a few more times, until cake appears free. Cover pan with a metal rack or cardboard round and invert, tapping pan firmly to loosen cake. Lift pan from cake. (It should come out beautifully, like a pillow taken out of a slipcover.)

Once the cake is cooled cut into three layers with a serrated knife.

Angel Food Cake Frosting


Combine all ingredients in a mixer on high whip until cream forms peaks. On first layer of cake spread evenly over whole layer 1/2 of a cup of the preserves. Spread evenly over same layer ½ inch whipped cream, sprinkle coconut on top of cream. Place second layer on top, use remaining jam, ½ inch of whipped cream, coconut. Place top layer on spoon and cover top and sides with remaining whipped cream and cover all with coconut. One hand spoons whipped cream with a wide cake spatula and in second hand have another metal spatula to apply evenly.

Cookies by The Cookie Artisan, Maryann Rollins in Oklahoma City, Okla. Other sweets provided by Tasty Treats.