TODAY   |  December 24, 2013

Learn the tricks of holiday planning

Ease some of the stress of planning the food and fun of a holiday party with these tips presented by lifestyle expert Suzanne Rust.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> have a house full of people today and tomorrow and between us you haven't given it a lot of thought.

>> susan is here with tricks to make your last minute holiday planning going a little smoother. good morning.

>> great to be here.

>> so a lot of people you say are getting ready right now.

>> yes.

>> trick is really with the planning.

>> plan ahead. it's such a simple trick but what i do every holiday, i set the table the night before.

>> right.

>> this is not the time the day of christmas to find out there's a wine stain on your table cloths, your missing chairs, you're missing plates. set yourself up the night before. it will be a great ease off your mind.

>> that's good advice. what are we doing here with the ice cream in the muffin tins?

>> this is something, pie is often being served at the end of the day . you want to scoop, prescoop and put them in little cupcake tins.

>> okay.

>> put them in the freezer. freeze them up.

>> yeah.

>> in time for dessert, you have this. you thaw it for a few minutes and plop it on the plate.

>> perfect little ice cream balls.

>> yeah.

>> i like to do that.

>> what about the butter?

>> butter is also cold. i think it's prettier presentation if you take a simple box grater and grate a few in there.

>> like your grating cheese.

>> i think it looks nicer.

>> yeah you put the brick out there and it starts melting.

>> if you haven't had time to thaw your butter, you can grate a little bit.

>> good idea. pizzas if you're having an appetizer.

>> frozen pizzas are a wonderful way to serve up an appetizer. during the holidays it's fun to use christmas themed cookie cutters. cut a shape out.

>> cut it up first and decorate it.

>> slightly thaw them and cut the shapes out.

>> we're so handy and crafty today.

>> and once you get that out, you can decorate it with fresh herbs, a little olives and anything you like. you pop it in the oven.

>> great idea.

>> they are kind of cute.

>> they're great.

>> candy canes , whatever you have.

>> you have to chill a bottle of wine or champagne quickly.

>> more wine is not cool. you're doing a one to one ratio of ice and water. you put in a couple of handfuls of salt.

>> why?

>> it lowers the temperature. so your wine or champagne is going to cook up a little faster. stir it around.

>> i had no idea.

>> about 20 or 25 minutes you'll have a cooler bottle of wine. make sure you rinse it so you don't get salt in your wine.

>> definitely.

>> this is the fun part of course. who doesn't like a festive drink. you don't have time to make punch, get some champagne and make it more festive. drop a few berries in there. whatever you like. it keeps the drink cool as well.

>> that's cool.

>> the frozen thing, a lot of people have them in the freezer already.

>> how about this decorative look?

>> this is a little quick decoration. these do not take up a lot of space. they're easy, you can go sneak around your christmas tree if you have one. take a few bits out. wrap the bottom, you know, and pop it into whatever you have. maybe you can use clear glasses or whatever you have. a little charlie brown moment. you have small bulbs put them on there too.

>> we're out of time; merry christmas .

>> thank you so much.

>> you too.

>> we're back in a moment. this is "today" on nbc. da kotb. kathie lee gifford . . . r.

>>> kathie lee and hoda coming up next with quick fishes.