Snippets from Thrifty Tips for Entertaining, from Mom by June Fletcher
"Mayonnaise is mortar." Just about everything you find in a small can can be smashed, mixed with mayonnaise and something else from a little jar, and slathered on a saltine for an hors d'oeuvre. Bait-sized canned shrimp, mixed with dried chives and a squirt of lemon, is surprisingly tasty.
"Heap it up." Mom was a wicked-good cook, but when it came to parties she didn't bother with her signature Weiner schnitzel or caloric-death sour-cream pork chops. In fact, even if she was having a dinner party, she didn't cook individual dishes at all. Instead, she served a main course that could be mounded, like paella, or tubbed, like bouillabaisse or even beef stew. Side dishes invariably consisted of a loaf of steaming garlic bread and a vat of salad. Because the food was simple and cooked in bulk (though served on gorgeous, giant platters), it didn't stress her budget or tax her energy.
"Punch it up." Liquor always flowed at my parents' parties. Though Dad had once owned a bar, he rarely mixed drinks for guests. Rather, he mixed with his guests. Guests helped themselves from the huge punch bowl that held an economical solution Mom had concocted of champagne, raspberry sherbet, ginger ale and a sugary red liquid that may well have been Kool Aid. I sometimes sneaked a glass; it rocked.
"Make people play." Mom believed that adults all secretly yearned to be kids again, so she prodded people to do more than just stand around and talk. Those who weren't good at charades or singing at the piano, might be corralled into wiring greenery into a wreath or teaching one of our 21 show dogs a new trick.
"Always eat the centerpiece." Flowers were too boring for Mom. Instead, she designed vignettes, like a winter scene with snowmen made from citrus, roads from cashews and cabins from chocolate cake. An artist ahead of her time, she encouraged guests to nibble on her creations as she brought the coffee.