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MOLLY SIMS'S MOM'S RED VELVET CAKE
Christmas has always been serious business for Molly Sims, and one of her diehard holiday traditions is her mom Dorothy's cream-cheese-frosted cake. The model-actress, who has had the cake every year since she was 2, even served the confection at her wedding.
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CARLA HALL'S SPINACH & FETA DIP
Want easy with a twist? You got it. The Chew's Carla Hall is ready to be your hit holiday party's ghostwriter this year – all you've got to do is toss the ingredients in a food processor and blend. The former caterer loves a make-ahead hors d'oeuvres like her spinach and feta dip, and when you're breathing easy before your guests arrive, you will, too.
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THE DEEN BROTHERS' CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TURTLES
With their busy schedules, Jamie and Bobby Deen always have these quick candies in their back pockets when it comes time to make holiday gifts. They suggest wrapping the candies individually in cellophane bags tied with seasonal ribbon or name tags.
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MARCUS SAMUELSSON'S SWEDISH GLOGG
Star chef Marcus Samuelsson is Ethiopian, raised by Swedish parents, and is now living in N.Y.C.'s Harlem, where he likes to throw a holiday party that's a global affair. It usually includes a punch bowl full of this traditional Swedish mulled wine.
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YIFAT OREN'S COUSCOUS PILAF
She's a party planner to Hollywood's A-List (Natalie Portman! Reese Witherspoon!), so it's a given that Oren has a few shortcuts up her sleeve. Take this pilaf, which she makes using "couscous from a box!" she says. "If you put it in a beautiful bowl, it's impressive – and it's really hearty."
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BETHENNY FRANKEL'S PEPPERMINT BARK
Juggling baby Bryn, a marriage, a Skinnygirl empire and a reality show is enough to stress anyone out. So Frankel keeps her holiday soirees low-key with simple cocktails, finger foods and inventive party favors, like her peppermint bark (details below). "It's a gift that's creative and inexpensive," she says.
White chocolate chips
Candy canes or peppermints
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SCOTTY MCCREERY'S BROCCOLI CORNBREAD
The American Idol winner knows a thing or two about a country-style Christmas. During the holidays, the North Carolina native savors quality family time and good eats, including his Grandma Janet's broccoli cornbread (details below).
Corn muffin mix
Butter or margarine
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TYLER FLORENCE'S PUMPKIN BREAD
The Food Network chef prides himself on home entertaining, including his "simple and elegant" wine and cheese parties, which boasts an assortment of wines, complementary cheeses and his favorite pumpkin bread recipe (details below).
Sugar amp brown sugar
Kosher salt amp pepper
Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg amp clove
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GAIL SIMMONS'S TOASTED COCONUT MACAROONS
The Top Chef: Just Desserts host aptly offers up something sugary for the holidays – a sweets-only soiree! "There is no better way to bring people together than with desserts," says Simmons, who tops her delectable toasted coconut macaroons with some festive holiday sprinkles.
Sweetened condensed milk
Sweetened shredded coconut
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SHIRI APPLEBY'S SPICY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
"Everyone brings a different recipe and we make one big meal together," Appleby says of her weekend gatherings, where she assigns friends an appetizer, main dish, dessert and sides (including her spicy roasted cauliflower) a couple of days in advance. So no one gets stuck footing the bill, "we'll split the groceries evenly," the actress adds.
Red pepper flakes
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JESSICA SZOHR'S SILVER DOLLAR COOKIES
This Gossip Girl star always kick-starts her holidays with a visit to grandma Karen's in Milwaukee, where they bake batches of silver dollar cookies with the actress' cousins. "We all sit around the table and work while listening to Christmas music," Szohr says. "It's so much fun!"
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PATRICIA RICHARDS'S PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE
When it comes to holiday cocktails, mixologist Patricia Richards stirs by a simple approach: Just shake it. From her Cranberry Cosmopolitan and Candy Cane Martini to her Peppermint Hot Chocolate (details below), the famed Wynn Las Vegas drink-pert says getting your holiday party started is as simple as shaking the contents over ice and serving with festive garnishes.
Hot chocolate powder
Creème de menthe
Red and green sanding sugars
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SUNNY ANDERSON'S FRIED STUFFING BITES
This holiday season the Food Network personality shows you how to jazz up traditional side dishes, from her cherry-lemon relish ("I'm never going back to cranberries!" Anderson says) and sweet Brussels sprouts salad ("It tasted great warm or cold!") to her delicious fried stuffing bites.
Leftover baked stuffing
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DAVID STARK'S LEMON-HERB ROASTED CHICKEN
The celebrity party planner, whose A-lists clients include Beyoncé and Ali Larter, is big on hosting fuss-free affairs that require minimal cooking and little stress. "The best thing about this party is that the prep work is simply shopping and placing," says Stark, who suggests keeping the main course simple, like offering a store-bought or homemade roast chicken.
Thyme, oregano, rosemary or sage leaves
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DAVID STARK'S ROASTED WINTER ROOT VEGETABLES
For a hearty side dish, Stark says pair the lemon-herb roasted chicken with roasted winter root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and orange beets with fresh thyme or rosemary and olive oil. "The ingredients (not the preparation!) are the star," says the celeb planner.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme or rosemary
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Gilles Marini's Kings Cake
Gilles Marini, who currently stars on Brothers and Sisters, injects a taste of France into his family's holidays by celebrating Three Kings Day, which is commemorated by baking a flaky almond-flavored confection called a gallette des rois (kings cake) that includes a special surprise – usually a Christmas figurine or a tiny animal.
Puff pastry dough
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Cat Deeley's Mince Pie
Each year, Cat Deeley, the British-born host of So You Think You Can Dance, partakes in an English version of a Christmas feast, which includes flipping on the TV when Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual holiday address while feasting on roast turkey, Brussel sprouts and her mom's very special mince pies.
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Kelly Choi's Rice Cake Stew
One of the Top Chef Masters host's cherished childhood memories is helping to sample a spoonful of her mom's dduk guk – a Korean stew combining rice cakes with brisket in a beef broth – that is served on Korean New Year.
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Mario Lopez's Chili Pork Tamales
The annual Lopez family Christmas isn't complete without Grandma Rosario's specialty: chili pork tamales. While the Extra host admits he doesn't "help with making them," he can easily polish off at least two dozen on his own.
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Jo Gartin's Butter Sage Penne with Spinach
For all her events, "I really try to add green components," says Gartin, who uses succulents to decorate the table and herbs to infuse cocktails and entrées, like her Butter Sage Penne with Spinach.
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Jo Gartin's Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Gartin's Caramel Apple Cheesecake is like two desserts in one – apple pie and cheesecake! But since this rich dessert is served in bite-sized bars, you get the decadence – without the guilt.
Graham cracker crumbs
Granny Smith apples
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Preston Bailey's Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes with White Frosting
"I always have something decadent for people when they walk in," says Preston Bailey of his New Year's Eve bashes. And it doesn't get more decadent – or chocolate-y! – than these moist cupcakes, courtesy of myrecipes.com.
Milk chocolate morsels