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Having lasted well into the fall, the pandemic has certainly turned our world upside down, literally. The Holidays are fast approaching and our traditions will have to be adjusted somewhat. Huge family gatherings may have to be put on the back burner for this year for obvious reasons. NO ONE wants to put our loved one’s health in jeopardy but then again, NOBODY wants to skip Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukah celebratory meals! So what is the solution? Consider having a Holiday Open House! An Open House is an old-fashioned holiday party where guests stop by throughout the afternoon and evening and keep their visit short. (theoretically!) 🙂 Food and drinks are served buffet style rather than a tradition sit-down design. To keep the crowd numbers down, you will have to keep the number of invites down! Only invite closest family members and friends to reduce the risks of spreading the Covid virus. Hopefully, everyone will understand this is a temporary, but necessary change for the calamitous year of 2020. If you feel it is impossible to tactfully cut down the number of invites without hurting someone’s feelings, why not stagger the invitation times? This concept would require setting a certain time for certain family members to come. You simply give them a time to come and a time to leave. For example, you invitation could sound similar to this; “This year, due to the pandemic, and the lack of space in our home to adequately social distance, we are staggering our invitations. We welcome your family from the hours of 2-4. We know this is not ideal, but the thought of not seeing you at all is the sad alternative” (or something like that!) These are your friends and family so hopefully there is some degree of understanding there! This is where e-vites are perfect! Every invitation will contain a different time table.

Assuming you have decided to do a Holiday Open House, what would be your plan of action?

If your budget allows, why not contact your favorite local restaurant and servers to cater your meal? They certainly would appreciate any income at this point, I am sure! If you are contemplating this, get your order in early, hopefully lots of families are thinking about the devastated hospitality industry in Hawaii. I recently attended a wedding that was catered. The staff wore masks AND gloves, placed ALL the food on our plates and we touched NOTHING! Beautiful! I certainly felt safer and I am sure that is what they had in mind. Hand sanitizer was available at almost every turn. You may want to provide them, as well.

If you choose to do the cooking and serving yourself, here is a guideline that may make it easier for you..

If you are sending the invitations, now is the time to do it! Holiday season, as you know, gets crazy busy so get those invitations out early enough to guarantee a spot on guest’s calendars.
Serve foods that can be prepared ahead of time and create a schedule of when each dish can be prepared.
Create a shopping list.
Book any help you may need. Ideally you should have servers so guests do not touch any utensils. This does not have to be a hired staff, it certainly can be you or any other family member willing to help. This also applies for a bartender if you so choose. Again, if you can, hire servers from your local restaurant.

Buy any needed decorations or specialty foods.
Are you giving parting gifts? Cookies are an ideal, make- ahead treat! Fill a bowl with individually wrapped goodies and place near the door. (Any treat you provide should be individually wrapped for safety reasons).

Clean dishes and silverware.
Launder linens and iron if necessary.
Do a big shopping run for all non-perishables and beverages.
Prepare any freezable dishes.

Choose your serving dishes and utensils.

Label each dish with a post-it note. (This may seem overdown, but it saves so much time in the long run!) Hopefully all the dishes will fit on the buffet table, if not make the necessary changes now.
Thoroughly clean your house.

Buy perishable food items such as bread, produce, dairy products and ice.
Start setting up the area. Make the buffet table accessible from all sides, if possible.

If you are serving hot foods, make sure your chafing dishes and warmers are in good working condition. These items can also be rented at a minimal cost.

Make the beverage station elsewhere, as well as a dessert station if you have the room.

Figure out how to safely social distance your guests and set up accordingly.

Do the cooking and leave only warming and assembly for the day of the party.
Give your house one final once-over.

Finish setting up. For more room, push furniture against the wall.
Arrange any cheese platters and cover with clear wrap.

Toss salad, (if serving one) and arrange bread display.
Set out appetizers that won’t spoil and wrap tightly. (Rip off that wrap when you hear the doorbell ring!)

Finish setting out the food and enjoy yourself immensely!

Create the mood. If your family gathering is somewhat formal, have instrumental music playing in the background. Here is another opportunity to use out-of-work musicians to make your gathering a smashing success.

If yours happens to be a more casual bunch and live music is not your style, play family favorites throughout the house and fill your home with the lovely fragrance of an easy simmer pot recipe. It is simply:
1 whole orange quartered
1/2 cup cranberries
1 tbsp. whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
a pinch of nutmeg
2 quarts apple cider
Simmer on low all day!

Give the children a space of their own to color or create something special for you!
Keep the food simple and casual that can be easily restocked as the day progresses.
Have extra face masks on hand in the event someone forgets theirs invariably, someone will! Maybe make a game out of it! Have them wear the most outrageous masks and tell them there is a prize involved!

The most gracious host is a host that gets out there and acts like one of the guests, so be present and have some fun!

All things considered, if we have the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones and friends in these trying times, we are blessed beyond measure and have so many things to be thankful for!


Even though the Governor of Hawaii has recently loosened restrictions on gatherings, I remain cautious about my eating inside most restaurants. I still am avoiding any place where I do not have access to open air. That has mostly led me to take out sushi and food from some of my other favorite places. Fortunately, some places do provide outdoor dining. Tori Ton, one of my favorite places, has tables on their sidewalk and abutting the parking lot. It is an izakaya specializing in yakitori (skewered grilled dishes) done over charcoal.

The menu is large and includes almost every part of the chicken from skin, heart, liver, gizzard, thigh and breast. Learning to appreciate the heart, skin and gizzard dishes has been an interesting culinary journey. The splayed chicken wing, which together with the savory liver, are definitely my favorites. I also have really liked their “Yummy Cucumber” with a light dressing. If some of these dishes seem intimidating, try the tsukene (grilled savory chicken meatballs). This dish will remind you of tasty hamburger. Usually the food is well prepared. The drink menu is extensive as well with many cocktails, sake by glass and carafe, Japanese beer and shochu highballs.

If you are less cautious COVID-averse than I, you can dine inside. I am sure you will really love both the setting and food. Kanpai!

Tori Ton
Old Stadium Square
2334 S King St
Ste B
Honolulu, HI 96826
5pm – 12 pm Mon-Sun
(808) 260-1478

Makani Ahiahi
On October 15th, Oahu started allowing visitors from the mainland to come back to Hawaii without the mandated 14-day quarantine, if they had a negative COVID test result taken within 3 days of their departing flight.
This will be the first step to open tourism again since the sudden lock down back in March. Visitors may be disheartened to find many stores, restaurants and local businesses were unable to survive the financial hardships during their absence.
On the other hand, beaches, parks and hiking trails are free to enjoy.
Oahu restaurants welcome groups of five, or less, for dining. Face masks are required to be worn until your drinks and food arrive.
Some attractions and museums have reopened, including: Kualoa Ranch, Wet-n-Wild Water Park, Honolulu Zoo, Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum.

Just when you think this is a sad continuation of the hardships we have collectively shared in 2020, I have a bit of WONDERFUL NEWS to lift your spirit!

The Downtown Art Center, at 1041 Nuuanu Avenune in Honolulu, is the venue for the Statewide Exhibition from the Hawaii Craftsmen organization. Only in existence since 2019, this incredible site was envisioned and secured by the hard work of many to replace the space the Honolulu Academy of Arts once offered to artist guilds to display their work. It will be magnet for the Hawaii art community for years to come. The 6,000 square foot area will soon provide classes for aspiring artists and opportunities for Pop-Up Shows in the 2,000 square foot exhibition hall. To learn more, check out their website:

The Statewide Exhibition from the Hawaii Craftsmen show runs from October 24th to November 22nd. (There is parking in the building). To see some art displayed in the show virtually go to: https:// Visit the show if you can. There you will see Margaret Teruya’s entry: Makani Ahiahi (Evening Breeze). This amazing quilt is pictured above. She also has an Etsy site: Quilts Blankets and Other Sewn Goods by mtnesthawaii on

Kind regards,
Cathy, Mary and Jeff