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6 Chef-Approved Suggestions for a Merry Holiday Season

(StatePoint) Heading into the holidays can be both exciting and terrifying. Part of the stress factor comes from food and drink -- specifically, what to serve guests, bring to parties and how to stay healthy and centered through the thick of it.

To help take the worry out of the season and amp up the fun, Mark Estee, a nationally recognized chef, is offering helpful suggestions.  

1. Heat. 

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Chips and salsa, a staple at many gatherings, don’t have to be boring. Swap out run-of-the-mill salsa with something fresher and more delicious. Estee’s brand of choice is Killer Salsa, a delicious, small-batch salsa made in Nevada for over 20 years. Flavors include Original, Salsa Verde, Hot and Garlic, all of which are made with simple, clean ingredients that will add some kick in your crunch. To add wintertime flair, pour the salsa over goat cheese or cream cheese and warm it in the oven.

2. Simple Bites. 

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Whether you’re party-hopping and need something to contribute or you just want to rock the appetizer spread, keep things simple. Grab a local baguette and pick up Liberty Artisan Meats’ new ‘Nduja salami, a particularly spicy, Calabrian chili salami that goes great on crusty, fresh bread or as a pizza topping. Unlike typical salami, it’s high-fat content and finer grind make it spreadable.

3. Drink.

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The best way to roll into a party is with a premade cocktail in tow. This is because barrel-aged cocktails can taste better than many of those that are freshly-made, due to the texture added throughout the aging process. Bring a premium, barrel-aged​ ​Doc Pepe’s Lab​ cocktail to that holiday party. The classic, yet craftily curated cocktails are made in small batches with ingredients from scratch. The only ingredient you’ll need to add is ice -- no bartender required.

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4. Toasts.

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When life gives you lemons -- or the end of the party -- say cheers with PèpeCello. For those end-of-night toasts, enjoy this crisp, tart all-natural limoncello liqueur by itself or add a splash to your favorite prosecco to make an irresistible spritz. Hand-crafted in small batches in Sorrento, Italy, the family recipe is made with only certified, organic Sorrento lemons.

5. The Next Day.

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Thinking of how to get up and do it again? Thinking of getting up and heading to the gym or work? Be sure you’re prepped for the party’s aftermath. While a cup of coffee will get your eyes open, after a particularly festive holiday gathering, you might want an extra boost. A new line of beverages called Drink Nutrient work with our body’s natural structure for increased absorption and efficacy of nutrients, and are a good way to rehydrate, enhance health and defend against winter bugs.

6. Warm Up.

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You can also recuperate, or help others to, with tea. Just in time for cooler weather, Davidson’s Organic Teas has released its new ​Earl Grey Cream​ and ​Earl Grey Rose​ blends, great to have on hand all winter long. The brand’s new subscription style Mood Boxes also make for thoughtful, healthful holiday gifts. Choose from Cleanse​, ​Focus​, ​Immunity​ and ​Motivate​ Mood Boxes.

While this list may be small, it has you covered for all you’ll need this “holidaze” season! 

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