Here, six tips to simplify and beautify – on a budget.

Entertaining friends and family can be enjoyable and rewarding. But during the holidays it can sometimes feel more like obligation than option. It can also cost a fortune and leave you feeling frazzled and unfulfilled.

"The challenge with the holidays is that everyone is so busy trying to balance work with family and friend commitments. That means everything tends to be done in a panic at the very last minute – including your entertaining," says Sebastien Centner, president and director of award-winning, Toronto-based Eatertainment, a catering and event planning company that hosts over 900 events a year, including for such celebrities as Martha Stewart, Brad Pitt and Bill Clinton.

There are, however, ways to reduce the stress and save money – without sacrificing the fun. Here are Sebastien's top tips for budget-friendly holiday entertaining:

1) Consider brunch instead of dinner: Evening events can be a lot more work-intensive, plus people tend to get more evening invitations. So think daytime. "Brunch is really underrated, especially during the holidays," says Sebastien. "Sundays are a great day to entertain because you have all weekend to prepare." Brunches, he adds, also tend to involve less-expensive foods you can prepare ahead of time and which "hold well". Plus they lend themselves to a self-serve format. Things like French toast, pancakes, eggs Benedict all work well. So does frying eggs sunny-side-up five at a time so they run together and can be cut like pizza wedges when served.

2) Ramp it up with a miniaturized brunch: "This is a little more labour intensive than a regular brunch, but it's also more fun and stylish," says Sebastien. Think mini French toast, mini fruit skewers, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel bites. That way, guests can enjoy small tastes of everything.

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