December 11, 2015

Holiday HAVE-TO’S

Holiday HAVE-TO’s for your upcoming house party season.

by Maura McGlone

HO HO HO-rs d’oeuvres!
Prep your holiday cocktail party menu with your guests in mind, but without losing your own mind. Long gone are the days of full dishes being served at a cocktail party — stick with hors d’oeuvres! Nowadays, those small, delicious finger foods are replacing the evening meal and allowing you, as the fabulous host, to get more creative with your options. Bake your famous broccoli and cheese casserole into a ramekin, turn your mother’s gazpacho into a shooter, don’t be afraid to downsize all of your old favorites into mouthwatering mouthfuls!

TIP: Include some choices from each category: meat, seafood, vegetable, cheese, dessert. Make it easy on yourself and choose some items that double as gluten free and vegetarian options, if you have guests with dietary restrictions.

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Thinking Décor? Less is more.
Imagine a night not running around your house, dodging your guests like Beckham, to make sure little Jenny doesn’t knock over the Lennox nativity set. Save yourself the headache and minimize your fanciest décor. You still want to set the atmosphere for the holidays? Of course you do! Dim the lighting, light some candles, play some holiday music and voila! Think simply. Instead of an elaborate centerpiece as a focal point that takes up the whole table – throw a festive table runner on there and save room for the real star of the show, the food!

TIP: If you don’t want your “best” out, but still want décor around your house, don’t fret. You can buy great, simple and affordable holiday décor at Michael’s, AC Moore, and other craft stores to substitute for your fancier items.

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Beer Comes Santa Claus!
Don’t deprive yourself of a good night by being behind the bar all night. Set up a self serve bar for your winter cocktail party with all the fixins. More often than not, people will want to make their drinks “their way,” anyway. Set your bar with the standard wine, beer, and assorted hard liquors. Make sure to include mixers, ice, and even throw in some holiday garnishes if you’d like. Maybe even get creative and have a pre-batched signature holiday drink in a beverage dispenser! Most importantly, pour yourself a big glass, pat yourself on the back and take a swig!

TIP: Drinks are for designated drivers too! Don’t forget about those that are taking on the responsibility for the night of getting others home safely. Just because they aren’t imbibing, doesn’t mean they should be excluded from a social drinking atmosphere. Throw a pitcher of non-alcoholic holiday sangria or bowl of punch on the table and they’ll appreciate it more than you know!

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 It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – Remember what the night is all about. The holidays are about bringing everyone together; not everyone you invited being together while you’re slaving away in the kitchen making sure the puffed pastries come out at the perfect temperature. People will remember the memories, laughs, and moments they shared with YOU at this special time of year, not the temperature of the prime rib.

TIP: Save the day-of scrambling by creating a menu where the majority of the food can be prepared in advance. Have those platters in your fridge assembled and ready to be pulled out 15 minutes before guest arrive. Try to welcome all of your guests at the front door so you can give them a great first impression of a fun evening ahead.

Take a deep breath and a large sip of pinot noir, you can do it! Happy Holidays!

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