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But, not only do I love to decorate, I also love to entertain.
I love to host family and friends. But, the holiday season can get busy and stressful.
So, I thought I’d share my tips for hosting any gathering stress-free.
You can host a fabulous holiday party, easily, with my tips.
Here they are –
1. Opt for an all hors d’oeuvres holiday party.
When you go with appetizers only, you don’t have to worry about seating people for a holiday dinner. You also don’t have to worry about silverware and plates for everyone.
And, it creates a more casual environment, which is what I prefer.
Guests can mingle and chat instead of being stuck next to someone at a dinner table for hours.
Even if it’s dinnertime you can serve enough hors d’oeuvres to satisfy even the hungriest of guests. And, I do know a little about this because my husband happens to have the largest appetite of anyone I’ve ever seen!
Plan on 12 – 15 savory bites and 2 – 3 sweet bites per person for an hors d’oeuvres only party. Caterers usually do about 8 different savory appetizers and 3 – 4 sweet, but you can really get away with 5 or 6 if you double up on a couple of the easy ones.
Shhh, don’t tell my caterer mom and sister.
You can also fill in with a great charcuterie board and crudité platter. (Those are just fancy names for a board with cheeses and meats and a veggie and dip platter. ☺)
2. Choose all make ahead hors d’oeuvres
If you can make everything ahead of time then you can enjoy your holiday party.
You can even make some weeks ahead and freeze them until you’re ready.
One of my favorite, freezable appetizers is pastry puffs.
They can be made ahead and frozen. Then you can use ½ for a savory appetizer by filling them with chicken salad, home made or store bought. You choose. Then use the other ½ for a dessert by filling with vanilla pudding, again store bought or home made, and topping with chocolate glaze, store bought or home made.
Once recipe – two hors d’oeuvres!
½ cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
¼ t. salt
In a medium saucepan melt butter
Add water and bring to a boil
Add the flour and salt. Stir vigorously
Cook and stir until the ball does not separate
Remove from the heat and cool slightly for 5 minutes
Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon for a minute after each egg
Mix until smooth
Drop by heaping tablespoon, 3” apart, onto a greased cookie sheet
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
Cool on a wire rack
Once cool pack in an airtight container until ready to use
When ready to use slice horizontally and fill with your favorite filling, savory or sweet
3. Make only 1 or 2 appetizers that need to be cooked or heated
When I do an appetizer party I try to make most of my appetizers room temperature and only choose 1 or 2 that need to be cooked or heated at the time of the party.
You can also have a couple, like meatballs, or kielbasa, that can just stay warm in a slow cooker. That way they don’t need tending.
My favorite kielbasa recipe that can sit in the slow cooker on warm couldn’t be easier.
Heat 1 jar of Dijon mustard and 1 jar of red currant jelly in a saucepan, stirring until blended
Slice 1 or 2 packages of your favorite kielbasa into ½ inch slices and add it to the slow cooker
Top with the sauce
I also have friends that do grape jelly and cocktail sauce. It’s good too.
4. Make sure you have small plates, napkins and tooth picks on hand.
Small plates not only stop people from piling up food that they won’t end up eating, they are also easy to hold along with a cocktail while mingling.
Toothpicks are a great alternative to having silverware for everyone. Guests can easily pick up bites of kielbasa with a toothpick. Plus, fewer dishes to do!
5. Don’t fret too much about cleaning your house.
Your friends aren’t going to notice all of that if they’re having fun at your holiday party. Turn the lights down a bit, light some candles and just make sure your bathroom is clean.
6. Serve a Signature Cocktail
You don’t have to have a whole bar for your party. That can get expensive. You can serve a signature cocktail. My favorite for Christmas is a Candy Cane Cosmo.
1 1/4 ounces vanilla vodka
1 1/4 ounces white crème de cacao
3/4 ounce peppermint schnapps
Garnish: crushed peppermint candy
Wet a paper towel and run along the rim of a martini glass.
Dip the glass in the crushed candy and set aside.
Combine vanilla vodka, white crème de cacao, and peppermint schnapps in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, and strain into the glass. Enjoy!
If you don’t want to do a hard cocktail, you can always make a pitcher of white or red sangria. It’s easy and looks festive.
Round out your beverages by having a few pitchers of water that you’ve added lemons and/or limes too. Your guests need hydration. Water is super inexpensive. And, it’ll look pretty with the citrus in it.
7. Play the perfect music
Music really sets the tone for a party. Do you want it to be relaxed? Choose soothing, classic music. Do you want it to be upbeat and fun?
Choose some great dance music.
Choose a mood and then choose the music.
8. Send everyone home with a little something
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gift. You can make little gifts really easily.
Sending your guests home with a gift says you really care and makes them feel special.
One year I made marinated bocconcini, another fancy name, but this time for little mozzarella balls.
Simply fill a small jar with the cheese balls, or you can chop larger fresh mozzarella into chunks. Cover the cheese with a good olive oil and add some crushed red pepper, black pepper, dried basil, oregano and a fresh rosemary sprig. Easy! And the colors are festive.
Another one of my holiday favorites is bark. Simply melt your favorite chocolate and spread on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Before it hardens add your favorite crushed candy. I’ve used peppermint candies or toffee. I’ve also used white chocolate or dark chocolate. Refrigerate until hard. Break into pieces and package up. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Just like decorating, entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful and complicated. Make a few easy appetizers and desserts. Put on some great music. Serve your friends a cocktail and ENJOY!
Happy Holidays to you!
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