Thursday, December 1, 2016

5 Tips to a Fabulous Holiday Party

The Headlines:


Throwing a party for 6 or 26?

These tips work every time.



I really can't believe it's this time of year again.  I honestly feel like life is a series of moments.  Each one better than the last (if you're lucky) but the moments roar in and then out as fast they came.  It's like I just want to make time stand still.  So it can all soak in.

But with 2 kids, a husband, dog and household depending on you... that really can't happen.  Not much anyway.  I know you know what I'm talking about.  Sometimes, I feel it's even worse for BP (the husband).  If he's not at work, he's with the kids, if he's not with them, he may be with me, if he's not with either he's performing a "honey-do" chore... or maybe, once in a while, he's golfing.  There's not a lot of margin in his life.

So when the holidays come there's even less margin to move in.  And much, much more to do.  Like throwing a party.  We do one almost every year.  It's a lot of work but it doesn't have to be... well not thhaaaaaat much anyway.  Here are my tips for a raging one every time.


1 - It Starts w the Invite
However you do it... make it simple and easy.  Everyone is sending out e-vite these days.  I get it.  But I still like paper.  Even though I know it's more time consuming.  I quickly make a poem, print it and affix it to some poster board that I cut out.  Simple.  I made up this poem a couple years ago.

Here ye all you Christmas fans
It’s time to make some serious plans
Come to our home for lots of good cheer…
And if you’ve been good – maybe some beer.
We’ll eat and be merry.
We’ll even serve cherries.
Just come to our house on the eve of the day…
That makes all your children forever behave.
Bring mom and dad, sister and brother…
 Make sure that elf is running for cover. 
‘Tis the night that magic begins to fade…
That’s why you’ll be here – with joy on parade.
So please let us know if you’ll make such a date…
We can’t wait to see you --  it will be super great!

I actually put these invites INSIDE OUR CHRISTMAS CARD - that way you don't have to send a separate party invite.  It's all in one.  BAM.

2 -  Signature Cocktail
Once you get to the party, the first order of business is that drink.  People want to relax!  Plus, it also helps people feel welcome if you see them, offer them and deliver them their first drink.  You can let them fend for themselves after that... but it's always nice to start out that way.  3 things are key when it comes to the Holiday Cocktail:
  1. Give it a name (that's the Sparkle-tini below) - makes it more festive
  2. Add something fresh (those are raspberries)
  3. Unless you have a bartender make it EASY to assemble!

Always prepare a big batch before a party, then shake and pour each cocktail during it.  Click here: Sparkletini Recipe if you're interested.

3 -  Serve Finger Foods
You're at a party and while it's about eating, it's also about talking.  You can't talk with a big mouthful.  So grazing is really more in order.  Create your menu accordingly.  Serve things people can quickly pop in their mouths.  Dips, skewers, maybe finger sandwiches or arranged little appetizers.  They don't have to be fancy.  But they do have to be yummy!  Here are a couple I did last year.  The rolled pickles are, as my friend called it, "stupid easy."  You add some garlic powder to cream cheese, mix and then scoop it onto a small pickle with a meat surrounding it.  Stab it with a toothpick and done.



The one on the bottom: Smoked Trout on Cucumbers.  Both are attempts to add some healthy crunch to the night.  But also have plenty of dips on hand.  Like this Artichoke Dip or try these Heart Shaped Appetizers.  A little labor intensive, more than any of my others here at least... but worth it.

I like making my own apps but let's be real, you can also go to Costco or Trader Joe's where they have some stupendous ones you can buy!  I may end up doing that this year in all honesty.

Lastly, we also usually do a big hunk of a "fancy" red meat that we can easily cut and people can self serve sandwiches.  It's perf.

4 - Treat "Bar" 
Once people are done feeding their faces they may want something a little sweet.  Especially if you have kids around.  Have a variety of things.  Not all chocolate, not all fruit.  Arrange it in a cute way, different heights are key and use some cute baggies or bowls.



Then make sure there's one Show STOPPER.  Like these hot chocolate cupcakes.


I'd give you a recipe but really any chocolate cupcake will do - any frosting will work though this one is my FAV (add a tiny drop of peppermint extract if you want a cool twist on a vanilla frosting):

FROSTING RECIPE
This is what you need:
1 cup butter, softened
2 tspns vanilla
1/4 tspn salt
32 oz powdered sugar
6-10 tblspns of milk

This is what you do: Beat first 3 ingredients with mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with 1 tblspn of milk at a time, until all is blended and smooth.  DO NOT refrigerate.  

Then toast some marshmallows, throw them on top along with a peppermint stick!  DONE.  If you can, add labels for your candy bar.  It's a tiny effort for a big return.


By the way, to make Sugar Cookie Popcorn I just melted some Sprinkle White Chocolate and then drizzled it over the popcorn on wax paper, tossed and voila!

5 - Send Guests with a Take Away 
I don't do this every year but most years I give out a little something.   It doesn't have to be big.  In fact, it shouldn't be big!  Just a little something as they head out the door...


These ornaments from Walmart actually (shhhhhhh) are super elegant and super inexpensive.  I love the way they look all bunched together.  It's kind of a two-fer.  Decoration and that parting gift all wrapped up in one!

Finally tonight, The More the Merrier 
I've always thought if I have 6 people over, I may as well have 26.  Or 56.  My theory?  I'm already putting out the effort.  At the Holidays, people want to be festive.  They want to dress up, they want to eat, drink and be merry.  So this is the time not to exclude anyone.  Also, depending on when you have your soiree, lots might not be able to come... it's a busy time of year.  So invite them ALL!

But most of all, have a lovely season with your family.  Enjoy the moments... they grow more fleeting by the year.  Since time can't stand still you can at least stop, take a deep breath and just be in... listening, looking and loving what's before you instead of what's already passed or to come.

Then, you can party.