If you decorate your house for Christmas, then it should be pretty easy to throw in a few touches for a pre-pub-crawl party. Cover the table in a festive plaid tablecloth ($40), then place the food on a white serving platter, decorative tray — I love this reindeer one ($5) — or red bowl. Light candles and plug in the lights on your tree. Fill a bucket with ice and drinks and serve the cocktail in a punch bowl. Candy canes are a great party favor and a sprig of mistletoe is sure to add some excitement!
One way to get people talking at a holiday party is to serve punch. Not just any punch, but an interesting punch that uses less common spirits. People wondering what's in it will get the conversations started.
This punch recipe has Bols Genver (a Dutch alcohol with a flavor profile similar to gin), St. Germain, and Aperol. Fresh grapefruit juice gives it a festive color and delicious tartness. No simple syrup is necessary because the St. Germain is floral, sweet, and syrup-like. To look at the recipe, keep reading.
Here's an affordable and fun holiday party idea: invite friends over for decadent appetizers, then take a tour of the bars in your neighborhood. Instead of serving a bunch of food and drinks all night, you just have to make enough for each guest to have a couple bites and one-to-two rounds of drinks. For an easy spread of sweets, fill small bowls with red and green M&Ms and Hershey's Kisses.
Also offer a quick and uncomplicated make-ahead dessert, like the three-layer no-bake bars seen here. The bottom layer is a crumbly mixture of graham crackers, sugar, and cocoa powder. The creamy middle is a combination of vanilla pudding mix, milk, and powdered sugar. The top is a rich glaze of dark chocolate.
Made in a large casserole dish, this dessert is an ideal option for a potluck. Interested in the looking at the recipe? Read more.
Last December, my family started a new tradition: a holiday pub crawl! We met for heavy hors d'oeuvres at a cousin's house, then afterward took a tour of the neighborhood's best bars. It's a casual but festive style of soirée, and since everyone always has lots of parties to attend, friends and family members can stop by for one drink or take part in the entire crawl. When planning the first leg, offer a good quantity of appetizers with an assortment of textures and flavors: serve something cheesy, something meaty, and something seafood. Baked camembert is sophisticated and colorful when topped with sun-dried tomatoes; pair with crackers and bread.
Meatballs are a classic holiday bite, but update them by using ground lamb and exotic spices rather than the same old pork-beef mixture. Tuna tartar on thick-cut potato chips is addictive and irresistible. Head to the store for the rest of the menu; pick up your favorite crudités with ranch dip, charcuterie, nuts, or olives. To check out the suggested recipes, keep reading.
Hosting a holiday party? Serve punch! Making a punch saves time and is more affordable than stocking an entire bar. It's also a great way to get the party started: people can mix and mingle while they fill their glasses. A celebratory punch made with sparkling wine is especially festive. Garnish with cranberries or circles of citrus. Don't be afraid to get creative with the recipe; the one suggested here is basic. Substitute a floral liqueur like St. Germain for brandy, and use what ever kind of sparkling wine — Rosé, Cava, Prosecco, etc. — you want. For the easy technique to this simple party punch, keep reading.
It doesn't matter what kind of party you're hosting, be it a brunch, dinner, or cocktail party, you should always offer dessert. Why? Because no soirée is complete, especially during the holidays, without a sweet finish! For a holiday open house where guests will be coming and going at different times, set out a platter of chocolate mint divinity. Divinity is a nougat-like confection that's made with egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar. With the addition of peppermint extract and crushed candy canes, this variation is a Christmasy twist on the classic divinity.
Prepare it up to three days in advance and store at room temperature. To check out the recipe, keep reading.
Don't be scared to host a holiday party. With a little planning and creativity, one can easily throw together a fabulous shindig. A holiday open house is ideal because it doesn't involve making a complete meal, and it's less formal than a cocktail party. Begin the open house in the afternoon or late evening. Offer a couple of uncomplicated but classic apps alongside store-bought nuts, olives, and charcuterie. Chicken skewers are always a hit, and they're delicious fresh from the oven or at room temperature. Puff pastry pinwheels are one of my go-to recipes during the holidays. Fill with cheese and herbs in advance, then slice and bake as needed.
Lastly serve an assembled hors d'oeuvre, like bacon wrapped apricots, which requires nothing more than a quick bake in the oven. Interested in these recommended recipes? Keep reading.
Keep things chic, simple, and elegant for a Hanukkah cocktail party. Make the menorah the focal point and let everything else fade into the background. Serve the latkes on a large silver platter and the crostini on a wooden board. Display the orange cake on a white cake stand and stack small square plates, like these one from Crate & Barrel ($20) near the food. Light lots of candles, arrange a bouquet of pretty flowers, and pick up disposable Hanukkah napkins from the local party supply store. Set a carafe with blood orange juice on the bar and place glasses (I love this 8-piece Sierra Set $11) in neat rows next to it. Don't forget to fill bowls with chocolate gelt!
How are you celebrating Hanukkah?
Guests attending a holiday cocktail party will expect cocktails, but to ensure that the hostess isn't tending bar all night, serve a pitcher drink or punch or set up a small bar and invite friends to pour their own beverage. Here's how you do it: Select an easy drink recipe, like this one for a bourbon and blood orange blast that's featured here. Write out the directions for the cocktail and set out an ice bucket, cocktail shaker, jigger, and the ingredients. Alternatively, place the blood orange juice alongside vodka, gin, and bourbon. Fill a small pitcher with simple syrup and one can make a blood orange martini or the blast. Remember to place plenty of napkins and fresh towels on the bar.
To get the proportions of the suggested libation, keep reading.
When hosting a holiday cocktail party, be it a tree-trimming or an ugly sweater celebration, don't forget about dessert. Your guests are going to want something sweet to nibble on. Select a treat that's special but can be made in advance and supplement with store bought truffles or chocolate gelt.
For Hanukkah, I recommend this orange cake with apricot glaze. It takes advantage of the flavors of fresh citrus, which is in season. The combination of whipped egg whites and olive oil results in a super moist and fluffy cake.
The fact that there's no frosting will make it easy to eat with just your fingers. It's also a great hostess gift, so be sure to check out the recipe after the break.