Holiday Entertaining Ideas
For many of us the holiday season is a chance to entertain our family and friends. There are so many opportunities and ways in which this can be accomplished. I think in part that is why we like and enjoy this time of year. It is easy to decorate our homes with Poinsettias, pine cones, and beautiful centerpieces. I decorate my mantle with fresh garland, oranges with cloves, pears, pomegranates and candles. I love scented candles that make our homes smell wonderful and give the room a glow. Lights on the house and wreaths on the door all tell us it’s the holiday season. Light a fire in the fireplace if you have one and relax with family or friends.
One of the most ideal ways to entertain is the holiday cocktail party. This is generally quite simple. One can send out written or printed invitations which I prefer over the trendy ‘e-vite’ mania. If it’s a small gathering phone call invitations are appropriate. Once you determine the number of guests attending you can start to write a list of drinks and appetizers you would like to serve. It is not necessary that you serve every drink under sun. Keep it simple by offering three or four drinks you know your guests will enjoy. You don’t want to stand near the stove all night, so serve hot and cold appetizers. People love Hot Bacon Dip and Hot Artichoke Dip with assorted crackers or pita chips. You could serve a cheese platter, a pesto bruschetta and fresh cold shrimp with cocktail sauce. The general rule is that you will need seven appetizer servings per person if cocktails are not followed by dinner. One more thing: You do not need to pull everything out the second your guests arrive. Take their coats, and serve drinks immediately, interest peaks when you bring something new out of the oven.
Having a holiday open house is an old fashioned favorite. It can be a Sunday afternoon family event or a Friday night after work event. Either way, it’s a nice way to say “stop by, and visit”. It’s also a crowd manager. People come and go at different times so you can invite more people knowing they won’t all be there at the same time. Either time of day you might consider serving small sandwiches, platters of holiday cookies and drinks. You can serve glasses of wine, hot chocolate or apple cider if children are attending. You could serve cups of soup in small soup bowls or coffee mugs like Creamy Potato and Leek Soup. Spiced nuts and candies are popular. Set up a pretty buffet, with a menu resting on a place card holder or small plate stand. Invite guests to serve themselves. Be prepared to restock your platters, so it looks fresh for newly arriving guests. And be sure to welcome everyone. If you have the time, fill a small cellophane
To me Christmas Eve is of the most cherished night of the year. Anticipating its arrival is especially fun if you have children. Generally, it’s a dinner event, and circumstances may dictate what you serve. If you have family for dinner you may already have traditions that transcend the years. Some people find themselves without family and invite friends that are in the same boat to share the holiday. Either way, serving good food and drinks are a must. I know families that go all out with appetizers, a cocktail hour, followed by hot soup, beautiful salads, ham or smoked turkey, potato and leek gratins, and roasted vegetables. Some people like to keep it simple with Christmas Eve soup, sandwiches and drinks. For me, I prefer the fancier Christmas evening dinner.
I want guests to walk in the door, think my house smells wonderful, the table is beautiful and the food is fantastic. I want a seasonal dessert like an eggnog cheesecake or a cheesecake covered in chocolate ganache. I like to serve Irish Coffee following dinner and call it a night after all we have to get to bed so Santa can come!