Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday EntertainingI

Everyone seems to be going to a Holiday Party or having a Holiday Party as in my case this busy month of December.

I don't have family to celebrate the holidays with so last year I decided to have a Holiday Open House Party with some of my friends in between Christmas and New years when some people are still off work but over the Christmas Holidays but still looking for something to do.

So Last year I started this when I was living in a house and had room for a couple of extra drop ins..but what they didn't know was that I planned to have a little gift exchange. Last year I knew I was probably going to have to be moving at some point soon so I decided to give away things that I wasn't using or never used. It was a whole assortment of things like candle sticks, makeup products and decorative items. Everyone loved it and were not expecting anything so it was a conversation starter and a fun thing to do. This year was a bit more of a challenge. Since I moved from a house to an apartment in July I had to get rid of a huge amount of stuff when I moved that I probably would have had things I could have given to my friends this year but I didn't have the space to keep it all so it went. I still wanted to do the gift exchange so this year I concentrated on little gifts that were things like food gifts like chocolates, mugs with hot chocolate, and a bunch of other things. It cost me more this year but it made everyone happy. Next year I think I will try something different. I will try and expend less energy and money and have everyone participate more in the party by bringing an unwanted gift and do a re gift exchange and maybe a food exchange too. That way it's fun and people can possibly give something they don't want to someone that might want it. One person's junk..... and when it comes to the food part... here's what I did and here's what I will do next year....

This year I made the above little brownie Santa hats... an idea I got from watching the show The Chew. It went over really great ... Next year I will do it again but next time use frosting instead of whip cream so I can do it all in advance and not worry about it keeping all day.

What i also did this year is make 2 big salads... next time I will only do 1... I made a super healthy one and nobody knew what to do with that so it stayed.

One new thing I made was a hot crab dip... that went over big and may do that again but I think next time I will find a way to keep it hot like putting it into a fondue pot or something so it stays bubbling longer.

I also had assorted cheeses..seems like everyone likes cheddar... will keep the cheddar and skip other cheeses... less mess... I had all sorts of crackers... good but will have 1 or 2 next time.. too many things equals too many plates, choices and things to clean up later.

I also had cut up time I will just pick up a store bought veggie platter.. back to less prep work and less mess to clean up.

So I learned a few things...

1. Try and know what your friends like or don't like.
2. Don't do too many things.. it just takes a lot more time and things get overlooked.
3. Keep it simple and as fresh as you can get it.
4. Think about the cleanup afterward because that's part of the party too. I ran out of kitchen space from all the clean up of dishes and containers.

5. Make sure you have everything set up as much in advance so that you aren't spending your time setting up, serving and cleaning up during the party.

Next year... I am going to think Big Dishes...

1. A Casserole
2. A Big Salad
3. One platter veggies and dip
4. One hot dip and chips/crackers
5. A desert that doesn't require utensils

These are the things I have learned over the past couple of parties. Have good food and have more fun.

This is what it looked like before the food was everywhere... Too many things ...not enough room.

My Holiday Party Advice.. Although my friends loved the food... I know I could have made it easier on myself and had more room to move around if I kept things simpler..

I tend to get carried away and always like to have choices for people but then it ends up being just too much and goes to waste. I know I am not the only one that does this. I have a friend that could have 2 parties by the amount of food he has at one party. But you never know if someone will drop in or not. In my case a couple of people couldn't make it... so I know most of the food would have been gone if they came.

While I am no party expert I have learned a few things over the years and every year I try and do better. I get inspired from all the food and party planning segments on daytime television so if you don't know what to do take some cues from the experts that are on those shows..or there is always Martha Stewart.

Unleash your inner Martha Stewart and have a Fun Holiday Party.

Bigger and Better Next Year

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