Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Delights That’ll Tickle Their Taste Buds at Your Next Holiday Buffet or Annual Gift Exchange

‘Tis the season to rock that buffet line! If you’ve been invited to a Christmas party and assured the host or hostess you’d bring a cover dish or scrumptious dessert, well then my advice has reached you just in time; if I’m too late, just keep these goodies on file for New Year’s Eve! Whatever the cause for celebration might be—whether you’re giving the party or just part of its receiving line—you’ll want to put your best foot forward when it comes to the food you bring/serve.

Dips and Crudités are a Buffet Staple
I’m a big advocate of the buffet because sit-down meals, though elegant and much enjoyed don’t allow your guests to mingle—and since many are return guests to your annual shindig, who only see each other AT your shindigs, they’ve got some catching up to do! Here’s a rule of thumb so guests can munch and gab without putting anything down to cut the meat—set up no less than 3 different surfaces (one for drinks, one for hot savory items, one for desserts) and serve as many finger foods as possible. That being said, veggies and dip, or crackers with an accent like my Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Spread is a great start to the festivities; this spreadable recipe looks great with holiday theme spreaders, and you can substitute eggplant for an equally amazing taste.

Where’s the Beef?
No holiday buffet line is complete without meatballs—get ‘em ready to go by spearing each with a toothpick and it’s no worries for your hungry guests. Mini Meatballs in Creamy Gravy can be made in advance and warmed up just as the yuletide fun begins. Just set a chafing dish or fondue pot on medium high. Another main dish standby that’s fun and fortifying are Open Face Mini Ruebens.

Make it a Sweet Affair
There’s no better way to christen a holiday dessert table than planting a gingerbread house in the center of it, and spreading around the goodies. 3 to 4 plates of cookies that offer a variety to Joe and Jane Sweettooth should suffice, two pies and an item you don’t get to enjoy any old day of the week, like Peanut Brittle and Butterscotch Blondies ought to do the trick; my two tried and true bolded desserts are so fast they’re practically done before you can finish singing the 12 Days of X-mas.

Cocktails Help the Good Times Roll
It wouldn’t be a party without the wet bar! I’ve counseled on this matter before, the last time being Labor Day weekend kicked up cocktails; it may have been summer then, but these chilled refreshments are still welcome in December. While some dream of a White Christmas, others dream of sipping White Sangria. It’s all there—just have a cooler full of ice waiting, and those telltale red party cups and you’re ready to roll!

Send Then Home with a Gift!
And now for the games…you know what’s unbelievably F-U-N at a Christmas party? A wacky gift exchange! In the invite, tell your guests to wrap a present that cost no more than $10—something amusing, like a Chia pet or funny calendar. Also known as the White Elephant Party Game, you’ll need someone to Emcee the event; this usually falls to the hostess. Everyone picks a number out of hat and takes turns approaching the gift laden X-mas tree with a chuckle and mock trepidation…am I really going to unwrap a fly swatter or tackiest T-shirt on earth? Once the first gift is unwrapped, the recipient sits down and anticipates whether the next party guest is going to unwrap something worth keeping, or decides to “steal”. The rules and regs of the game vary according to preferences of the host, but I believe this is standard: if a gift has already been stolen twice and you’re the third one to lay claim on it, you go home with it.

Santa’s presence at these things always kicks things up a notch! Once again, if these tips got to you too late and you’ve just attended or hosted your last X-mas party of the season, I hope you’ll file my ides under “C” for Chris Cringle. May every day feel festive. Here’s wishing you the best in 2011. May it be the best year yet!

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