Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Party

Most years we have a Christmas party, of one type or another, often dependent upon our travel schedule and other holiday activities.  Most years I make the food and set up several different buffets.  Thankfully much of the cooking and preparation can be done well in advance and once it is out, it doesn't take too much work to maintain so I can enjoy time with my guests.  Some years we have added a server or two to help keep the buffets fresh and to assist guests with coats and snowy shoes. 

Some years we've had two parties; one for the neighbors and another for friends.  In other years we've had everyone together.  It really doesn't much matter so long as you have the room.  People meet new people and make new friends.  That's what the holidays are for!

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 My most usual method is to set a cold buffet on the dining room table, a hot buffet on the kitchen island, a beverage buffet on the kitchen table and a hot drinks buffet on the counter in the Great Room.  This spreads guests around the house, because as you know if you entertain, guests tend to hang out in the kitchen if that's where the food is at, and it can become overly crowded. 

My standard cold food items typically include a cold meat and cheese tray, a shrimp tray, a cheese torte, and a vegetable crudite.  On the cold table, I reserve one side for desserts.  Since I've been baking Christmas cookies, that is usually my star item, along with some cakes and other pastries.

For the hot table, my menu has varied pretty widely.  I do like to make little crab cakes, or if not that, a crab dip that you make with cream cheese and is always a big hit.  I suppose meatballs in that special sauce (grape jelly and cocktail sauce heated together... I know, sounds bad but tastes really good) are one of my more regular items.  Last year I  made Hawaiian style meatballs (pork with pineapple sauce) which were also quite yummy.  Small skewers with meats and vegetables are also a regular on this buffet, and in some years I've made lamp chops, chicken drumettes, and even a ham board (for sandwiches).

For the two drinks buffets, I'll just touch on a couple popular items.  The first is the punch bowl.  I'm not sure why it's so popular but it always is.  I make a simple punch using Hi-C Fruit Punch as the base.  To this I  simply add Seven-Up and a frozen fruit ring of limes and lemons frozen in punch.  It gives that pretty wreath effect and looks very holiday because it is bright red.  For whatever reason, the guests consume more of this than any other drink, even the wine, beer, soda pop and spirits that are available.  For the hot drinks, I usually provide coffee and hot chocolate.  To make these more festive, I provide a variety of additional ingredients, including shaved chocolate, cookie stirs dipped in chocolate and crushed peppermint, Godiva chocolate liqueurs, butterscotch schnapps, hazelnut and almond liqueurs, and flavored creams and whipped creams.  It's an 'assemble your self' treat that is also quite popular.

Well, speaking of parties I need to get busy on this year's celebration so I need to stop chatting on here and move along.  I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoy writing them.  Enjoy your holidays and keep on cooking!  It's what makes a house a home.

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