Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Entertaining

Last week my husband and I (at the last moment) decided to host a couple of holiday gatherings. Although my natural inclination is to go "formal" around Christmas, I was determined to make it a simple (and therefore a relaxingly enjoyable) festive affair.

Our dinner parties were back to back: one on Wednesday, and one on Thursday. I often like entertaining this way when the opportunity presents itself. You can purchase ingredients in bulk, make a similar menu, and keep the decorations and dishware the same for both events. I washed the tablecloth and napkins, and put them straight back on the table from the drier. Same for the dishes - straight from the dishwasher to the table for round 2. Made it so easy!

My menu for both evenings was soup. I made the soups on Tuesday evening because they always taste better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to blend.- Then all I had to do was put them in the crockpot a couple of hours before dinner.

Day 1:
Veggie (left over from braid), cracker, and hummer tray
Creamy Tomato Bisque
Chicken Broccoli Braid: made earlier in the day and refrigerated (reheat for 30 minutes at 250)
Spicy Apple Raisin Pie: made early in the day
Whipped cream

For Day 2:
Cheeseball (made last month and frozen for holiday use) and crackers
Ginger Carrot Soup
Ham Rolls (again, made early in the day and reheated 30 minutes before dinner)
Christmas Cookies (already made)

Even though these were very simple menus, I tried to make them special, festive affairs by using a Christmas tablecloth, cloth napkins, a live centerpiece, stemware, served the appetizers as soon as people arrived with sparkling drinks and wine, jazz-inspired Christmas music, and of course, we dined by candlelight. Everything was made in the morning (or before!), so all there was to do at the last minute was pour the water!

So when you keep things simple and plan ahead, it makes entertaining at the last moment, and during the busiest time of the year both doable and enjoyable!