Welcome to the Darling Holiday Party Guide. We will be featuring different aspects of parties over the next couple weeks–whether you are hosting one, bringing food to a potluck, or trying to find what to wear, we hope this is helpful to you this holiday season! 

Let’s start with making food for your own party! So you decided to throw a small soiree at your place; or maybe it’s a full on bash. The invites are sent and the guest list is filling up. It’s now time to get the menu together. You open your fridge to find a lone, wilting celery stalk among other stale items. Face it; it’s time to get to the nearest grocery store. You want to serve items that are appealing, yet healthy and tasty. Instead of buying the pre-made appetizer items, make some tasty bites that are economical as well. Let’s start with some ideas that are easy to make and will please a large group:

Fruit

Perfectly arranged fruit can be a beautiful edible display. Many fruits are available year round, but choose some that are easy to prep, like blackberries, apples, pears, grapes, and oranges. Or maybe you want to ditch the fruit platter idea and do some fun fruit kabobs. To be a little crafty, try using a block of green florist foam and cover it with a piece of fabric to tie in your party colors. Stick the kabobs into the foam and now you have some eye pleasing appetizers.

 

Salads

They are the perfect party starter. There’s such a range ingredients you can use, the options are endless. I would start off with some baby mixed greens or spinach, then add some candied pecans, dried cranberries, strawberries, or sliced apples. Here is an excellent recipe for one of our favorite spinach salads:

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Directions:
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.


Cheese Platters

It’s usually a party favorite and the staple of a classy event. The great thing about cheese platters is that they take minimal preparation, allowing you get back to other to-do’s.

There’s a 1-2-3 process to having a hit cheese platter:

1. You need a couple of soft cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Stilton, or Goat cheese.

2. You need a couple of firm cheeses: Asiago, Gouda, or Vermont Cheddar.

3. You need cheese’s friends:  Choose crackers, bread, or both. Also, put some grapes, nuts and jams on the side to provide good accompaniment to the cheeses. Just make sure to leave the cheese out for a half an hour before the guests arrive.

 

Impromptu Cupcake Stand

Maybe you don’t have all the party platters you thought to buy early on in the year, and the holidays swung around the corner faster than you could say “December.” It’s okay; this is only another opportunity to get creative. Instead, use dinner plates and sturdy glasses, or a glass vase. Be creative with what you fill the glass with, such as mini candy canes, pine cones or cut some Evergreen sprigs. Steady the glass in the middle of the bottom plate and stack the next one on top. Only stack it three plates high, using a smaller glass for the top one, but don’t go taller–you don’t want a holiday mishap!


Yummy Sugar Cookie Cups

This recipe is so easy! Pillsbury Sugar cookie dough and mini cupcake pans are the basis for these desserts. With a teaspoon, fill the mini cupcake molds with the dough. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, take the bottom of the fork to open up the middle and create the cup shape. Once they are cooled, fill these cups with Bavarian cream, and top with raspberries or blueberries to create a unique treat. Or fill them with chocolate or lemon pudding.


Candy Cane Creations

Candy canes are multi-taskers! Here are a few ideas:

Chocolate Dipped Candy Canes: Melt some dark, milk, or white chocolate in the microwave. Dip each candy cane and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Just make sure to have enough time to let them chill before you serve.

Candy Cane Name Tags:  This will make some trendy and timely placeholders for your guests.To make, you need some basic craft necessities: ribbon, a nice writing pen, and some gift tags. Tie each of the tags with the guest’s name, and fasten it to the candy with a nice little bow. Or tuck it inside the napkins for an accent.

Candy Cane Centerpiece: Grab a box of candy and create a beautiful centerpiece. Find a cheap cylindrical vase, hot glue, and some beautiful ribbon. Glue each candy cane to the vase, side by side. Add some flowers, and you have a gorgeous centerpiece. Cranberries and willow branches also create an extravagant buffet piece. For your New Year’s celebration, sub candy canes for some festive party horns.


Beverage Stand

The Hostess would rather spend the night before preparing cocktails for the guests, instead of being in the martini shaking shackles during her party. Give yourself the opportunity to mingle with your friends by writing a few recipes on cards with the ingredients available on the table. That way guests have the choice of how they want their drink. Also give guests the option to go sans-alcohol as well by putting out hot cider or cocoa. Or, put some bottled sodas and small Martinelli’s on ice, adding a classy vintage feel to your holiday bash.

 

 

Photo Credits:

loseitthehealthyway.tumblr.com, www.weheartit.comdandelionmama.files.wordpress.comflickanokakorna.se,

http://unspokenfairytales.tumblr.com/post/13337959868

http://18and.tumblr.com/post/13826747796blisstree.com

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