The wonderful thing about the holiday season is that while everybody claims to not have a minute to spare, hardly anyone turns down an invite to see your tree and splurge on a little free wine and cheese.
Let's face it, even Scrooge ended up attending his family's party.
While it probaby won't take the spirits of Christmas past, present and future to bring guests to your soiree, advanced notice will.
Christmas tends to bring out the old-fashioned bit in all of us, be it with snail mailed Christmas cards or hand-written invitations. Although an e-invite or phone call works to save the date in a jam, if you have two or three days to spare, go the extra mile and mail an invitation to guests, too.
If you're on a deadline, take a shortcut and buy a pack of eight or 10 pre-printed invites at Target or Hallmark. This way the design work is already done and you just have to add the what, when and where before shipping them off.
Word to the wise: Yes, guests want to see your house and decorations, but they also want free food and drink. A few slices of cheese and a handful of Club crackers does not cut it. Asking guests to bring a dish to pass also adds to the spread and provides another outlet for conversation during the party. ("So ... how did you make this?")
While stores like Vince & Joe's Gourmet Fruit Market, Nino Salvaggio and even Kroger offer a variety of prepared deli, fruit and dessert plates, savvy shoppers (with time to spare) may find it cheaper to create their own mixed plates. Check Patch's Grocery Specials for coupons and if you don't have a store card (not to be confused with a store credit card), now is the time to get one.
In terms of hot appetizers, or hors d'oeuvre (if you're being fancy), the freezer section at your local grocery store should not be overlooked.
If you want to go homemade, here are a few suggestions to tempt your palate:
- Mini Cheesecakes, no bake
- Tomato Brie Bruschetta, three ingredients
- Cherry Chicken Tartlets, three ingredients
- Spiced Pumpkin Muffins, four ingredients
Beer, wine and soda are party standards, but a holiday-themed beverage is a memorable addition to a Christmas gathering.
Best advice is to go with what you know and for the safety of your guests, try something new ahead of time – not the night of the party itself. Have a family eggnog recipe? Show it off. No family beverage traditions? You can start one with one of the recipes below, or keep it simple and just buy a bottle of Bailey's to add to the coffee.