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holiday cocktail party tips

by Yee-Fan Sun
 1 2

Outside, the temps have dipped down to freezing, and you can’t walk down the city streets without bumping into one cranky shopper after another, each more hell-bent than the next on forcing you out of their path as they barrel on to the next store. It’s a cold harsh world out there – but indoors in your cozy pad, the big (or little) tree is up, the string lights are a-twinkling, a plate of fresh-baked gingerbread cookies sits on your coffee table, and all is well. The only thing missing? The company of your favorite people in the world, of course! Which is why now is the time of year when so many of us find ourselves opening up our homes, and hosting a holiday cocktail party.

If you’re busily planning for your very first cocktail fete – or just looking for ways to host a fun shindig that still leaves you with enough funds to do your holiday shopping – check out these tips on food, drink, décor and more…

have a bite…
Figuring out how much food to cook for a dinner party is one thing, but planning edibles for a cocktail-centric party can be a lot trickier. Some folks are likely to arrive having already eaten a regular meal, while others might be looking for more substantial sustenance. So how much should food do you really need?

For a typical cocktail party lasting a few hours, I generally plan to make between 4 to 6 different nibbles, and allow for a couple of bites for every guest. A balance of fancier finger foods and easy dippy things keeps the flavors, textures and visuals interesting, without forcing you to live in the kitchen for three days in preparation of your shindig. To ensure the food spread more than satisfies guests’ needs, it’s also a good idea to further supplement your homemade goodies with a few no-fuss eats like nuts, olives, gourmet chips, fruit and/or a cheese plate, things that can be picked up straight from the store and simply popped into a bowl or onto a plate to serve. (To save some money on nuts, skip the overpriced gourmet tins and buy from the bulk bin. You can roast them up and flavor them yourself; they’ll keep for at least a few weeks, which means you can make them way ahead of time.)

Meanwhile, for me, holiday time is very much about all the yummy sweet baked goods. So while desserts aren’t typically associated with cocktail hour, having a big plate of festive holiday cookies to appeal to guests’ sweet tooths is pretty much a must. Alternatively, for something a wee bit more elegant, you might try whipping up some decadent chocolate truffles. Meanwhile, pick up some holiday M&Ms and mini candy canes while you’re out grocery shopping too, and scatter bowls of them around your pad.

the fun and reindeer games continue this way!

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