This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayPairings #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.
While the holidays can be a magical time, it can also be stressful, especially when it comes to entertaining. As if there weren’t enough things to stress about during the holiday season, there seems to be more pressure to host the perfect party this time of year. I like to blame it on the media. There are so many commercials and movies with scenes of picture perfect couples enjoying fabulous holiday cocktail parties. Who hosts these picturesque holiday parties? The answer could be you!
That’s right. With only a few simple steps, you too can throw a holiday party that looks amazing, yet requires very little work. Here is my step by step tutorial on how to host an easy and effortless holiday party.
STEP ONE: Strategically pick a party time
If you pick the right party time you won’t have to serve a full dinner. Less food, means less effort, and more fun on your part. When you invite your guests make sure they know it is a happy hour (before dinner) or cocktail party (after dinner). This way they will know not to expect a full dinner.
STEP TWO: Plan your menu
Now that you know you won’t be serving a full dinner, pick your party foods. Keep it simple, but make it heavy enough that people will be able to handle their alcohol. I like to serve cheese with crackers and hummus, one easy, but impressive, appetizer, and something sweet like cookies. I’m loving the big combo packs of crackers and cookies from Pepperidge Farm. One box is enough for a party of 6. This is a real time and money saver!
STEP THREE: Plan your drinks
It’s tempting to go all out and offer multiple drink selections, especially when you call your party a happy hour or cocktail party. Resist the temptation. Instead, stick with one type of drink. You all know I’m a big wine fan. I prefer to stick to a couple varietals of red wine for my parties (and I always keep a couple bottle of white in the fridge just in case). My latest holiday party was all about Clos de Bois red wine because it paired perfectly with the cheese on my Pepperidge Farm crackers as well as the chocolate in the Pepperidge Farm cookies.
STEP FOUR: Shop!
Plan your shopping trip well. Make sure you can get all your items in one stop. Nothing is more annoying than having to make multiple shopping trips. Check out your local Walmart for all the items I served at my last party. Be sure to visit the Simple Entertaining Hub here to find out about a tasting or pairing event at a Walmart near you! You won’t believe their wine selection and prices. My local Walmart had these wines for $5 less than other stores. That adds up fast!
STEP FIVE: Cook up one sure-to-impress appetizer
Find an appetizer that looks fancy, but is simple to make. I like to make something that is different and has an element of surprise to it. I achieved that goal with these salami pasta salad cups made from Bertolli Pronto pasta. The pasta doesn’t even require you to boil it! Talk about simple. Check out the recipe at the end of this post.
STEP SIX: Set out the serving dishes early
I always like to get a visual idea of what I’m working with well before the party is due to begin. I set out all my serving dishes about 3 hours in advance. I do this so that if I make changes, it won’t be last minute.
STEP SEVEN: Plate the food 15 minutes before guests arrive
You can keep cheese or other cold items in the fridge for longer if needed. I avoid serving anything hot for these type of parties. I hate when my food gets cold. I’d rather keep it chilled or room temperature. Not to mention, the stress of keeping food warm, but not burnt, until guests arrive can be overwhelming.
STEP EIGHT: Enjoy
Fix yourself a plate of food and a glass of wine. Mingle with guests and accept all the gracious comments about you being a fabulous host. Little do they know just how easy it is to host a holiday party without all the stress. Speaking of stress free, here is that easy recipe I promised.
- 1 box of Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta
- 12 slices of salami
- 1/2 of green bell pepper, diced
- 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/4 C. of grated parmesan cheese
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions.
- While the past cooks, make the salami cups by putting the salami in a cupcake tin. Keep them open by putting small balls of tin foil in each cup.
- When pasta is finished cooking, mix it with the bell pepper and tomatoes. Chill or serve warm by immediately putting the pasta in the salami cups. garnish with cheese, thyme, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
I loved hosting this little party for Tom’s family. They all kept telling me how nice the spread looked and how good the food was. It felt great to hear all those compliments knowing how little time and energy I spent on the prep!
What are your favorite tips for hosting an effortless holiday party? Be sure to check out more ideas here. I’d love to hear your favorites!