I don’t give a whole lot of parties, so when we decided to have a Christmas gathering I got a little anxious before making myself sit down to create a “to do” list. That made things ever so much easier, and I hope you will find some of these tips helpful.
Three weeks in advance, send invitations. Paperless Post is an easy way to do this and makes it very convenient for guests to RSVP.
A week or more ahead of time, create a centerpiece for the serving table. For me, that sets the stage for everything else. As soon as possible, get out your favorite cookbooks and look for new food ideas that will go well with old favorites. By the way, don’t be afraid to include some of the very good prepared party foods from Costco, Trader Joe’s or Sam’s. That makes your work much easier.
Once the selections are made, make a thorough shopping list. Nothing is more frustrating than getting ready to make something and finding you don’t have all the ingredients.
Make a workable schedule for food that can be prepared several days in advance so that everything doesn’t have to be done at the last minute. Doing as much as possible ahead of time is a great stress reliever!
Look through your cabinets for serving pieces that work for your menu items and complement the centerpiece.
Lay out the serving pieces, plates and napkins to make sure they are cohesive. FYI, this is one time I use paper!
Stand back and with a critical eye judge your setup and make any changes that make the table more inviting.
With all the preliminaries done, you can take a deep breath knowing that you’ve got everything under control. Of course, even easier than this is having the party catered, but if you bypass that option, it’s a good idea to have a helper in the kitchen during the party. Having someone refill empty dishes and keep everything orderly in the kitchen allows you to enjoy the party without worry.
For any gathering, I like to keep things as simple as possible and have a few favorites like this blue cheese spread that take only minutes to prepare.
Mix blue cheese, roquefort or gorgonzola with fig preserves or one like this roasted garlic/onion jam from Stonewall Kitchen. I generally use more cheese than preserves, but there’s no fixed rule so make it to satisfy your own taste.
Serve with rosemary raisin crackers from Trader Joe’s.
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