As a decorator, I love to plan a party. I spend countless hours decorating my home for the Holidays. Nothing pleases me more than to open my door and have people enter my cottage with a huge smile on their face. They simply love my Christmas. After more years than I will confess, I find myself in a twinkly wonderland of happiness as I sit in my room during this time of the season. With a crackling fire in the background, I am in the moment.
The key to party planning is to over decorate, over invite and have more food and drink than you think you will need! I like to invite the hairdresser, the lawyer, the neighbor and the college kids. I am the “more the merrier” at a party, but have found a detail list of food and preparation important. I like to do almost everything in advance, and if it is in a crock pot, that works, but items in the oven tough to do during the party unless you have hired help. Also, use large enough trays so that you do not need to replenish. I set the table the day before with my platters labeled so that I remember all the items of food to set on the table. I set trays on coffee tables and around the kitchen and outdoors if weather permits. Filler items to set on side tables such as peanuts or popcorn are also nice. All décor is done the day before including new candles ready to be lit.
I like to do a timeline of what needs to be done before guests arrive. What items can be put out first and what remains for later. I have big tubs for bottled water, a must at every party, and stack another with wine and beer all iced down 2 hours in advance. Included in the timeline are food prep, bar set up, when to light candles and fire (have additional logs handy), and even down to when I need to finish getting ready. I hire at least one person to serve drinks and have them arrive early to get acquainted with where things are and duties. They can keep a watchful eye especially to prevent someone from being over served. I like to have ample trashcans (nice ones if you have them with extra bags in the bottom) so that trash can easily be emptied if needed. The use of nice paper or clear plastic plates and silver for extra large parties work as there is far less mess. I do like to have glass for drinks and stack these in the dishwasher in a couple of loads the next day.
My menu this year includes meatballs, pulled pork, smoked salmon, a beautiful array of Holiday season dips and veggies and gourmet cheeses. Champagne is the theme of the evening and we have a variety of recipes to offer. Two outdoor fire pits and a heater will keep us warm and I have added the making of s’mores to the enjoyment of the evening.
Hope to see you at the front door with a huge smile ready to toast the Season!