New Year’s Eve: The pinnacle of the entire holiday season! Whether you’re celebrating with a few friends at home or headed out for a night on the town, New Year’s Eve is the perfect way to ring in the new year with a fabulous outfit, friends galore, and, of course, fun cocktails!
So if you’re thinking of hosting some guests this New Year’s, here are a few ideas to get your party off on the right foot!
First, pick your start time carefully. If you’re having an evening affair, think about starting later than usual — think, 9 p.m. or even later — so that everyone can be fashionably late and still see the ball drop! Three or four hours is the perfect amount of time for a party to last, so accommodate the early birds and the late night-ers with a carefully picked start.
Next, set up a few small stations where guests can enjoy cocktails and appetizers at their own pace. I like to have a dish of canapes right when guests come through the doors, but I keep our main bar on the other side of the house. That way, people have to mingle and you don’t wind up with a crowd by the door and crickets everywhere else in your house. Especially if you’re having a large group over, this keeps things from getting too cramped!
Finally, put some thought into your cocktails! We spend so much time picking menus and choosing decor, and then forget to be creative when it comes to the most important part of a party: the cocktails! Wine is always great, but amp your party up a notch with unique holiday cocktails like Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha — trust me, when this bottle is on your bar, no one will be able to resist! Serve it with freshly made espresso (my recipe is below!) to keep the party going till midnight and beyond!
One last cute idea from the Kahlua Holiday website: before your guests arrive, decorate some of your glasses with peppermint rims to serve Kahlua Peppermint White Russians! I loved their easy DIY video for this beautiful, creative idea — what a fun way to make your holiday party extra special!
2015 is going to be an amazing year, and with these tips, you and your guests will be ringing it in with style!
Kahlúa is best when sipped responsibly. Stay safe this holiday season and don’t drink and drive!
Kahlúa Mocha Espresso
1 part Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha
1 part Espresso
1/4 tsp vanilla
Mix together Kahlua, vanilla and a fresh brewed espresso. Shake vigorously, and strain into your preferred serving glass.
Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Tags: holiday · sponsored
December 19th, 2014 · 9 Comments
So, last year, I faced the ultimate culinary challenge: a holiday meal for a dozen people.
And you’d think that would be a huge success, right? People do this all over the world, and it goes off without a hitch, so this Saveur-endorsed expert will have no trouble, right? The girl who’s piped eclairs and rendered duck fat and baked cakes from scratch?
Sure, you would think so.
And you would be wrong.
Don’t those potatoes look so great? Sure, they do. They look terrific.
But my guests, the ones who were supposed to be eating them for Christmas dinner last year… what did they get?
Oh, sorry. They got a bunch of burned potatoes.
And, you guys… I feel like I have some story to tell, but there’s no story here.
I was six months pregnant. I didn’t have a crying baby to look after or a seven-month sleep deficit.
I just tried my best at a holiday dinner, and… well, I burned the potatoes. In fact, I burned everything. The details aren’t really important, so let me just say: it was inedible. I spent all day cooking, and there was literally no edible food on our table. We didn’t even save the leftovers — and, yes, there were plenty. They went straight into the trash.
I felt awful. I felt so badly about ruining Christmas dinner that I could hardly talk about it for months — Chad had to pretend, every time I brought it up, that really, it wasn’t so bad. Sure, the potatoes were tossed into the garbage, but, even a holiday dinner sometimes goes awry; people understand. No one starved.
And as our family was leaving (after I’d given them enough dessert and wine to ensure they weren’t still actively hungry, even if they weren’t quite full), my mother in law told me that the first time she’d cooked for her husband’s parents, she’d done the same thing. She’d spent all day in the kitchen, planned a perfect menu, and then burned the whole thing.
And, you know what? Someday I hope to tell this story to our son’s wife. Some holiday, many decades from now, when I see her (and him! I’m raising a man who cooks, if it’s the last thing I do) take on the incredible effort of a holiday meal and see it go wrong, I’ll share this story. I’ll tell them about that time, a few months before he came into this world, when I bit off more than I could chew and came up just a little bit short.
And I’ll tell them about how we all laughed about it the next year (while eating the store-bought backup dishes I’m ordering this time around).
So, this year, turn on the Christmas lights. Open a bottle of wine. Play some great music and take a moment to focus on the faces of the people around your table. Because life goes by really fast, and this year’s burned potatoes are next year’s funny story. And a decade later, they’re a treasured memory of a time you tried and failed; a time you were just human and not superwoman.
So go ahead. Burn the heck out of those potatoes.
Tags: food · holiday · life
December 15th, 2014 · 1 Comment
As you guys know, I love to entertain.
Give me a free weekend with nothing on our agenda and I’ll figure out some excuse to have people over — sometimes with an hour or two of notice, sometimes with a month. When I have the time, energy, and resources, there’s nothing I like more.
And I’ve learned something really important from many years of obsessive hostessing: your guests want to see you. They’re not showing up to evaluate your home cooking or crafting as compared to Pinterest. They want to hang out; they want to catch up. They do not want you to be stuck in the kitchen whipping up homemade treats for them, all by yourself.
When we lived in New York, I learned this the hard way (sort of). I invited a dozen or so friends over to our apartment, and just placed a tray of toasted baguette slices into our oven when the doorbell rang with the first guest. Twenty minutes later, I had forgotten completely about those little toasts, and I was enjoying talking with a few friends when, suddenly, I smelled something… burning.
My homemade recipe was done-zo. Or, more accurately, ha ha, it was toast.
And, you know what? No one cared.
The party went on, I hung out with our friends, and the toasts were forgotten. No one starved.
And from that, I learned my lesson. The next time we invited friends over, I didn’t make everything from scratch. I bought some beautiful items, laid them out in a pretty way, and everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed the same as they always did.
I still love setting out the most beautiful dishes, and creating the prettiest table. But lately — especially with a new baby, when my time is not just limited but essentially nonexistant — I’ve been embracing the beautiful things that are also easy.
And on that note, let me introduce Shari’s Berries. These beautiful little treats are stunningly gorgeous, and they’re literally the perfect thing to break out when you want to present a beautiful table with very minimal effort.
Also, they make chocolate-covered Oreos with Christmas decorations on them. Are you sold yet?
I picked out some of my favorites for this post, but there are so many more beautiful options on their websites. From handmade snowmen brownie pops to cake truffles in gift boxes with quirky little sayings, their website has everything you need to be the ultimate holiday hostess.
So sit back, relax, and don’t burn the toast.
Tags: food · holiday · sponsored