Saturday, December 7, 2013

Leader Enterprise - Dec 4 2013 - Holiday Party Tips & Treats


It's party time! December is known as the month when we spend money left and right. Here's a few ideas and tips to throw a great holiday party and keep your budget in check at the same time. These were shared in an article I read at Foodie Friends Friday's Daily Dish e-zine online.


Invitations: Be creative with your invites and set a theme for your party. To keep up with the style of technology you could send out an E-vite. Make sure you send out your invites at least two weeks in advance. But two important things to remember when putting together you invites: Include a start and end time, and clearly include the type of party you are hosting (cocktail, dinner party, etc...). That way your friends will know what to expect and when the party will end.


Decor: Cheap is the name of the game when hosting a great party, especially if you are inviting a crowd. Tea lights are a fabulous decor piece, and you can place them in small drinking glasses with your choice of Christmas decorations (greenery, ribbon, tree ornaments, etc.). String those white lights around your doorways, windows, or on the buffet table. And don't forget the mistletoe over the doorways.


Music: You'll want to set the mood of your party with some popular Christmas music.   Choose wisely, you don't want to put your guests to sleep. Choose Christmas music that will keep toes tapping. And don't forget, when the music ends and lights come on, hat is usually a good sign to let your guests know that the party is ending.


Snacks: Unless you are planning a full blown meal, your party should start way before dinner time or well after. It is important to offer an assortment of snacks. Everyone loves food at a party. You don't have to slave in the kitchen all day. You could design a self-serve buffet that is overflowing with finger foods.


Tortilla pinwheels with ham/pickle or veggies/cream cheese
Olives and nuts in bowls scattered around the room
Cheese trays mixed with fruit and baguette slices
Homemade Chex Mix or White Christmas Mix
Look Festive Yourself: You are the master of this party, so dress it up. Wear something festive, bright, but elegant to set the mood. Try putting flowers or ribbons in your hair, or wear a festive hat. Your guest will smile right away when you great them at the door.
Don't send your guests away empty handed: Gather some simple party favors to place by the door (a big bowl of candy canes, cookies, or an assortment of both). That way your guests can grab some to put in their pockets on the way out. You might even consider the old fashioned gift swap or secret santa scheme. You would have to include the gift swap idea in your invitations though.
The secret to great entertaining? It doesn't have anything to do with the foods you prepare, the drinks you serve, or the music you play. It's all about being friendly and adding that spice of personalized imagination to each and every little piece of celebration. You should be happy,joyful when your guest come to the door. Don't stress about what you have to offer, stay within your budget and you will have the best party ever. Your guests will want to return. Make your guests feel like they are part of something magical. It is the holiday season, of course.
WHITE CHRISTMAS MIX

1 lb. white chocolate (or vanilla almond bark)
Melt in double boiler or microwave according to directions

Mix together:
3 c. Rice Chex
3 c.  Corn Chex(or combined-6 c. crispix cereal)
3 c. Cheerios
2 c. mini pretzels
2 c. peanuts
1 lg. bag of (holiday) M & M's-plain or peanut, optional. Pour white chocolate over everything and mix well. Let dry and place into gift containers.


PRETZEL PRETTIES


13 oz. bag Rolos (or 6-7 rolls)
1  1# bag tiny twists pretzels
1 bag (holiday) peanut M & M's

Line cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay out pretzels, place one unwrapped rolo on top of pretzel. Bake at 300 for 5-6 minutes or until chocolate becomes shiny. Take out of oven, place M&M on each one, smashing down rolo. Let cool for 10 minutes, then place entire sheet in fridge or cold room to set for at least 1 hour. This is so great because you can make few or many at a time. A cookie sheet full will make 70-90 treats. May also top with pecan halves instead of M & M's.


I recently made these for a party and they were a real hit.  Be sure to stock up on meatballs when they're on sale. These will be the talk of the party!



CROCKPOT CRANBERRY SAUERKRAUT MEATBALLS


1 (14 ozs) can whole-berry (or jellied) cranberry sauce

1 (14 ozs) can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained well

1 (12 ozs) bottle chili sauce

3/4 c. brown sugar

1 ( 2 #) pkg. frozen fully cooked original meatballs

In 4-qt.slow cooker, combine cranberry sauce, sauerkraut, chili sauce, and brown sugar. Stir in meatballs; cover and cook on low 3-4 hrs. or until heated through. Yield: 5-1/2 dozen delicious meatballs!!

These awesome treats are great for parties because they can be made ahead 1 week if desired. They are chewy, caramel-y bites of YUM that folks will create a fuss over.

DATE BALLS 
1-1/4 sticks (10 Tb) butter
1 c. white sugar
1 (8 ozs.) pkg. dates, chopped(not pre-packaged chopped dates)
3/4 c. finely chopped nuts (we like pecans)
2 c. rice krispies cereal
powdered sugar or coconut flakes  

In skillet over medium heat, combine butter, sugar and dates; cook until thick like jam, stirring often. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and cereal. Allow to cool until you're able to handle them, then roll into walnut-sized balls and drop them into a bowl of powdered sugar or coconut flakes. Roll and store in covered container for up to 2 weeks. Yield: about 20. 


Thought this idea from Reader's Digest was worth sharing: What are the holidays without strings of lights, and what are fresh-out-of-storage cords of lights if not tangled? Grab an empty coffee can and its lid. First, slice the plastic lid of the can with a sharp knife and insert one end of the cord. Then wrap the cord of lights around the can, taping the end to the can to keep everything in place. Before putting on the lid, fill the can with extra bulbs and an extension cord. No tangles, no misplaced accessories.