The key to hosting a fun holiday night is all about having a few essentials in place. By planning ahead, it helps keep a holiday meal from feeling overwhelming and allows you to really enjoy it. Five days before the event, confirm the menu. Three days before, set the table. Two days before, do your grocery shopping, especially since the day prior, stores can be incredibly busy and out of the essentials you might need. And the day of event, game on! So what do you need to host the perfect night? Here are a few of my party essentials:
1. A great appetizer. If nothing else, this is the first bite a guest will take and sets the tone for the evening. Usually, most guests come to a party starving and ready to eat, so having a few great apps is key. I love to have a few no fuss options always in my fridge so I can be ready for a get together in a pinch. These include castelvetrano olives, hummus, gluten free crackers and my favorite Vermont Creamery cheeses. Beyond the no fuss options, I love serving polenta rounds topped with pesto and tomatoes or goat cheese and sautéed mushrooms. While the polenta appetizer requires a little bit more work, the finger foods taste totally decadent and look like you have worked in the kitchen all day.
2. A signature cocktail. Having a signature cocktail definitely adds a festive tone to the holiday night. It’s a great way to welcome guests as well as a good conversation piece to kick off the night. My bar essentials include St. Germain, Vodka and some bubbly, which can easily be mixed and matched for the perfect specialty cocktail. Having some pomegranates on hand is also key as the beautiful jeweled fruits easily add a festive feel.
3. A delicious dessert. The perfect way to end the night is with a delicious, yet healthy dessert. Your guests leave with a memorable dish, and if they’re already full, it’s great to have a dessert they can even take home to remember the evening. Make something simple and easy to take home that you could even bake the day before – like cookies, bars or mini tarts.
p.s. Traveling this week? Then you may want brush up on how to be a gracious houseguest.