It’s the Most Delicious Time of the Year

23 Dec

One of my favourite parts of the holiday season is the apparent acceptance of indulgence. Never one to turn down a fun cocktail or an extra serving of dessert, I take particular joy in the fact that so many of my friends and family members are more than happy to join in at this time of year, making me feel like a little less of a gluttonous lush. With an abundance of festive drinks and rich snacks, there’s truly something magical about holiday parties. So even if you come for the company but stay for the spiced Nog, here are some Christmassy suggestions for any remaining festivities or for next year’s get-togethers…

The Booze:

Even if you don’t have all your food prepared in time, you should at least have some drinks out to offer guests upon arrival. A do-it-yourself cocktail bar is always handy with some previously prepared additions such as sugar-rimmed glasses filled with muddled fruit, or a jug of a pre-mixed cocktail. This year I tried two new drinks, one called “The Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Food Network’s Sandra Lee consisting of plum wine, champagne, cranberry juice and a gum-drop garnish, and another (which I made up), consisting of muddled cranberries, vanilla vodka, sparkling apple juice, a cinnamon-sugar rim, a cinnamon stick for stirring, and a splash of cranberry juice. If you’re looking for a wintery shot to throw down with friends, try a Polar Bear shooter with Crème de Menthe, Crème de Cacao and vanilla vodka.

DIY Cocktail Bar: Gum-drop garnishes, sugar-rimmed glasses filled with muddled raspberries and an assortment of alcohol

Holiday Cocktail: Muddled cranberries, cinnamon-sugar rim, sparkling apple juice, splash of cranberry juice, cinnamon stir-stick

Friends saying a holiday 'cheers' with Polar Bear shots

The Food:

Once drinks are in hand and ravenous hunger pains are somewhat pacified by the soothing effects of alcohol, you can focus on finishing up your edible spread. For holiday get-togethers, I’m a big fan of finger-food buffets, which allow guests to take as much or as little as they like, and go back-and-forth between sweet and savoury, because sometimes you don’t want to wait until everyone’s done their main course before enjoying some sinfully sweet homemade cake-pops.

Home-made cake-pops in candy-cane, coconut and chocolate

For a party I recently attended where a few of us contributed, my friends and I made an assortment of delicious delights including veggies and dip in a cup (easy to eat and avoids the awkwardness of double-dipping), holiday cupcakes, sautéed onion and brie-filled Filo pastry twists, flat-bread pizzas, and turkey meatballs covered in tomato sauce and grated parmesan.

Sautéed onion and brie stuffed Filo twists

Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce and grated parmesan

Home-made holiday cupcakes

If you don’t have a lot of time to sweat away in the kitchen, cheese and crackers, including a simple baked brie wheel, are always popular additions, as well as treats picked up from a local bakery, many of which offer festive designs that are almost too pretty to eat…almost, but not quite.

Cupcakes from Victoria's Ooh La La Bakery: Gingerbread, cranberry-orange, eggnog and chocolate flavours

The Ambiance:

When planning decorations keep things relatively simple, and stick to a particular colour palate as mentioned in the post The Art of Living.

And last but certainly not least: the music. My recommendation is to go for holiday jazz. Jazz may be a somewhat clichéd dinner party pick, but when it’s smooth and soft, it makes for the ideal background that isn’t as jarring as Mariah Carey scream-singing in “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

If you don’t have time to run out and grab a holiday CD or have no clue where to begin when making your own playlist, check out Grooveshark. Simply searching “Christmas Jazz” will give you a large variety of ready-made playlists including classic favourites as well as lesser-known jazzy gems.

Most importantly remember to have fun. If you didn’t get everything done or if your pastries aren’t baked to perfection, don’t worry. Your guests will likely never know, and above all, you should never apologize. At least you didn’t put some Cheetos in a bowl and call it a day.

*For recipes, email me at shorttandsweet@gmail.com or message me on Twitter!

*For more on Christmas and holiday eats, check out these stories I wrote for EAT Magazine: Where to Dine Out on Christmas Day and Festively Free-Range: Where to Buy Your Holiday Turkey

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3 Responses to “It’s the Most Delicious Time of the Year”

  1. ingrid davis 23/12/2011 at 11:19 AM #

    Ellie,

    I just listened to your interview on the radio; it was very informative and enjoyable; well done!! I liked your idea for vegetables in a cup. I am one of the worst for double dipping; always trying to turn the carrot stick around so I dip on the other side.
    All the best for the season
    Ingrid

    • Shortt and Sweet 24/12/2011 at 3:41 PM #

      Thanks Ingrid!

      I had a lot of fun on the radio show. Interesting to be on the other side of things for a change. Glad you liked the post! Merry Christmas 🙂

      -Ellie

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Festival of Light…and Not-So-Light Food « Shortt and Sweet - 27/12/2011

    […] Of course no Jewish celebration would be complete without some connection to food, so Jewish people also honour the miracle of the oil by eating oily foods, including latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts), as well as other rich, sweet and altogether indulgent treats (hmm…sounds like the joys described in It’s the Most Delicious Time of the Year). […]

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