This year I threw my third annual holiday party, appropriately titled Tipsy and Toasty. When I began this tradition back in 2012, it started off with just a few close friends and me running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Every year I figure out ways to make it bigger, better, and more fabulous next year.
Here's what I've learned so far:
Be strategic about your menu.
Seriously, don't be overly ambitious. It's impressive to bake a three-layer cake, but if you don't have the time for it then save your sanity and opt for something quicker. I am admittedly really crazy and nailed down my menu back in September, so I had more than enough time to meticulously plan every detail. I decided on 3-4 finger foods and 3 desserts, and I carefully selected recipes that could be completed early and wouldn't keep me in the kitchen all night.
Write a timeline.
This might seem kind of silly but it really helps me keep to a schedule and make sure I accomplish everything I need to, and that I'm also not leaving out any important steps. Go through all your recipes and write down every single thing you need to do, no matter how minor. Then plan out when you will do everything and keep in mind how long each task will take to complete.
Prep, prep, prep!
I cannot stress this enough. If you think it's too early to do something, it's probably not. If you wait, then you'll end up wanting to kick yourself later when you're strapped for time and wishing you'd made that dipping sauce earlier. Trust me. I started prepping food two days in advance, and I made sure to do my grocery shopping early in the week so I'd have all my ingredients on hand. Chopping herbs and slicing vegetables eats up a lot more of your time than you realize, so it's best to do everything as early as possible and store the prepped food in tupperware so you can grab your ingredients as you need them.
Wash your dishware early.
This also might seem like an afterthought but it totally helps everything flow smoother the day of your party. Plan out beforehand which serving platters and glasses you will use for the party and make sure they are clean and ready to go when you are. Chances are your platters are sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust and could use a good rinse or washing.
Now that we've gone through all the essentials, here are a few things that I did to make my party extra special:
Create the invite.
I designed the invitation from scratch, starting with a sketch in my notebook and then moved it to the computer. It took way too long, but I'm so in love with it that I was happy to send the time making it perfect. After all, first impressions need to make a statement ;)
Beautify the table.
I bought a pretty table runner for $10 at Home Goods and sent Jimmy out to buy flowers the morning of the party. I wrote out the menu on little place setting cards and put them next to each plate so people would know what they were eating. These small touches really helped to make the food table look all the more sophisticated.
When in doubt, light candles.
There's nothing that changes the mood of a room like candlelight. It creates an intimate, elegant setting. We opted to use table lamps and floor lamps in addition to the candles and left the overhead light turned off the entire night.
Pandora the playlist.
Because who has time to worry about music when you've got food to prep and guests to entertain??
This year I went above and beyond and decided to send my guests home with a little something. I baked Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies and bagged them for everyone to take on their way out. This was probably completely unnecessary, but I love to go that extra mile and I think it helped to make everyone feel even more special.
Here are some pics from the party, plus the menu:
- Pork Buns
- Asian Meatballs
- Braided Pesto Bread
- Cheese, Charcuterie, and Antipasti
- Chocolate Wasted Mini Cupcakes
- Puff Pastry Berry Tarts
- Oreo Cheesecake Bites
- Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
I already can't wait for next year's holiday party!! I LIVE FOR THIS.
Hope your holiday celebrations were just as successful! Cheers :)