Entertaining for the Holidays

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When it comes to the holiday season, I love to host friends and family whether it’s for brunch, dinner, or appetizers and cocktails. Now, I won’t lie—before I hit send on my Paperless Post invitations (my favorite way to mail invites), it always feels a bit daunting to add events to an already full December calendar. But I remind myself that gathering friends and family to eat, drink, and be merry is what makes the holiday season memorable! It also forces me to stay on task, clean a bit, and decorate.

This year I am hosting a Wednesday evening party with our close friends and family. Taking my cue from my favorite cookbook author, The Barefoot Contessa—Ina Garten, I prefer to assemble food instead of going crazy with cooking and baking. So, I will purchase a spiral cut ham and make a mustard and rum infused glaze, courtesy of Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook, Mad Hungry. I plan to serve it with warm rolls, specialty mustards, and a cheese platter. I like to roast and then chill shrimp cocktail, which makes for a great make-ahead recipe.

For sweet treats, I will serve my sea salt caramel dark chocolates from Sanders Chocolates in Detroit, MI (you can also find these at Costco in the Midwest) and traditional Italian Christmas cookies that I bake every year. I will also serve wine, sparking water, and a signature Eggnog Martini. If friends ask, I tell them they are welcome to bring an appetizer or dessert to share.

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I also make sure the table looks pretty and festive. To tie in my décor with the theme, I pulled in evergreen branches, red and silver bulbs, candles, and berries. I also included burlap, buffalo check paper liner, gold chargers, and red and white candles. All these are arranged in layers to create visual interest, and add beauty and depth to the table. The table setting with name cards is for our family and friends brunch, but for my evening appetizers and cocktails party, I will keep the tablescape and place food on either side of the centerpiece.

Are you ready to host your own holiday get-together this year? I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes and most memorable gatherings. Go ahead, create a guest list, make a menu, and save the date!