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Planning for Holiday party yet?

Posted by artsydiva22 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 9, 07 at 15:08

Hi! Newbie, here!

I just love when the fall weather rolls around! I get so antsy about the holidays and can't focus on work! :) That said, I've already started to fill my journal with ideas for this year's Christmas party at our house. What's adds to the excitement is the fact that this will be our first Christmas in our new house, so I'm sketching decorating ideas and planning the buffet table! I've got a basic food menu with specialty drinks planned and ideas for a "Babes in Toyland" theme for our bonus room where all the little ones will be able to spread out all of their toys. I do my own invitations with Photoshop and will order small Save the Date postcards to mail out first thing next month. Last year, we easily had 60-70 people and this year, I'm anticipating more, as the invite list has grown. I love planning and hope the execution goes as smoothly as it did last year! :) Am I the only who's started to think about their own holiday parties? What is everyone else doing to prepare? I'd love to hear everyone's ideas if you're willing to share!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

I'm also planning holiday events now. When is you party? I am finding many school/sports/ work parties are being planned on the days we normally choose so we may have to move from a evening party to a brunch.

I love Babes in Toyland...I've seen small nutcrackers that might make nice gifts. You could put names on the bottom and they have to seek theirs out. This may not work for your crowd but I love an idea I saw last season of a table covered with glass jars filled with old fashion candy and little decorated bags to fill up and take home as gifts.

I'm getting ready by making and freezing my cookie dough so I can just cut, bake, an decorate. I've filled the pantry with nuts, colored sugars, and baking supplies. I've already made my apple cider which is frozen and will be used for hot apple cider. I'm trying out a few nicer crock pot recipes to see if they will work (if so I will borrow a couple extra for the night). We are also trying to come up with a new house drink (last year the bar was too big and became messy) we want to cut back this year. So far that's it..still planning ...mostly getting lost in cookbooks and old Christmas magazines.


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Hi newgardenelf! You sound like you're having so much fun! :)

We're having our party on Dec. 15th and I've already started to tell all of our close friends so that they can't say they already have another party. :) I like the idea of a brunch--especially on a Sunday. A very family-friendly time.

Thanks for the nutcracker idea--I may have to see if I can find some relatively inexpensive ones. And I love, love, LOVE the idea of candy bags in a glass jar! Another little thing I'm thinking of doing is printing up some coasters for people to use. This year, I've decided that we're going to do "coquito" (a Puerto Rican "eggnog") and peppermint hot chocolate along with the traditional mulled cider. My idea was to print up the recipes for the drinks and maybe laminate them or something so that people can use them and take them home if they want to. I'll have to price it out, though.

That's amazing that you make your own apple cider! I can already smell it warming on the stove! :) I'm pulling out all my old magazines, too, for decorating ideas and I need to narrow down my cookie/dessert menu for the party (and also for work gifts). I'm actually thinking of maybe doing "gourmet" candy apples (you know, with all the nuts and chocolate and caramel) for everyone this year at work--but that's another thread altogether!

Thanks for the great ideas and I wish you happy party planning! :)

Anyone else have plans or ideas? I know you do........ :)


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

I like the coaster idea- you could buy a roll of cork (like you use to make cork boards- I would use the thiner one it will be less) or inexpensive small ceramic tile (you might be able to get mismatched tiles free or really cheap from a local tile company)

If you like the nutcracker idea but can't find enough to be afforable maybe you could do just one for each family or each child or even just one and whoever finds it is the keeper.

candy apples are easy to do and lovely...we have an apple tree so we've pretty much done it all...

I'm thinking of doing brownies as gifts this year. I had the idea to use the same brownie base but make a batch with rasberries, nuts, butterscotch, liquors, etc and then put a dozen of the different ones together (got the idea from godiva chocolate). Plus easier than several types of cookies.I'm getting old...


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

I like the cork idea--I will have to look into it. And I really like the "finder's keepers" nutcracker game.

Also, the more I was thinking about the candy in a jar, I thought it would kind of be fun to do a "guess how many candy canes or M&M's are in the jar". The winner would get a dessert (like a whole cake or pie or something) made with those ingredients. What do you think?

Brownies sound great--who doesn't love them?! :) My standby is to do box mix, spread half in the pan, do a layer of caramels (squished flat), then another layer of brownie batter. Ooey gooey on the inside! I say go for the raspberry one, too--such a good combo. Would you use raspberry jam? Or use frozen? I've never tried it that way...


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

I have used frozen rasberries and jam- I liked both. The berries I mixed in, the jam I swished across the top..Caramels and brownies- YUM!

I recently went to a Bat Mitsvah where they did the how many MM's in a jar and the winner kept the jar- the kids loved it.


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Hi girls...

I'm somewhat of a newbie, too. I have posted a few times and absolutely love this forum.

I, too, have been planning our annual open house and just love how exciting the process is. We had our first open house last year for friends and family...had about 75 show up...and I had such a great time putting it together, and I had so many nice complements on my buffet table and decorations. Can't wait to do it again this year. Ours is going to be on the 15th as well, but I don't plan on a theme. We live in an 1888 Victorian, and the house just lends itself to sticking with the period of decorations...plus I really like that look. I am searching for favor ideas and like the one about brownies. I was also thinking of little portion bags of hot chocolate. Found an interesting recipe that Alton Brown makes...include a bit of cayenne power. Might try it, first. Lots to do, but sure is fun planning. I just finished ordering our invitations so I can get them addressed to be out the week of Thanksgiving. So glad I found this thread...can't wait to hear how all your plans come along.


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Hi kissthecook! Thanks for joining in the revelry! :)

I am thoroughly intrigued by the open house idea and for the past 2 years, I have been trying to work up the guts to try it out! With a current guest list of over 100 (probably only 75 will show), the idea of staggering arrival times seems ideal. How much time do you allow for people to visit? Do you say something like 4pm-8pm, come when you like? Or do you "assign" arrival times to make sure the house isn't stuffed to the gills? I haven't done our invitations yet, but they will go out the same time as yours, so there's still an opportunity to change things up. I get the feeling, though, that "open houses" are much less common in SoCal, but I could be wrong. The only downside I can see is that we are planning on serving dinner-type food, not heavy hors d'oeuvres. The hot food items will be in chafing dishes, however, so do you think that could work?

What is on everyone's menu?

I am so loving your hot cocoa/chocolate giveaways. That's another thing I need to try--gifts in a jar: hot cocoa, brownie mix, cookie mixes, etc. One day I'll get to do these things! I would defnitely try out Alton's recipe before giving away, but I'm sure it's good. Here's another giveaway that's really a nice souvenir of the evening: I once went to a party where the host took a snapshot of everyone as they arrived. Sometime during the party, she (or her husband--I never figured it out) printed out these little pictures and put them in 2" x 2" frames. Then all of the sudden, they magically appeared on a tabletop tree! Each set of guests got to take theirs home with them when they left. Probably too much work for almost 100 people, but it might work really well for a smaller party. Another alternative is to take the pictures and send them in Thank You notes if you send those after the party.

Lastly, I am extemely jealous of your old Victorian. They are gorgeous dressed up for the holidays! You just can't buy that charm, you know?

Anyway, keep the ideas coming and I can't wait to hear how everything's going! It would be great to see pictures of the fruits of our labor at the end of the year (or beginning of the next), too!! :)


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Hi kissthecook! Thanks for joining in the revelry! :)

I am thoroughly intrigued by the open house idea and for the past 2 years, I have been trying to work up the guts to try it out! With a current guest list of over 100 (probably only 75 will show), the idea of staggering arrival times seems ideal. How much time do you allow for people to visit? Do you say something like 4pm-8pm, come when you like? Or do you "assign" arrival times to make sure the house isn't stuffed to the gills? I haven't done our invitations yet, but they will go out the same time as yours, so there's still an opportunity to change things up. I get the feeling, though, that "open houses" are much less common in SoCal, but I could be wrong. The only downside I can see is that we are planning on serving dinner-type food, not heavy hors d'oeuvres. The hot food items will be in chafing dishes, however, so do you think that could work?

What is on everyone's menu?

I am so loving your hot cocoa/chocolate giveaways. That's another thing I need to try--gifts in a jar: hot cocoa, brownie mix, cookie mixes, etc. One day I'll get to do these things! I would defnitely try out Alton's recipe before giving away, but I'm sure it's good. Here's another giveaway that's really a nice souvenir of the evening: I once went to a party where the host took a snapshot of everyone as they arrived. Sometime during the party, she (or her husband--I never figured it out) printed out these little pictures and put them in 2" x 2" frames. Then all of the sudden, they magically appeared on a tabletop tree! Each set of guests got to take theirs home with them when they left. Probably too much work for almost 100 people, but it might work really well for a smaller party. Another alternative is to take the pictures and send them in Thank You notes if you send those after the party.

Lastly, I am extemely jealous of your old Victorian. They are gorgeous dressed up for the holidays! You just can't buy that charm, you know?

Anyway, keep the ideas coming and I can't wait to hear how everything's going! It would be great to see pictures of the fruits of our labor at the end of the year (or beginning of the next), too!! :)


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Hello again...

I say "Go for it" and do an Open House. If you love entertaining like we do, it really is an easy, fun way to entertain. I didn't stagger invitation times, but thought about doing it. Turns out, it wasn't necessary at all. We actually invited about 100 people, and as you guessed, 75 showed. The invitation we sent last year (and will do again this year) states: anytime between 4pm and 8pm. I think we might extend the time a little this year as we are thinking of expanding the guest list. We found that families with smaller children arrived closer to the 4pm time, and left earlier. Some folks will stay the entire time and some will come and go. Makes for a nice mix and steady stream of people. There was never anytime that I felt the house was too full.

As far as the buffet, I learned a lot from last year's and will make a few changes. I love to cook and bake, so I did it all myself. We had spiral cut glazed hams, roasted turkey, mini BBQ meatballs (kept in a chafing dish), jumbo shrimp bowl, mini croissants, baked brie with dried cherries and almonds as well as another tray of assorted cheeses. And then we also included the usual fruit skewers, veggie tray, olives, condiments for the turkey and ham. Also had a few dips: salmon dip, crab and artichoke dip (served in a chafing dish) and spinich dip. Dessert buffet was: Flourless chocolate torts, pumpkin cheesecake, assorted Christmas cookies, almond toffee, and assorted other chocolate candies that I make. We offered an assortment of beer, wine, waters, sodas, hot cider, coffee. It was a lot of fun putting together and we had great leftovers! Oh my, this got very long!!


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Sounds lovely! I think you may have talked me into it! :)

You mention that you might make changes to your buffet menu--do you mean just for the sake of changing it up a bit, or because you encountered some snafus? We are serving the traditional holiday fare along with an assortment of ethnic dishes and desserts (our family is Filipino and a lot of the "older folks" don't do ham or turkey). Now that I think of it, chafing dishes will definitely make an open house more feasible, knowing things will be kept warm as different people come and go.

I'm like a kid in a candy store when it comes to these things! And like that kid, I better save up my allowance so that I can afford this year's soiree! :)


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Yes, I'm going to make changes to the menu so we can have different items this year...most of the people being invited were here last year. Also, one of my warm dips didn't do so well, and we had more than enough food!! That's where the biggest changes will be...in the quantities. I will repeat some of the items, but think I will add in some different canapes...perhaps something with smoked salmon as well as a beef/onion/gorgonzola crostini. Haven't really planned the entire menu yet, but am having a blast looking for new recipes.

I, too, love to buy serving dishes and pieces that we use for entertaining...especially tiered dishes. They work so well on a buffet table and sure helps to get lots of food into a smaller space. Interestingly enough, I've gotten several pieces at our local Costco store. I saw that they also are carrying chafing dishes...I might end up purchasing another one as well.

I'd love to hear what your ethnic foods will be. Can't say I've ever had Filipino food.


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Our last holiday open house was 11-5 because I didn't want to spend the whole day getting ready and be tired at the party but this year I'm thinking of starts at 6 pm----and do more of dessert items, meat pies, fruit and cheese plates, etc. We'll put on a movie for the little ones and games out for the older kiddies...

I like to have some food that I can make and freeze like pork pie, chicken pot pie, fruit pies, cookies, lasagna,


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Yes, I'm going to make changes to the menu so we can have different items this year...most of the people being invited were here last year. Also, one of my warm dips didn't do so well, and we had more than enough food!! That's where the biggest changes will be...in the quantities. I will repeat some of the items, but think I will add in some different canapes...perhaps something with smoked salmon as well as a beef/onion/gorgonzola crostini. Haven't really planned the entire menu yet, but am having a blast looking for new recipes.

I, too, love to buy serving dishes and pieces that we use for entertaining...especially tiered dishes. They work so well on a buffet table and sure helps to get lots of food into a smaller space. Interestingly enough, I've gotten several pieces at our local Costco store. I saw that they also are carrying chafing dishes...I might end up purchasing another one as well.

I'd love to hear what your ethnic foods will be. Can't say I've ever had Filipino food.


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

I enjoyed reading your banter on this thread!
I usually hold a cookie exchange..doesn't follow real cookie exchange rules, more like a night out for my friends..but last year due to a few friend changes and one I just couldn't bring myself to include...but didn't want to have it, then her find out..I just didn't have it. (she's changed and isn't easy to be around)....

But I love the prep of it all..so I may just come up with something new with a new group of people for this year, because I truely missed the planning, prep and socialization...

I have a recipe for a "in a jar" brownie mix. I also use it as my standard brownie and a spiffed up version. I'll include the link for you guys.
I like your idea of a brownie plate of different kinds..Might have to borrow that! LOL

Here's the Cream Cheese ones Cream Cheese

Here is a link that might be useful: The Gift of Brownies


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

Im done I have a head count of 40 for Dec 8th


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RE: Planning for Holiday party yet?

For the past 25 years we have had a Christmas Eve open house. We always prepare several of our favorite dishes and folks usually bring their favorites which lends to a very nice buffet. We also bring out our large Fostoria punch bowls making one regular and one spiked. Folks come and go between services at our Presbyterian Church. We generally have between 75 and 100 and folks seem to look forward to the event. Our three trees and all the other decorations make the event very festive. Generally takes the wife and I 3 or 4 days to do all the inside and outside decorations.


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