The season is upon us, friends! It is a flurry of presents and wrapping paper, baking and menu planning and the breathless anticipation of family and friends arriving for visits, meals, and cocktail parties. Planning plays such an important part to keep you out of the kitchen and with your people. Here are JBE’s suggestion for a fool proof gathering every time!
Have the menu and shopping taken care of as early as possible. This will help keep it low key on the day of the event. We all know the dreaded fourth-time-I’ve-been-to-the-store run. Keeping an organized list of ingredients you will need as you menu plan will help the day run smoothly.
A specialty cocktail is a great way to make any event shine a little brighter. Choosing a cocktail that can be made in batches is even better and keeps you from continually having to mix drinks all night. We recommend the Mulled Wine recipe below for something warm and wonderful (and easy on the alcohol for those that are driving).
1 Bottle Red Wine (Merlot or Zinfandel recommended)
1/2 Cup Sugar or Simple Syrup
1 Orange, sliced in rounds
1 Lemon, sliced in rounds
1 1/2 cups water
1 large tea ball of mulling spices *
Place all ingredients in a crock pot on low heat. If you are in a hurry, turn to high and then turn down just before it starts to simmer. As the evening goes, if it starts to get stronger, feel free to add hot water 1/4 cup at a time to the pot. The tea ball is the quickest and easiest way to add the mulling spices. They could also be wrapped in cheesecloth.
*Mulling spices are cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and orange peel. These can be bought pre-mixed or you can make your own.
Low Maintenance Menus
If you are serving dinner, braised meats are a great way to cut down on your kitchen time and make the house smell amazing throughout the day. Slow and low for roasts and ribs makes for fall-off-the-bone goodness for higher fat cuts of meat. If you are serving hors d’oeuvres, finding as many do-ahead recipes as possible will help keep the last minute push to a minimum. Regardless of your menu, think about each recipe and the time it will require for the day of the event.
Consider Hiring Help for the Evening
If you have a labor intensive meal planned with lots of guests, it might be worth it to consider hiring out some things. Sometimes you just can’t bear the thought of loading one more old fashioned glass into the dishwasher at midnight after everyone is gone. Dish rental is super affordable and will prevent you from having to do dishes at the end of the evening.
Also consider hiring a caterer for one or more dishes for the meal. Even if they only do one dish, they will have staff available for hire for the evening to help keep the food stocked and the dishes cleared. I find that guests also love to be utilized as extra hands. Thinking about what specific things you will need help with will make the evening run smoothly and guests will love helping make the magic happen.
If you decide that it’s all just too much, JBE is thrilled to come and help you plan your perfect event. We can handle everything and allow you to enjoy your guests to the fullest. Contact us for more information.
Relax and Enjoy Your Guests
At the heart of it all, the evening should be about spending time with those that you love. Even if the casserole is overdone and the turkey is underdone, laughter and community (and good wine) make up for a multitude of sins. Being with your guests is the most important factor in the event equation. Grab a glass of something good and jingle those bells, friends!
We want to wish each and every one of you a blessed holiday season filled with love and laughter. We hope that you are able to connect with friends and family, both near and far, and that you are all able to have some time to simply enjoy one another amidst the chaos. We look forward to being with you in the New Year and lots of exciting new adventures to announce in the coming weeks!