Hello mamas and papas. So, Friday night we held a fairly large sit-down Swedish smörgåsbord dinner. I had started baking, planning, grocery shopping and all the rest of it weeks before. Looking back, there were things that went right and things that could have gone more smoothly … thus this blog post which I hope will be helpful to some of you out there who might be inspired to entertain this holiday season!
1. Plenty to drink. Whether your guests will favor wine, beer, spirits, soda or punch, never shortchange it when it comes to the beverages. To me, the old saying Eat, Drink and be Merry applies mostly to drink. If there is drink, the party continues. Shortage of drink, not so clear. Here are the flames arising from our brande, which we add each year to the Swedish glögg, along with a dash of vodka, red table wine, raisins, almonds, cardamon seeds and cinnamon sticks and sugar. It sits on the stove for a week or two and gets yummier by the day. But beware — the glögg’s sweetness hides a serious alcohol component.
2. Plan your menu in advance. Know what you will be cooking way ahead. As with everything in life, I believe that planning reduces stress. Don’t wait to see what the market presents fresh that day and make decision on the fly. Rather, make a list of every dish you want on your dinner party menu, from the main dishes to the desserts, and start buying your ingredients the week before. Then, make a food preparation calendar. Here are my meatballs which I had mixed and rolled on Wednesday, fried on Thursday, and heated with cream on Friday in time to serve. I could never, I mean never, have fried them Friday with all the last minute things I had still to do.
3. Decorate richly. Half the fun of the party is decorating. Whether this be paper cut-outs made by your kids, flowers, or candles, find items that have meaning for you and put them out in your home. If you like to entertain, put decorations on your birthday or holiday wish list because these will bring you so much joy.
I’ve been collecting Swedish Christmas decorations for about 15 years and each year I amass a few more at the Swedish fair. Then, my generous mom has handed me down a few, such as this candelabra. Taking them out every year and placing them around our apartment has become a big part of the joy of Christmas for me and my kids.
There’s nothing that says PARTY more than a festive decor, and entertaining at home gives you a great opportunity to make it your own. In your everyday life, you likely are not decking the halls so seize the opportunity when it presents itself.
4. Only invite people you like. A party is a lot of work, and it’s your big chance to surround yourself with people who lift you up, not who bring you down. Only invite people who warm your soul. For these folks, you’ll instinctively want to go the extra mile — their friendship will inspire you as a host or hostess. Introducing friends to each other is another huge plus. I get so excited when people I adore click and form new friendships.
Since we had 50 people many of whom know each other and some of whom I wanted to introduce, I did place seating. I cut white paper into rectangles and wrote the guests’ names on them with a simple blue pen. Sometimes, simple is best.
5. Have a great time. Holiday entertaining can be stressful, but planning, cooking and preparing in advance should free you up to talk and have fun. Don’t plan on doing any major food prep during the event. By the time your guests arrive, your food should be ready on low heat on the stove.
When guests offer to bring things, accept their kind invitations. Our guests brought desserts which made for a lovely and diverse dessert table, which is now one of my favorite holiday party ideas! With cakes and and tarts ranging from Princess Cake to pumpkin cake to a Buche de Noel (a French yule log), it was so much fun to taste all of our guests’ creations. Pitching in and contributing makes people feel involved in the event, adding to the fun. And how much fun for you as the host or hostess to try some new things.
When I look back at our dessert table, I feel touched by the effort people made to bring such lovely treats.
What are your tips for how to plan a party this holiday season? Let me know your ideas in the comments!
So that’s it for this week’s Weekly Wrap Up. From our house to yours, Merry Christmas — Happy Holidays — and stay tuned for some awesome gift posts this week on Cloudmom.
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