Getting together with friends and family to share holiday memories and traditions has to be one of the best gifts of the season. After all, in addition to fostering good humor, spending time with loved ones strengthens the relationships we hold dear. With that in mind, here are four festive ways to bring together those you love.
Outdoor song celebration
Whether your gang is moving from house to house serenading the neighbors or gathering in your driveway, there is nothing like a catchy song to uplift the mood. For the event, you’ll want to have several Christmas carol books or printed copies of the holiday tunes you plan to sing on hand, including lyrics.
After singing, it’s time to cool down, inside or outside. For drinks, consider a hot beverage, like hot cider with rum for adults or cocoa to garnish with marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream, and peppermint schnapps for adults. You can also offer juice, seltzer water, beer and wine.
For snacking, make your own or pick up smoked fish spreads, pâtés, cold cuts, cheese and crackers at Sea & Cellar in Rockport, which also sells wine, craft beer, and sweets like the halva. Joppa Fine Foods in Newburyport also sells local wine and beer and has a wide selection of crackers, cheese, salted fish, olives, hummus, and baked goods like homemade cookies.
Cookie Decorating Party
Perfect for every adult’s kid and child, a cookie decorating party is sure to put a smile on every face. The process is fun, creative, and tasty.
If you want to make cookies from scratch, consider making a big batch of ginger or sugar cookie dough ahead of time. That way you can take out the chilled dough when everyone arrives and get to work, rolling and cutting the dough into shapes. You can decorate the cookies before baking them with nonpareilles, silver balls and colored sugars. Or bake the cookies and decorate with tinted frostings and additions, like hot cinnamon candies (great for eyes) and raisins and mini chocolate chips (great for buttons).
For a little less work, get a roll of prepared sugar cookies. You can roll out the dough and cut it into shapes, or you can simply cut the dough into rings and decorate the cookies before or after baking in the same way as above. For even less fuss, buy a box of sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies and decorate them with colorful frostings and decorations. Another option is to head to Appleton Farms in Ipswich and purchase a Holiday Cookie Decorating Kit (or two).
Holiday open doors
The great thing about organizing a vacation open house is that it can span a weekend afternoon, allowing people to stop at their convenience. The trick is to have food and drinks in various places in your house that will satisfy those who stop in in the early afternoon for, say, a cookie and a little eggnog, as well as those. arriving later for a drink and a salty bite before dinner. . What you choose to serve depends on your reception style. If you are a DIYer, prepare and arrange everything in advance so you can enjoy the party and your guests, working only to restock when needed.
A cooked and sliced turkey or ham with rolls and condiments nearby is great crowd pleaser. Cheese, crackers, raw vegetables, dips, and even veggie maki will satisfy non-meat eaters, while finger foods like stuffed eggs and tea sandwiches will fill the buffet well. For sugary treats, opt for bites, like mini brownies and cookies, as well as bowls of candy, like Hershey’s Kisses. For drinks, consider kid-friendly eggnog and punch with bottles of brandy and rum for adults, plus beer, wine, juice, and soda.
A word of advice: Consider hiring local middle school or high school students to prepare, help succeed, and clean up. You can also hire a professional caterer, like Vinwood Caterers in Ipswich or Fireside Catering in Burlington.
New Year’s party at home
Whether you’re big or small, luxurious or understated, ushering in 2022 with a bang calls for celebrating your friends with exceptional food, fun and libations. You can turn it all over to a pro by hiring an event planner, like Janie Haas of Janie Haas Events in North Andover and Boston, whose motto is, “Let’s give them something to talk about.” She will take care of the food, drink, entertainment and decor, with unlimited consultations to make the evening personal.
Alternatively, you can prepare an elegant dinner for several friends. Make a splash by offering a different wine for each dish, ending the evening with bubbles from sacred houses such as Bollinger, Perrier-Jouët and Ruinart, as well as winegrower’s champagnes (made and bottled by the winegrower) from small producers, including Egly-Ouriet and Marie Courtin. Put on some music, make an all white table and take out the crystal and porcelain.
For a more low-key evening, invite a large group to feast on seafood dishes, like chowder, clam cakes, coleslaw and crab meat rolls from Woodman’s in Essex. Or prepare plates with smoked ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and traditional sides like macaroni and cheese, Southern Green Beans, and Tennessee Kale’s BBQ at Peabody. Serve cocktails, craft beer and sparkling wine to celebrate the New Year.
CONTACT seaandcellar.com, joppafinefoods.com, thetrustees.org/place/appleton-farms, janiehaasevents.com/contact, tennesseesbbq.com, woodmans.com