And so, after three long years of Christmas cancellations, Zoom drinks and bubble get-togethers, we can finally PARTYYYYY! like it’s 1999.
We made a half-hearted attempt at it last year, lateral-flow-testing beforehand and afterwards, cautiously limiting the interactions to a safe distance and the scale to a couple of friends. But it wasn’t the setup for letting our hair down.
This year it’s party on! And I don’t necessarily mean huge gatherings with professional caterers – what would be the point of me writing about that? But certainly we are going to invite a bunch of friends for pre-Chrimbo drinks, a festive dinner party or just an evening together at yours, because pubs are rocketing their drink prices sky-high.
For a drinks-and-nibbles do, a few ideas. Traditional mini ham and sausage rolls can hardly be beaten. Completely irresistible glazed bacon has the potential to make vegetarians waver. Their saving grace will be cheese biscuits – homemade and completely moreish. A celery salad with furikake on the side will provide a touch of health-consciousness.
For slightly more substantial nibbles consider bacon wrapped chicken bites. You could make a tray of stuffed jalapenos or tomato nuns. Polenta chips can be served at room temperature and so can arancini balls, if you’d like to take the trouble (and reap satisfaction rewards!)
Cheese and wine parties can do with seed crackers or oregano cheese straws. Just make sure the cheeses are at room temperature and there is a bunch of grapes on the board instead of boring (and quickly browning) apple slices. Plus a bowl of balsamic and maple roasted shallots perhaps?
For a dinner-leaning party, a dish cooked in one tray is my favourite solution. A chicken and vegetable tray bake will need only garlic bread on the side, and for the vegetarian option there is the tomato and chickpeas tray. A whole tray of pie is another great idea: duck pastilla or Greek lamb and spinach if all your guests are meat eaters, and mushroom and fondue or caramelised leek tart for a general public pleaser. If it’s tasty, carnivores are always happy to accept a veggie dish as it makes them feel virtuous!
Pasta bake is another easy option. Orzo with mushrooms and pancetta, conchiglioni with ricotta and walnut filling or a tomato and aubergine bake? Or all three. Just joking!
If dessert is to be on the menu, go for the festive cranberry gingerbread cake with ice cream, ricciarelli to have with coffee or give away as party favours or the easiest dessert, lemon posset. Or just mince pies if, like me, you make hundreds of them anyway. Happy partying!