The Holiday Entertaining Roundup

croundupThe holiday season is in full swing, people, and it’s officially party time.

After years of hosting the annual Logena Christmas party, it’s safe to say I’ve learned a thing or two about holiday entertaining. Most notably, people love finger food, and they will always imbibe more than you expect. And since a successful soirée is 90% preparation, 10% perspiration, it’s important to be a planner.

When it comes to your menu, keep it simple and festive, and try to choose recipes that can be at least partially prepped well in advance. At football parties, I don’t mind being trapped in the kitchen churning out Buffalo fingies and other hot dishes throughout the event (you know I hate the foose), but during the holidays, I want to be in the thick of things. A few short stints at the stove are fine, but for the most part, I aim to be hanging with my friends and family as much as humanly possible.

Assuming you feel the same, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite food and drinks to minimize stress and maximize fun at your holiday extravaganzas. Happy hosting, friends!

Domesticate ME!’s Best Holiday Party Recipes:

brie-and-candied-bacon-grilled-cheese-bites-6-1-of-1 1. Brie and Candied Bacon Grilled Cheese Bites. Crispy, brown sugar-glazed bacon. Melty Brie. Buttery, grilled baguette. If you’re breathing heavily/drooling slightly, you should be. These bites are life-changing. (I haven’t used that word in MONTHS, people.

roasted-butternut-squash-quesadillas-with-goat-cheese-and-crispy-sage-5 2. Roasted Butternut Squash Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Crispy Sage. I don’t think many would ever use “nuanced” or “elegant” to describe a quesadilla, but this elevated recipe is 100% worthy of said adjectives. I recommend making double what you think you’ll need, since people tend to go Logan-style HAM on these things

acorn-squash-tart-with-pomegranate-and-prosciutto 3. Acorn Squash Tart with Prosciutto and Pomegranate. This deceptively easy recipe is the type of showstopper that will earn you major entertaining street cred and compliments. (Don’t panic, the puff pastry is store-bought.)

manchengo-crisps-4-1-of-1 4. Manchego Crisps with Serrano Ham, Quince and Marcona Almonds. If you’ve never experienced the joys of crispy baked cheese, I’d make that your 2016 holiday season goal. It’s magic. And topped with all manner of fancypants toppings, this is another simple, yet impressive appetizer that will make you feel like an Ina-level domestic god(dess).

beef-tenderloin-crostini-with-whipped-goat-cheese-and-pesto-3 5. Beef Tenderloin Crostini with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pesto. If you only make one festive recipe from this list, dear God, let it be this one. It’s foolproof.

mini-crab-and-bacon-quesadillas-with-sweet-corn-guacamole-8 6. Mini Crab and Bacon Quesadillas with Sweet Corn Guacamole. These crowd-pleasing mini ‘dillas can be fully prepped in advance and cooked à la minute throughout your holiday soirée. Since sweet corn obviously isn’t in season, feel free to use frozen or canned in the guac, or leave the corn out all together.

slow-roasted-beef-tenderloin-with-rosemary-16-2 7. Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary. I suggest making this insanely tender beef the day before, or morning of, your party and letting it chill in the fridge until just before serving. (Be sure to let it come to room temperature before refrigerating it.) Then slice the tenderloin very thinly and serve it alongside baguette rounds or your favorite party rolls with your favorite sauce (pesto, horseradish aoli, herb mayo, etc.) and let people assemble their own little sandos. Soft cheese and arugula are always welcome garnishes.

butternut-squash-crostini-wtih-brussels-sprouts-and-pomegranate-4 8. Butternut Squash Crostini with Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate. The flavors of sweet and savory butternut squash and ricotta purée, earthy Brussels sprouts, and sweet-tart pomegranate are a match made in holiday finger food heaven. Plus, the red and green toppings are rather seasonally apt.

holiday-peppermint-bark-rice-krispie-treats 9. Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats. For obvious reasons, rice krispie treats loaded with Oreos, peppermint, and chocolate are guaranteed to be a hit at any and all extravaganzas, from formal affairs to cookie swaps. They get bonus points for the fact that there’s no actual baking involved.

peppermint-chocolate-chip-blondie-bites-3 10. Peppermint Chocolate Chip Blondie Bites. I feel like I don’t even need to sell you on these? Just do it.

spiced-cider-bourbon-punch-5 11. Bourbon Spiced Cider Punch. This dump and stir libation is the ideal batch cocktail for those who enjoy a stiff seasonal punch. Beware, it goes down very easily…

grapefruit-rosemary-moscow-mule-cocktail-20 12. Grapefruit-Rosemary Mules. For the record, this seasonal mule recipe is easily multiplied for a crowd and looks quite fetching in a punch bowl with a few floating rosemary sprigs. Just be sure to squeeze the grapefruit juice ahead of time. Greeting your guests sticky and sweaty from last minute juicing is not the best look. (I know from experience.)

spiced-pumpkin-punch-with-bourbon-1 13. Spiced Pumpkin Punch. Fear not, friends, adding pumpkin purée to your bourbon punch is not nearly as weird as it sounds. In fact, it’s downright delightful, and your guests will definitely be blown away by your creative mixology skillz.

p.s. If you have The Dude Diet, the following would also be excellent additions to your party menu: Thai Chicken Meatballs (page 123), Maple-Bourbon Roasted Almonds (page 131), Bison and Sweet Potato Waffle Fry Sliders with Special Sauce (page 125), Cheesy Jalapeño Poppers (page 124), Nutty Chocolate Brookies (page 306).

In addition to snacks and batch cocktails, you will definitely be requiring wine for your holiday extravaganzas, and I’ve got some excellent recs. As I mentioned Friday, I’m currently loving Vinho Verde wines for their versatility (seriously, they pair well with almost everything) and price point. And the latter is key when it comes to supplying a crowd—you want to serve good wine, but you don’t want to break the bank, right? Vinho Verde has you covered.

There are a variety of whites, reds, and rosés to choose from, but if you’re in the market for a crowd-pleasing bottle, I’d go with the Casa de Vilacetinho Arinto 2015. It’s vibrant and fruity without being too sweet, and it complements all manner of small bites. I’ve gone through multiple bottles over the past few weeks with enthusiastic help from friends and family, so I’m going to need you to get on my level…

vinho-verde-arinto This post is brought to you in partnership with my new friends at Vinho Verde, but all opinions are (very obviously) my own. Sponsored posts are few and far between around here, and I only endorse products and companies that I truly love. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Domesticate ME! alive and kicking!

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  • I don’t entertain or go to parties during the holiday season, but if you’re fixing any of the above, please invite me, I’d definitely come to your party. 🙂 Some of these recipes sound absolutely amazing. I will spend some time checking them out and will probably add several to my recipe collection.

    • You have an open invitation, Susan!!! I hope you’ll add some of them to your personal collection or try them for entertaining outside the holiday season! xox

  • I need to add another comment: your reference to “manchengo” had me confused. It is actually manchego cheese (no “n” before the g) (to be certain I did check it on the Président site.

    • You are obviously correct, and I have now fixed that very embarrassing typo. Thank you for catching!

  • Kath Ogle

    Ahhhh Serena..It’s Summer here downunder, and your party food/drink suggestions, food photography and obvious joie de vivre in your presentations is infectious. Happy happy holidays to you and The Dude, and may all your dreams come true for 2017! Love ya’…

    • Thank you for the incredibly kind words, Kath!!! And while I love me some winter holiday weather, I’m definitely jealous of your summer sun right now. Happy holidays–sending so much love to you and yours!

  • Pamela Turnier Horn

    So much fun! Thank you for the wine suggestion. I completely agree with you about the two parties. It’s fun to be in the kitchen talking all things girly while football on yet another to being jolly with everyone during Christmas!
    Speaking of Have a very Merry one!

  • horseofcourse66

    Love that you added manchego, jamon serrano, and quince. I feel like Spain gets forgotten in lieu of its italian cousin cured meats. Have you ever had quince and either cream cheese or goat cheese on bread? It’s like a grown up cream cheese and jelly sandwich.