Holiday Open House Menu
Whether you go casual or elegant, we have all the tips and advice you'll need to host a warm, friendly, successful party. By Ann Taylor Pittman
My solution is not to back away from the chaos, but to throw a party.
I designed this open house menu for versatility: a dress-up evening or a casual day, a low-key Sunday afternoon drop-around or an elegant Saturday night, even a New Year's Eve. The dishes are small, full of flavor, suitable for adults or kids, and can be dressed up or dressed down. There's a lively mix of flavors and textures, from crunchy phyllo-wrapped asparagus to a creamy caramelized onion topping for crostini. Most are pick-up bites, both savory and sweet (including chocolate and peanut butter--coated pretzels that are completely addictive), with a heavier "anchor" pairing of pork tenderloin in herbed biscuits alongside a colorful roasted root vegetable salad.
The best part? This beautiful party menu, including drinks, comes in under $10 per guest. Now, that's reason to celebrate!
• Send invitations at least four to five weeks in advance.
• Festive-up the house
• Don't forget about music! It absolutely sets the tone for the party.
• Choose suitable dishes that work with the feel of the gathering.
• Take time to study a food plan.
• Keep the kids happy with kid-friendly bites and special area where the little ones can play.
• Be prepared for gifts especially food and have a few vases ready for flowers.
• Welcome guests with refreshments. Set up a drink station close to the entryway.
• Hire a presentable neighborhood teenager and put her or him in charge of refreshing the food.
Make-ahead tip: Combine all ingredients except club soda up to two days ahead; gently stir in club soda shortly before serving.
Make-ahead tip: Steep juice mixture up to a week ahead; cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. Warm over medium-low heat, and add rum and lime juice shortly before serving.
Make-ahead tip: Prepare and refrigerate the chutney up to three days ahead; bring to room temperature before serving. For a prettier presentation, top crostini with chutney, and sprinkle the cheese on top instead of stirring it into the chutney.
Make-ahead tip: Refrigerate the spread (or its components) up to two days ahead.
Make-ahead tip: Arrange assembled rolls on a baking sheet, coat with cooking spray, and cover; store in the fridge for up to four hours. Bake an hour or two before the party.