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Recipe for A Thrifty Holiday Party
Would you be able to help us plan a Christmas party ? We’re on a tight budget, just out of grad school and saddled with college debts, but we’re determined to figure this out.
–Aggie and James, Brooklyn, NY
Start by suggesting a few dates to your closest friends to find a night when you know they're apt to be available. Tell them to put the day into their calendar. Before something else pops up send out a paperless post invitation. Keep track of the responses to catch any bounce backs and update those email addresses. We love paperlesspost.com because you know when you're getting to capacity or when you need to send out more evites. In filling out your paperlesspost.com evite, choose a timeframe no longer than two and a half hours: 6:30pm-9:00pm or an early starting time of six o'clock. Don't lead on guests to expect dinner. The closer to eight the starting time, the more likely they will expect real food. Be sure to use the option "how many children" because a lot of people think Christmas parties mean children, especially if you know their children. You'll want to prepare for them. On the other hand, if you don't ask how many, they may assume children are not invited. Every holiday party needs a theme that is either about food or beverage, but both should compliment the other. A Bloody Rum Punch is just the right festive drink to set a party tone. Holiday parties are mostly about color and a brilliant dark punch -- that is a cross between a sangria and a rum punch. It couldn't be more festively decorated than with thinly sliced blood oranges and limes. Your punch bowl could be any large container in your kitchen -- your largest mixing bowl, a soup pot or anything in between. You can even use a soup ladle to serve the punch. When low lighting consists of colorful votives and tiny white Christmas tree lights scattered hither and yon -- you'll have just enough. Cover surfaces with the smallest branches from a Christmas tree bough and strew cranberries or holly amongst the pine needles. Cover paper plates, or whatever plates you have, with crisp white dollies (that can be found in supermarkets) and deck them out with piles of store-bought Christmas cookies. Use cereal bowls for peanuts and/or popcorn. What guests really want to nibble on with a Bloody Rum Punch are cubes of basic cheddar cheese with water crackers. Keep those plates stacked with cheese cubes. If you can spring for salami, all the better. You can find a really good dark 80 proof rum for under twenty dollars: Angostura 5, Appleton Special, Barbancout 3 Star, Don Q Cristal, Gosling's Black Seal, Plantation Grande Reserve Barbados Rum. For more on rum, check out Michael Dietsch's website seriouseats.com. Holiday cocktails party are not so much about the food as they are about socializing and networking. Stack the chairs in another room out of sight, because you simply don't want people getting stuck sitting. Keep guests on their feet circulating and they may even start dancing. Your playlist doesn't have to be all Christmas music as the night wear on. Here is a rather strong and warm recipe for Great British Bloody Rum Punch (or you can Google your own), you have to put it together the day before, because it has to refrigerate for at least 24 hours -- to meld the ingredients. This receipe makes approximately 20 six-ounce servings -- and you might want to serve it over ice cubes. Great British Bloody Rum Punch 1 750ml bottle of dark rum 1/2 bottle of red wine 6 ounces of fresh squeezed lime juice 3 thinly sliced limes 6 ounces of triple sec liqueur 6 ounces of simple syrup For additional garnish: 3 Thinly sliced Blood Red oranges (or any juice orange) Combine the ingredients the day before in whatever you're using for a punch bowl. The next day all you will need to do is to serve the punch over a couple of ice cubes. Have a couple of bottles of cranberry juice on hand to dilute the punch, stretching it out to go further -- or for guests to lighten up their drink. Cheers, and don't forget the mistletoe!