Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Cocktail Party / Small Bites Menu / Hosted Cocktails / Festive Decor

On Saturday, Tommy and I hosted a holiday cocktail party. It was the first party either of us have ever thrown that wasn't centered around copious amounts of alcohol in red cups. Oh yes, this was a real cocktail party. We're talking custom invitations, a guest list of close friends, a well stocked bar, hand-crafted photo backdrop and a small bites menu that was elegant but secretly easy to put together. Don't think I would host such a party without sharing all of the recipes, tips and tricks that made it such a success.

Small Bites Menu / Appetizers / Desserts

Bar Menu / Whiskey / Vodka / Gin / Wine

Crock Pot Spiced Cider / Jack Daniels
Cucumber, Mint and Lime Soda Water / Stoli or Bombay Sapphire
Red Wine / Cabernet Savignon / Pinot Noir
White Wine / Savignon Blanc
Green Glasses, Wine Key and Bottle Opener

Decor / Gold and White with Red and Green Accents / Photobooth Backdrop

Cream Colored Fabric / Gold Gauze Fabric
White Carnations and Spray Roses with Gold Dipped Buds
Pine Scented Candle

Fresh Mozzarella Pea Pesto Crostini

In a food processor, combine 10 oz defrosted frozen peas, 1 clove garlic, 10 fresh mozzarella balls and puree. Poor olive oil through the feed tube until it reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Slice a french baguette and toast for 3 minutes so the bread is warm. Spread mixture on the bread and reserve any leftovers.

Proscuitto Wrapped Pears

Peel two pears and cut the area around the core into bite-sized cubes with at least one flat edge that will stand up on a platter. Pull apart the proscuitto how it naturally wants to separate. Wrap the small pieces of proscuitto around each pear cube and put a toothpick half way through. Stand them up on a platter.

Caprese Skewers

Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Pull apart fresh basil into small leaves. Slide half the cherry tomato up the skewer. Add a fresh basil leaf and then a fresh mozzarella ball (some marinated, some regular). Put the other half of the cherry tomato on the skewer with the flat side down and don't poke the skewer all the way through. Stand them up on a platter. I love the way these festive skewers look.

Brie Cheese with Sliced Apples and Fresh Bread

Buy one or two wheels of brie cheese (it's a fact that everyone loves brie). Put them out on a plate with a cheese knife one at a time and serve with sliced apples. To make it easier, I bought Trader Joe's pre-sliced apples. Also serve with cubes of a sourdough bread loaf that you cut up before the party. Feel free to throw them in the toaster for 3 minutes or so.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Make it easy and slice Pillsbury sugar cookie dough and bake according to package directions. When they come out of the oven, sprinkle with green and red sugar or sprinkles. After they cool for about two minutes, put them on a plate. These can be made earlier in the day.

Gooey Chocolate Brownies

Use Trader Joe's brownie mix and bake for the minimum amount of time, 25 minutes. The brownies will come out perfectly gooey. If you want to kick it up a notch, use Martha Stewart's brownie bow cut out so your brownies look like a wrapped present.

Strawberry Santas

Cut the green tops off of the strawberries so there is a flat edge. Next, cut the point off of the strawberries and put a dollop or squirt of whipped cream at the place you cut off the point. Put the red point back on top of the whipped cream. They look like little Santas. Do these close to when the party starts since the whipped cream seemed to melt. Serve on a white cake stand. I first saw these little guys on Pinterest {follow me here}.

Crock Pot Spiced Cider

I used Heather Taylor's recipe {watch her make it in this webisode} to create the perfect spiced cider that stayed at the right temperature for the entire party. Simply add two jugs of apple cider, 5 cinnamon sticks, 4 whole cloves and 1 sliced apple to the crock pot. Heat it on low for 4 hours and then it will automatically go to the keep warm setting. Put a shot of Jack Daniels in a holiday glass and ladle the cider on top.

Cucumber, Mint and Lime Soda Water

Add fresh mint to a pitcher and muddle. Slice two limes, squeeze the juice into the pitcher and then drop them in. Slice one hot house cucumber and throw that in too. Add soda water and let the flavors mix for up to a day. As the soda water runs out, just pour more in. The mixture will still flavor the soda after several servings.

Vases with Greenery, Real Cranberries and Floating Votive Candles

Choose some greens and add them to a vase. Fill the vase close to the top with water and add real cranberries. Light a votive and float it on the water. I liked doing two identical vases and putting them at both ends of the appetizer table. Definitely got this idea off of Pinterest {follow me here}.

Handmade Photobooth Backdrop with Crepe Paper

That's my college roomie on the left and me on the right

I first saw a crepe paper project in this post over at Camille Styles and I thought it would be a fun texture for a photo backdrop. I bought 5 colors of crepe paper online from Paper Mart: two shades of green, two shades of red and the gold. You'll need one large piece of cardboard (I recycled a piece from a box that was shipped here), scissors, a stapler and a hot glue gun. Cut the crepe paper into 3 inch pieces at a little over the width of the cardboard. Arrange each strip horizontally one at a time and staple them to both edges of the cardboard. Put each strip a little under the one above it so when you fray it, the cardboard won't be visible. After each piece is arranged, take scissors and cut vertical lines across the width of each strip. Then create depth by scrunching some of the fringe with your fingers. Finally, put two dots of hot glue toward the middle of each strip. The photo backdrop is complete! Put duct tape on the back of the cardboard and affix to the wall. I tried to put it on our concrete walls but that didn't work so well. It held on better to the glass door.

I hope you'll make some of the recipes or use some of my tips at your cocktail party! Happy holidays!


  1. Mmmm all this food looks delicious! I love the added sparkle of the caprese skewers!

  2. Yum! How fun and festive! :)