Sure, an expertly planned dinner party, complete with perfect silverware, wine pairings, and an intricate dessert sounds good, but with kiddos in the house, it can be next to impossible to pull off. Ina Garten makes it look easy, but the time and preparation necessary for throwing together a fabulous party like this only adds to the stress of the holiday season. This year, celebrate the little things—good food and conversations—with your friends and family by keeping it simple. Check out our ideas for easy holiday get-togethers that won’t break the bank, or your spirit, this winter.
Cookbook clubs have been the “it” get-together this year, bouncing all over Instagram and even adopted by Bon Appetit and Saveur, with the general idea to select a cookbook and ask everyone to bring a dish from it. If guests aren’t keen on buying a cookbook for a potential one-time use, encourage them to pick up a copy from the library, google the cookbook for preview recipes, or have a friend send pictures of a recipe. Anyway you do it, it’s a great way to thoroughly review a book with friends. For a local favorite, make Tasting Colorado your holiday cookbook club pick.
Encourage friends to bring their favorite tried and tested cookies, or for those that despise baking, there are local bakeries, like Sugar Bakeshop, City Bakery, or Happy Bakeshop where you can pick up dozens to go. Make sure to provide savory hors d’oeuvres like chips and dip or a simple cheese plate to balance out the sugar frenzy, and purchase simple boxes, or holiday themed gift bags for all of the guests to take their cookies home in. The general rule is to ask each guest to bring half a dozen cookies for each attendee, and another half a dozen for sampling at the party. Tags on the cookie plates let guests know what they’re sampling.
For a competitive take on the cookie exchange, plan a date for a contest to find out who has the best cookie recipe. Simply assign your most foodie friends as judges, and invite everyone to taste test each other’s cookies. Then, you can give out awards for most creative, people’s choice, and judge’s choice. The competition gets even fiercer if you decide on one cookie; chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or gingerbread to judge. Wash it all down with eggnog, spiked for adults, of course.
Festive holiday drinks are half the fun of the holiday season, and kids don’t have to be left out. Encourage guests to bring their favorite winter drink; hot chocolate, mulled wine (or mulled grape juice), apple cider, eggnog, or cranberry mules. Buy a package of disposable insulated cups and designate one pattern for spiked and one for virgin drinks.
Warm up with loved ones over Denver’s tried and true staple as the perfect centerpiece for a get together. Make a big batch of green chili in your instant pot, over the stove, or hack it by getting enough to share from Santiago’s ($8/quart) or Illegal Pete’s ($5/16oz) and set out the perfect accoutrements; sliced radishes, avocado, cilantro, tortilla chips, sour cream. A pitcher of margaritas, virgin and alcoholic, rounds out the vibe of the party.