Start by cleaning your house. Holiday decorations are notoriously difficult to clean around, aren’t they? You don’t have to go hog wild, but clean up the mess under the tree and put empty boxes out into the recycling pile.
Invite your friends to stop by on New Years Day. Give them a several hour timeframe. It will allow people to arrive at a time that is suitable to their schedule as well as allow you to catch up with your guests individually as they trickle in and out during the day. If I were throwing an open house this year I’d invite folks over between 11am and 5pm.
Prepare a menu list – make it easy on yourself. I suggest a menu of appetizers, soup, sandwiches and dessert. Be sure that everything you plan to serve will keep on the counter or stovetop, so your guests can help themselves as they arrive and you can relax and enjoy yourself.I’d consider doing an egg casserole for those who arrive earlier in the day. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. After the egg dish is gone, I’d bring out the olives, cheese, crackers and other appetizers for those who arrive later in the day. I might think about making up a tray of my mom’s stuffed mushrooms. Oh, and shrimp cocktail is always a big hit. I’d definitely have a crudités plate on hand with homemade curry dip. Heck, hot, cheesy artichoke dip might hit the spot as well…Prepare your big pot of soup (or two!) a few days in advance. This will allow the flavors to mingle. Believe it or not, your soup will taste better than normal.
I have not decided to throw an open house this year, but if I were I’d try and get a pepper encrusted smoked ham from Rubiners. (A honey baked ham would be delicious too.) I’d put out all the condiments needed for a sandwich and allow my guests to make their own.
Serve the soup with rolls or fresh baguettes on the side so that your guests can eat them alongside the soup, or make mini-sandwiches with them.
It might be nice to consider making one cream based soup and one broth soup -or- consider making one that is vegetarian and another that has meat in it. This way your open house guests will have a choice.
Keep your options of drink selections limited. Beer, white and red wine -or- instead of offering beer and wine get out your punch bowl and make up a recipe of open house punch. Be sure to have a beverage dispenser or pitcher of water available on the counter top – it’s nice to give your guests the option of fizzy water as well. Another fun idea would be to serve hot cocoa. Make up a big batch and keep it hot in an insulated thermos. Have a Christmas Cookie and Dessert station – this time of year people can’t seem to get enough cookies! BTW: at the bottom of this article they have some good tips about freezing Christmas Cookies – if you’re into that sort of thing. Simply freeze them while you’re doing your holiday bakery and bring them out to defrost the day before your open house. You won’t need too many – given that January 1 often comes with a commitment to New Years Resolutions and all. The first photo is from Pottery Barn and the rest are mine. And thanks to Kitchen Clatter for reminding me about throwing a soup and sandwich party during our morning coffee talk on Twitter! I really enjoyed her recent story about Aunt Lee the Christmas Cookie Queen and even though holiday bakery week is over, I might pop out a batch of her Auntie’s Ricotta Cookies before we head to Michigan! Inspiration is everywhere…