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The holiday season is here! In the midst of decorating, finding the perfect gifts, making memories and spending time with family and friends, those to-do lists can get overwhelming. Am I right? Cut yourself a break and really enjoy the merry making.
Every year, we host at least 2-3 holiday get-togethers at our home and some serious effort, planning, and maybe a little bit of strategy really helps everything run smoothly. This year, we kicked off our holiday season with a dinner party featuring a fun coffee and dessert bar.
If you have ever thought of hosting your own party or simply gathering with friends for an in-home latte bar, I hope you’ll be inspired! So today, I am sharing a few tips for hosting during the holidays to keep you less stressed and your guests joyful.
Place Small Snacks and Drinks away from the Kitchen
This may actually be a slightly controversial tip since the kitchen is the heart of the home and you want to hang out with your guests. It’s pretty much a fact that people tend to gather around the food and drinks. However, if you are busy or the kitchen is small, you don’t want to be climbing over people to get things done. I have a rolling bar cart that I keep stocked.
Here are some items I keep our beverage station stocked with for the holidays:
Give guests a Job
I find that particularly with guests who may not know each other, the first thing they will ask is “Do you need me to do anything?” This phrase is actually more than polite conversation. It can make them feel important, needed, and engaged. Of course, if I am in the middle of carving up the main entree, my focus is on that. Usually, I will try to pair up guests who may not know each other and have them help each other with a task. Some of the more common ones I use would be getting and filling drink orders for dinner or giving them the responsibility of making sure the snacks and coffee bar are well stocked.
Don’t Stress over Holiday Decorations
I love that holiday decorations pull double-duty during holiday parties. It takes the stress off me because I don’t have to shop for party decorations, I already have them! But it’s totally ok if you don’t have every single decoration out just yet. Select a few areas that highlight where guests will be and don’t worry about the rest. For example, a mantle can provide an excellent backdrop for a buffet, or drink station.
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Don’t try more than 1 new recipe
Let me start by saying this: You do not need to make everyone’s absolute favorite dish. I usually have a few recipes in my back pocket for hosting parties that are my reliable favorites. Of course, I am always wanting to try something new, but keeping it to just one new item is key. Having multiple dishes that you have never done before is asking for disaster and will make the day of the event that much more stressful.
For dessert, my go-to holiday recipe is this chocolate almond cake. It’s moist and delicious, and I don’t have to frost it! A simple sprinkling of powdered sugar and some fresh or candied cranberries for decoration will make this look festive! The recipe is at the bottom of this post.
Set the Table Up A Few Days Ahead
Let me speak from experience, lay out any and all serveware and dishes you may need. You do not want to realize the day of the party that you are short on forks.
Now, normally I am not fancy enough to put out place cards or seating charts (this is supposed to be stress-free after all!), but I wanted to give the table a bit more color and festive vibe. I had these pretty ornament balls leftover so I cut out some name tags and voila, instant holiday twinkle.
For this holiday season, you can purchase the Starbucks® Holiday Blend and Peppermint Mocha at your local Walmart. There is even a special offer:
Purchase three (3) qualifying Starbucks® packaged coffee (10-20oz.), Starbucks® K-Cup® packs (9-32ct.), VIA® Instant (5-8ct.), Starbucks® Syrups (12.17oz.), or Starbucks® Cookie Straw packs (9.17oz.) products in a single transaction at Walmart stores from 11/1/17 through 12/26/17 and receive 75 bonus stars when you upload your receipt at Starbucks-stars.com.
Happy Holidays and have a joyful hosting!
- 2 cups Flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup almond paste
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
- 2 oz dark chocolate Use your favorite tasting chocolate
- 1 cup strong coffee
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2-8 inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds on the bottom and grease the sides, or grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together.
In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, add the sugar, eggs, and almond paste and mix well. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or a double boiler. When the chocolate is cool enough to touch, mix it into the sugar/egg mixture until just combined. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla and coffee to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.
Add dry ingredients to wet, one cup at a time, and mix until just combined after each addition.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or the center is bouncy and comes out clean with a toothpick. Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature.
Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar, fruit, or a dollop of whipped cream.