How to Stress Less
There’s great satisfaction in making an entire meal from scratch, but there’s also merit in getting through the day without too much stress. Fill in the party with some purchased things or very simple, satisfying concoctions.
- Our Mulled Apple Cider will please the kids and the nonalcoholic crowd.
- Serve apple brandy with the Brown Butterscotch Pie (or spike some whipped cream with it).
- Pay your respects to New Orleans and drink some chicory coffee.
- Order some boiled peanuts, pickled okra and peaches, or pumpkin chip preserves from the Lee Bros. to South up your spread.
- Buy a rustic fruit tart or tartlets (pear, apple, or squash) from your favorite bakery.
- Place some pralines, turtles, or goo goos out for nibbling.
- Serve dessert à la mode with ginger, chocolate, or vanilla bean ice cream.
- Get some old-fashioned candy to serve with dessert (soft caramels work great).
How to Class Up the Party
As with all our CHOW parties, we can advise you on how best to throw the party because we’ve thrown it ourselves! Here are a few ideas we came up with this time.
- The more the merrier, but fewer is cozier. Our menus can be tapered back or expanded upon, depending on the number of guests. Our recipes serve 12, but you can leave out a few dishes if you have fewer guests. If the party keeps growing, just add in any of your traditional family favorites.
- Don’t stress about every detail. If you follow our timeline, you’ll have done a lot of the work well in advance, and you’ll actually be able to hang with your guests once they arrive. Even so, roll with the punches if something goes wrong. Open another bottle of wine.
- Gauge the formality. If you are feeling formal, you can print out the menu and put it on display. Label each dish on a buffet for a slightly less formal feel, and if the party’s casual, just leave things up to your guests’ imaginations.
- Go seasonal. Use your fall rakings to decorate the table (anything from maple leaves to acorns).
- Flowers can be too femme. Flowers are beautiful, but for a less predictable display, fill your vases with some misshapen branches or some Chinese lanterns.
- Dork out for your friends. Show off your collecting skills: we know someone who decorates her dining table with her button collection. If you collect something eccentric (drawer handles, magnets, river stones, marbles, Beanie Babies), this is your time to show it off.
- Go for the gold. No holiday is complete without some healthy competition, so before you doze off into a food coma, break out some games. Charades, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit are the classics, but Taboo can get the crowd riled up, too.