Triptic featuring homemade pizza, cheeseboard and fruit punch.

Snacks & Treats

How To Throw A Party Without The Pressure

Nov 20, 2017

Hosting a holiday party can be stressful — so much so that even the thought of planning and preparation for such a party can convince people to think twice about sending out invitations. But it’s nice to have friends and family in the house during the holidays — here are a few ways to streamline the festivities so you can actually be a guest at your own party.

Stock up on store-bought

There’s no shame in picking up prepared foods for your party, but you needn’t be limited to frozen appetizers and pastry-wrapped hors d’oeuvres. Pick up some olives, good feta, pitas, roasted peppers and a tub of hummus at the deli to assemble your own mezze platter.

Cheese, crackers and hummus.

Or buy a few good-quality thin-crust pizzas, bake them and cut into long strips or thin wedges on a cutting board, topping with a handful of arugula and/or a drizzle of olive oil as it comes out of the oven, if you like. And of course you can never go wrong with a cheese board — choose an assortment of varieties and textures, from goat to cheddar to blue, and fill in the gaps with dried fruit, nuts, crackers and little tubs of red pepper jelly or fruit chutney. Or mix and match — set out a wedge of cheese, some chunky hummus, interesting crackers, even some leftover pastries, and let friends nibble.

Homemade cheese and basil pizza

Get guests involved

DIY in different stages of completion, starting with the dough.

You gather the ingredients, then have guests make their own pizzas (pitas instead of raw dough will minimize oven time and mess), build their own tacos, even assemble the grilled cheese of their dreams, spread with pesto or Sriracha and stuffed with bacon and caramelized onions. Or opt for brunch, and offer a build-your own waffle bar. Bonus: it provides an activity for people to connect over.

Mix up some punch

Pink punch with cherries floating.

Rather than try to stock an entire bar with beer, wine, liquor and a variety of mixes, choose an interesting cocktail or two that you can mix up in a larger batch — serve in a punchbowl, large pitcher or one of those large glass jar beverage dispensers and you won’t have to worry about mixing drinks all night. If you like, keep them non-alcoholic, made bubbly with ginger ale or soda water, with some sliced fruit, berries or cherries and a bottle of gin or vodka close by for anyone who might want to spike theirs.

Make it brunch

Scones with a side of fresh cream.

Brunch can be more affordable — and easier to pull off, not to mention an easier time of day to plan, particularly with families with small kids who might otherwise need to hire a sitter. Bake a batch of scones or cinnamon buns, mix up a simple fruit salad and put a pot of coffee on, and you have yourself a party.

Stick to dessert

Assorted pastries that includes Nanaimo bars, lemon meringue tart, etc.

Inviting friends over for dessert is perfectly acceptable, and is more affordable and easier to coordinate than a full appetizer or dinner party menu. Stick to a theme, like ice cream sundaes, cakes or pie, or bake or pick up a variety of desserts to set out buffet-style, with a stack of small plates and forks, a few bottles of prosecco, perhaps a batch of hot chocolate and hot or sparkling apple cider for kids and non-drinkers.

Caramel cake on a plate.

Make it a potluck

A large and varied table full of casseroles dishes.

People will ask what they can bring anyway — why not request a salad, snack or dessert? Potlucks really take the pressure off the host, and you don’t need to worry about having enough — as long as everyone brings something, there will be more than enough food. Don’t worry too much about the menu — the beauty of a potluck is the luck of the draw.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


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