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Deck the Halls

by Editorial Staff--Suburban Family Magazine
Planning for holiday parties with the help of local experts.

Between trying to find the perfect gift, hunting for a spot in the bustling mall parking lot and preparing the holiday roasts, catching up with family and friends might take a back seat. But hosting a memorable holiday party isn’t out of reach. The first step is as simple as setting up a date.

“The holidays fill up quickly,” explains Keegan Gosik, of Sensational Host Caterers in Maple Shade. “It is such a busy time of year, it’s best to get your affair on the books early.”

This ensures that your guests and any vendors you may need—like bartenders, caterers or rental companies—can actually make it, he says. “Thursday evenings are wonderful for holiday party planning because they are close enough to the end of the week, but tend to not be overbooked like weekends,” Gosik adds.

Stay classy
“You want to keep your menu simple,” says Cory Gosik, of Sensational Host Caterers. “Sometimes, folks want to ‘wow’ their guests with these new, extravagant recipes. But, attempting something you’ve never done before can be stressful—especially if you are the one preparing the food yourself.”

But the classics never get old around the holidays; a beautiful spiraled ham or an oven-roasted turkey will feed a crowd and make an excellent centerpiece for the table, he says. Don’t stop there, though; simple but elegant sides such as a classic cranberry sauce with orange liqueur or herb-roasted potatoes will complete the meal.

Mix it up
To take it to the next level, turn a classic drink into a signature one. Using the traditional flavors of the season can put a fresh spin on the same-old cocktails.

“To make your party unique, it’s good to have one signature drink, but not more than that because you’re going to go nuts preparing them,” says Ori Geshury of Mixology Wine Institute. “Holiday parties are really fun. You can do anything with clove, cinnamon spice, a warm rum punch.”

But it’s also important to provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for guests of all ages. Add some fun for parents and kids by hosting a make-your-own hot cocoa bar, suggests Barry Nachimson, of E Lounge in Cherry Hill/Barry Catering. Keep the hot cocoa warm in a crock pot or carafe for guests to enjoy all night and display mix-ins such as chopped dark chocolate, peppermint pieces or freshly whipped cream in colorful cups for self-serving. Don’t forget caramel syrups or chocolate fudge for guests to drizzle on top. For adults, he says, try mixers like rum, flavored schnapps or brandy—but take it easy.

Remember what’s important
The holidays are for making memories, celebrating with friends and having a good time. This is the one time of the year that some guests may be in town, so why waste a moment with stress?

“The best part of the holidays is being around those you love and care for—so make sure you’re enjoying yourself, as well,” says Keegan Gosik. “When you are relaxed and having fun, your guests will see that and have fun themselves.”

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 10 (December, 2011).
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