More intimate than in a club, more informal than in a restaurant, the house party with friends to exchange greetings and gifts is the right solution for those who love to receive during the holidays. Whether it is an established habit of yours, or you are thinking about it this year for the first time, here is the handbook for an impeccable organization.
The right formula
Not an aperitif, not a dinner placé but a happy medium: the ideal formula for this type of invitation is the one that, in the seventies, was called cocktail party. In fact, the expression was born even earlier, at the beginning of the last century, with a rigid code of rules and labels which, fortunately, has been lost in favor of an easy and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for celebrating. The watchword is freedom: for the host, that of choosing and arranging the most disparate of foods and drinks; for those who participate, to use it at will, without the constraint of a seat at the table and with the possibility of wandering, chatting, toasting with whoever you want.
At what time?
The informality of the occasion is evident from the time of the day. For this type of reception, in fact, it is generally "open" from 18.30-19 until 21. This means that guests can arrive when they prefer, starting at the indicated time. Courtesy that will be appreciated by those who, like everyone, have to navigate through a thousand different commitments these days. It being understood that it is good manners, if invited, confirm with a rough timetable.
A warm atmosphere
Before even thinking about drink lists and menus, it is necessary set up the house. There are those who place a small Christmas decoration right on the intercom in the street, those who display a themed doormat outside the door, decorated with garlands and festoons. But of course the interiors are the ones on which to best apply your skills such as interior designer! Starting with the kitchen – who knows why! – at all parties it is intended to welcome numerous guests. A classic are the decorations hanging on the window frames: lights and sparkling balls to contrast with the darkness of the night, writings and drawings made with white sprays that simulate snow and candles placed in strategic corners will make this environment warm and welcoming. Greater care, of course, in the living room: if the tree and the crib are inevitable, there are many corners that can be decorated. The chairs can be embellished with ribbons and bows. The shelves of the bookcase, the television cabinet or the bar cabinet light up with the light of candles or LED "firefly" threads and can accommodate Santa Claus figurines, sparkling balls, pine branches, golden pine cones and so on. suggest your fantasy. It is forbidden to turn on powerful chandeliers, the ideal solution are wall lights and floor lamps (even "stolen" for the occasion from other rooms in the house!), Scattered here and there and oriented towards the walls and ceiling, to create a soft and suffused light. A low volume compilation of Christmas music will be the discreet soundtrack of the event.
What to cook?
The menu must take its cue from typical holiday preparations. Bet above all on appetizers: those cold, like salmon or pâté canapes, they can go out at the beginning of the party; of those hot, like vol au vent, provide two or three trays to be baked as guests arrive, to always serve them at the right temperature. Can't miss a nice selection of cured meats and cheeses, accompanied by fruit mustard and vegetables, even better if homemade. Always spot on savory pies which have the advantage of being good hot, lukewarm or at room temperature. They are inspired by Christmas chicken salads, hen or capon to be completed with pomegranate grains, raisins, pine nuts, walnuts and, why not, apple or orange wedges. Also plan one or two hot dishes, to be released around dinner time, when all the guests have arrived. Baked pasta o lasagna will have been prepared in advance and will only be heated at the last moment. Like meat, it is better to provide something that does not require the use of a knife. Always guess the fried meatballs (also good cold) or stewed, but also a goulash or a stew a morsels little ones, who will be able to stay warm on the stove at minimum until the moment of reaching the table, perhaps accompanied by a steaming (quick-cooking!) polenta. If you prefer to serve some fish, think of sautéed prawns or scampi (already shelled), or swordfish or tuna rolls, which are easily cut even with a fork. As a side dish, prepare a pan of carrots, fennel, pumpkin, celeriac, cabbage, all in pieces and wedges, brushed with oil, salted, peppered and baked for half an hour at 200 °.
For the recipes, of course you can browse our website among our selections of canapes, savory pies, baked pasta and stews.
And the desserts?
No, we haven't forgotten them. And they can't be missing. Starting with the traditional ones. Panettone and pandoro they are served on pre-cut trays, in slices divided in half to satisfy those who "I just a small piece"! They can be accompanied with sauces and creams, in large bowls with serving spoons. Already divided into flakes and slices they will offer themselves nougat, panforti and other unleavened sweets. Backsplashes and trays will be able to accommodate Marron glace, chocolates, ricciarelli and various pastries.
How to serve?
THE finger food they are the right solution if the number of guests is limited to 8-10 people, considering that they are in a single portion, it is also necessary to provide for some encores and each one needs its own container. There are many suitable containers on the market: if possible, choose them in recyclable materials such as paper or materials compostable (it is indicated on the packaging). But you can also use cocktail cups, shot glasses, coffee cups and saucers for personalized and creative arrangements. If the guests are numerous, the ideal is the classic buffet with the dishes arranged on trays and serving plates, each with its own serving cutlery. For hygienic reasons, it is better to say goodbye to various chips and pretzels arranged in bowls from which guests serve themselves. If you really want to offer them, you can arrange them in individual bowls or cellophane bags, even mixing the qualities. Flake cheeses and cured meats can be placed on large cutting boards, with serving tongs. One or more baskets will accommodate small sandwiches or rustic loaves cut into cubes, always with their tongs.
To arrange plates, cutlery, glasses and napkins, provide an area of the buffet table or, better still, a separate support surface. If the tone of the reception is chic, you can take out the dishes from the "good" services. But also among the products disposable now there are many very nice and elegant Christmas-themed proposals, to be chosen always with a keen eye on theeco-sustainability and of course dispose of properly!
What to drink?
We leave this chapter for last even if a glass is the first thing to offer to every guest, as soon as he crosses the threshold of the house. You are never wrong with the bubbles: whether they are Prosecco, Franciacorta, Trentodoc or another of the excellent classic method sparkling wines produced throughout Italy. If the start of the party coincides with aperitif time, you can serve classic cocktails such as Negroni and Spritz, also prepared in large jugs, so as not to have to dose the different drinks from time to time. Don't forget a non-alcoholic drink. Very Christmas are the pomegranate, cranberry, grape and apple juices, always served in jugs, which you can flavor by leaving them for a few hours to infuse with cloves, cinnamon, citrus peel and star anise. THE white and red wines they will agree to the different dishes. And at the time of the desserts, sweet it will also be the sparkling wine: from the classic Asti Docg to the Extra Dry and Dry bubbles, despite the name the most sugary ones, which perfectly marry the fragrance of Christmas leavened products.
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