The first time that Hal met most of my New York friends was at a Christmas party I hosted in my first Brooklyn apartment. It felt giddily celebratory for a lot of reasons–I finally had an apartment suited to having a party, I was living in Brooklyn and so much closer to so many of my lovely friends, and I was dating a guy I was really excited about. And, of course, it was a chance to make my favorite treats for some of my favorite people, something absolutely love to do. Hal and I moved in together the following September, and since then we’ve hosted three Christmas parties together (plus a house warming, a baby shower, a rehearsal dinner, and a birthday fete here and there), the last just yesterday. And I still love making my favorite treats for my favorite people. So much so that I’ve developed a pretty set menu for our snacky desserty parties.
In planning this year’s party, I started to worry that maybe the menu was a little too set. I’ve kept a list of the food we’ve served at every party Hal and I have hosted together, going back to that first Christmas party in my Cobble Hill apartment in 2012, and the overlap from menu to menu is…not small.Was it boring that I kept feeding people the same food every year? Should be trying all new things. Happily for me and my hosting angst, one of my sweet friends mentioned how much she was looking forward to our party, and in particular to the food she knew I would make. I went from worried about being stale to proud of creating a tradition that the people I love can look forward to.
For savories, my must haves are cheddar wafers, deviled eggs, and devils on horseback, also known as bacon wrapped dates. Bacon wrapped dates are one of my favorite favorite foods in general, and I love making them for parties. They totally don’t need a recipe, but here’s what I generally do: preheat the oven to 400F, pit your dates, stuff in a little chunk of cheese (I generally go with manchego), and wrap in a little piece of bacon. I typically just tear my bacon as I go, and can wrap three dates with one strip of bacon. Then I do what Ina Garten taught me to do with bacon in general, and roast them on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet lined in tinfoil. 20ish minutes in the oven, or until the bacon gets crispy. Delicious, and such a crowd pleaser. For the last two years I’ve also made Laura’s (and Joie’s!) awesome jalapeño popper dip, and it’s definitely staying in the rotation from here on out. And we always always get frozen pigs in a blanket–just wouldn’t be a party without them.
I’ve usually kept sweets relatively simple, since folks tend to be pretty sweet saturated at this time of year. I’ve made smitten kitchen’s salted brown butter rice crispy treats for every single one of our holiday parties, and don’t see that changing…ever. Peppermint crunchies are my other absolute must have and Hal;s definite favorite, and beyond that I’ve mixed it up a tad. I love making chocolate dipped potato chips, and this year I added a style of meringue cookie with mini chocolate chips that my mom used to make every Christmas season (post coming soon!) to our dessert tray. And to drink, Grandma Mary’s eggnog, of course. Cheers to tasty traditions and happy holidays!