People embrace winter in different ways. Some people take it as the perfect time to travel to warmer climates, others welcome it to play or watch their favourite winter sports, and a select few choose to embrace this season by journeying off to snowy adventures.
For my boyfriend and I, winter is a time to experiment with soups, bake cookies, start one Netflix series upon another Netflix series and plop ourselves on the couch like a couple of hibernating bears. Bottom line, for us, winter is the epitomical excuse to stay at home and eat.
So when the Holidays approach and we want to make plans with our family and friends, we tend to opt for hosting festive get togethers instead of traveling in the cold and meeting them at over-priced and crowded restaurants. This way, we get to see everyone while not giving up the comfort of our warm nest.
I know, the thought of hosting more than one soirée during the busy Holiday season might sound like too much work for some, but hosting doesn’t need to be complicated, fancy or expensive.
Essentially, you’re just opening your door and welcoming your favourite people into your natural comfortable habitat to laze around and indulge in food and drink. What better way to do that than doing it together.
In honour of our favourite meal time, we invited our families over for a cozy Sunday Brunch so that they can experience the Millennial’s quintessence of bottomless mimosas and avocado toast. Just kidding, we’re trying to save for a house.
The wonderful thing about hosting brunch, besides day-drinking sans judgement, is that you can prep many of your dishes the night before and assemble/cook that morning just an hour before your guests arrive.
Our spread included smoked salmon and lemon dill cucumber bites to start, and we had croissant sandwiches and frittata egg muffins as the main dish. For those wanting something a little sweeter, we had freshly baked scones and seasonal jams from Kitten & The Bear.
The highlight of our menu was a Middle Eastern inspired fruit salad made with orange slices, pomegranate seeds and halva, drizzled with honey and orange blossom water. Everyone loved the flavour combination of the halva’s nutty sweetness mixed with the citrus and honey. Aesthetically speaking, this dish looked especially festive with the bright red burst of the pomegranate seeds.
Although we did have champagne and orange juice for mimosa-making, our families seemed to prefer the bottomless Bailey’s in their coffee available at our Hot Chocolate Bar.
Chilli Night with Friends
When my boyfriend cooks, he puts all of his patience and love into his dishes. Of course I also put love into my dishes (and baking), but I tend to be a fan of quick and easy recipes, whereas he has more patience to simmer his sauces to perfection, marinade and braise his meats for hours, and he is pretty much a master at making soups and chillis. For that I am one lucky gal, especially in the fall/winter time when he’s in full soup mode.
So when we decided to host our friends’ annual Christmas get-together, we thought chilli would be the perfect dish to serve for a cozy friends night-in.
Not only is chilli delicious and hearty for snowy winter nights, it’s also incredibly easy and low-key to prepare when you’re entertaining. You can actually prep the chilli the night before (note: it will actually taste better the next day) and heat it up and have it simmer until your guests are ready to feast, in which they can grab a bowl and serve themselves and come join you on the couch.
To accompany the deep red bowl of chilli, we grated some smoked cheddar to sprinkle on top and sliced up some fresh baguettes that were naturally used to scoop up the remaining sauce and clean up the bowls.
A festive cheese and charcuterie board with seasonal jams and nuts was available for us to nibble on throughout the night, which I dressed with fresh rosemary leaves to add a more Christmasy look.
For dessert, I baked homemade ginger molasses sandwich cookies with eggnog buttercream, and we had Rumchata-spiked hot chocolate. It’s become a tradition in our house that all warm beverages must be spiked, and no one seems to mind.
Hosting on a weeknight may be a Hard No for some people, and I don’t blame them. But with so many other Holiday events happening for everyone in such a limited amount of weekends, sometimes a weeknight is the only date that works for everyone, so a Tuesday Double Date Night-In it is!
I promise weeknight hosting can be un-complicated. Your menu can be store-bought, picked-up on Ritual and even delivered. Not everything needs to be homemade from scratch.
On that note…of course I had to make something. And that something was these adorable guacamole bites that I saw on Pinterest and re-created for a colourful and tasty snack for guac lovers such as ourselves.
Along with the guac bites, I assembled a “popcorn wreath” snack platter: a lazy Susan adorned with popcorn, and nestled in the middle of the “wreath” was chewy caramel and festive Smarties. All super easy to prep and assemble when you get home from work and while you wait on your UberEats delivery.
Wine Night with the Girls
If you regularly have your crew over for wine/beer/pizza/mermaid parties, then hosting a Holiday night with the girls/boys won’t be anything too new. Nothing really changes except for maybe more wine to consume and an excuse to bake something festive.
My spread was my usual cheese and charcuterie platter (do you see a pattern here? Cheese & charcuterie platters are a delicious crowd-pleasure and so easy to assemble) and caprese skewers, that I prepped the night before. Our usual wine nights consist of ordering pizza, but this time I switched it up with a platter of sushi and appetizer bites.
The only extra “effort” was that I baked Nutella cupcakes and decorated them with these adorable Nutcracker toppers. When I saw these at HomeSense I knew I needed to make Nutcracker cupcakes, which inspired me to create a “Sugar Plum Station” as a dessert station.
As I opened the fourth bottle of red with our 4K fireplace looping in the background and Michael Bublé serenading us from our Google Home, hearing my boyfriend’s laugh amongst the laughter of my family and friends is what the Holidays means to me.
Sure, I love getting dolled up and going to fun events, but at the end of the day, nothing really beats celebrating this time of year with your most-loved people than in the comfort of your most loved place. Your home. Happy Holidays, friends! <3