From Thanksgiving until the end of December is the perfect time of year to open your home for entertaining. You can take advantage of the fact your house will be showing its best side by already being decorated and ready for the festive season.
With the tree all lit up, a few candles all around, a couple of potted poinsettias, some nice Christmas or soft background music and a welcoming wreath at the door, your home will be the perfect stage for any party.
Maybe you have avoided being a host because you thought the stress would be too much. Maybe you are terrified at the thought, but would still like to entertain a small group of friends. Well, here are a few simple ideas that can help you achieve success with a minimum of effort.
For the sake of simplicity, your first consideration would be to decide whether you would like to invite just a few friends, or throw caution to the wind and invite everyone who has ever had you as a guest in their home.
Plan the menu around a few simple ideas or be as elaborate as you feel capable. If you are not overly enthused about the kitchen and cooking, this is not the time to experiment with new recipes.
For your fruit and cheese tray, you should consider at least one ripe cheese, such as Brie or Camembert; one flavored or herbed soft cheese, such as Chevre (white, creamy goat cheese); one yellow cheese, such as Gouda or Cheddar and one blue cheese such as Stilton or Roquefort. All of these should be easily available in any supermarket. For more exotic or sophisticated cheeses, be adventuresome and consult the experts in the specialty shops.
Serve with a selection of crackers and a bunch of seedless grapes and any other appropriate fruit, arranging the fruit and cheeses on a wooden board (a large cutting board would be wonderful for this) and providing several small knives, spreaders and a cheese-slicer.
The cheese and crackers can be bought a few days ahead and stored, well wrapped, until needed. Arrange your fruit and cheese tray a half hour before guests are scheduled to arrive.
If you do serve an alcoholic punch or drinks make sure there are designated drivers in the group and remember to not let your guests drink and drive.
Have a wonderful time and remember to enjoy your own party!