Monday, December 6, 2010

my holiday happy hour

This past weekend was my Annualish Holiday Happy Hour.  I skipped one year and reserve the right to skip one in the future, but I do love hosting this party.  It's always the first Saturday in December and it's officially a happy hour so that I'm not competing with other parties (though if you want to stay until midnight, I won't complain).  I want e'ryone at my house!

It's also a great reason to make sure my house is decorated early and well.  I even string lights outside around my deck and along my clothesline.

Possibly my favorite part of the decorations, even though it's so cold that you can't really experience it.  I do keep the lights up year-round and the clotheslines ones didn't die over the summer!  The ones on the deck did, but were easy to replace since the thumbtacks were still in place.

I do a spread of heavy appetizers, changing up the menu each year.  This year it was mini pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches, toasted baguette slices with cheeses and meat, crudite with dill dip and a big bowl of peppermint Oreos.  Then beverages are wine, beer, homemade eggnog and something non-alcoholic but still festive.  I kinda loved my non-alcoholic beverage choice this year that I made totally on the fly so am going to share with you!

Cranberry Punch
Light Cranberry Cocktail
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated Splenda
Diet Gingerale

Pour the cranberry cocktail into a pitcher.  Heat up the water and stir in the Splenda until combined.  Add to the cranberry cocktail and taste.  Should be a little too sweet.  If it's not sweet enough, heat up some more water, add some more Splenda.  Right before serving, add the gingerale.

So freaking easy.  I heated up the water to help the Splenda dissolve.  You could easily use sugar instead, but in addition to one pregnant lady, I also had at least one hardcore dieter. 

For my eggnog, this year I went raw.  I usually make cooked eggnog, but I HATE HATE HATE making the custard.  Did I express my dislike for this process enough?  HATE HATE HATE.  I always overcook it and either end up with chunky nog or strain it and end up with overly boozy nog.  Plus it just takes freaking forever.  Raw nog?  So easy.  My new favorite.  This recipe is pretty good, though I think it calls for too much alcohol.  I skipped the brandy and did just two cups of rum and let it sit overnight, but it was still crazy strong.  I think maybe doing 1 1/2 cups would be perfect.  Next time.

I forgot to take pictures of the inside of my house, but the set-up was pretty much the same as last year.  I did, however, take a picture of my groaning fridge:

I would say that 95% of this was stuff intended for the party.  Craziness.  Especially since about 1/4 of the folks who RSVP'd yes ended up not being able to make it last minute or had to leave early. 

But it was a good party full of special people and it made me so happy that I have this tradition of opening my house to my friends!

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