Is This Your First “Holiday” Supper?
As the holidays quickly approach on the heels of a summer not ready to be forgotten, like clockwork, family and friends are already trying to claim you at the head of their dinner table. And rightfully so – you’re the life of the party I’m sure! But, with so many invitations and dramatic personalities to avoid, how do you decide which ones to attend? This year, you don’t have to! Why not host a holiday event at your place for once and show them how it’s really done? Stress free, guest participation and absolutely budget friendly!
Being the oldest in a family of four and the oldest grandchild of a family eleven times as big, I stayed in the kitchen, picking up tips, recipes and lending an extra hand during the days of my childhood. Until, of course, one year I was left to make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners practically alone. It was a great learning experience nonetheless, but as I got older I realized, I did not want to feel like I was working in a soup kitchen on my favorite holidays, serving large groups of people four course meals and barely getting enough time to enjoy family time, let alone eat the food I slaved over for days! No I’m not exaggerating… DAYS! And of course, who do you think was in the kitchen cleaning up? Muah.
I began to despise the holidays, being met with gender role responsibilities, it just made me angry until it came to a head one year and I refused to lift a finger. That lasted all but 20 minutes until I saw things falling apart, and no, I’m not talking about the freaking turkey! I needed a change and quick. This event occurred twice every year and if I was going to survive it, I had to come up with a better solution. And then it came to me…
Why not host a Thanksgiving POT LUCK?!!
I invited friends and family to my home who I just knew would enjoy the idea and use this opportunity to show off their own culinary skills. Everyone brought something delicious with their own utensils and containers, liquor and wine, games, games and more games! And what’s even more exciting, they helped me clean up! Pa-RAISE the holiday heavens!
Oh my God it was the best idea ever! Instead of cooking an ENTIRE meal by myself, the most I had to do was coordinate the menu with everyone so we didn’t have five pans of mac and cheese, three turkeys and one bottle of soda on the holiday spread! Instead of spending my time cleaning greens, basting turkeys, glazing ham and peeling sweet potatoes, I spent my time making a couple of dishes and decorating my adorable little apartment like the cute little DIY’er I am. We enjoyed great food some of us may not have tried otherwise; great laughs and of course better memories to last me through the next holidays for years to come. Every now and then, when I have to drag myself to an event I’m attending out of obligation, I reminisce on the great times I had with amazing people and secretly plan the next one.
If this is your first time hosting a holiday event or you have a fear of cooking for a large number of people, try alternating holidays this year. This Thanksgiving, host a pot luck at yours or a friend’s house and save your Christmas cheer for those who really need it! You know exactly which members of your family I’m talking about! Bah- humbug!
Here are some great tips on how to host a Holiday Pot Luck.
- Create an INTIMATE list of fun friends and family. Do not invite people out of obligation or I can assure you, you will not have the fun you set out to have. Instead you’ll be catering to a party pooper and that just defeats the purpose now doesn’t it?
- Use a free online invitation service like Evite, utilizing the amazing templates to give your party a nice festive theme. Here, people can leave comments confirming their attendance and the dishes they choose to bring. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to list any allergies or food preferences so everyone is accommodated. Here is a link to some Evite Thanksgiving Pot Luck specific invites.
- Pick 1 maybe 2 dishes you’d like to make and stick to it. Don’t get over excited and decide to cook any and everything. That’s why the universe gave us friends. Use them.Word of advice:
If you’re set on having turkey at your pot luck, do yourself and your guests a favor and bake turkey wings. For some reason, people love to fight over wings and unfortunately the third person looses. Some folks don’t understand that God only gave them two. Don’t make them wait around for next year. Just buy a bag and keep it movin’.
- Purchase seasonal decorations from the dollar store. They have great cheap decor and punch bowls, plastic utensils, table covers and anything else you think you would need. But remember, don’t overdo it. Keep it budget friendly.
- The week of your event, reach out to anyone who has not responded and confirm your total guest list and menu. Make sure your guests aren’t bringing double dishes unless of course it’s a cook off, then its game on!
- Invite and/or inform your neighbors. If you don’t want them in your house because you don’t really know them, no biggie. Don’t invite them. But, do inform them of the festivities you’re hosting so they’re not surprised – number 1 that you even have friends let alone noisy ones and you’re not surprised when the Po-Po is knocking on your doh-doh!
- Make sure your playlist is set and you have enough music to last you all night. It sucks when people are waiting for guests to arrive and it’s just you, the punctual friend and the scratches at your bedroom door from your dog you stashed away for the evening. Play some music to drown him out.
- Have some munchies before the main courses are served. Chips, meatballs with colorful tooth picks and punch will do. Save all of the good food for later.
- DO NOT use this time to invite your EX just so they can see how much fun you’re having without them. Inviting drama is not cute. DO invite that guy or girl you’ve been talking to and introduce them to the fun people who matter in your life.
- Take lots of pictures, play ice breaker games, enjoy your night and remember to have fun! It’s also fun to vote on everyone’s favorite dish and give an early Christmas gift as a reward. Something budget friendly of course and if you can stretch it, a goodie bag on the way out.
- Don’t be shy to ask for help cleaning up. Pass out garbage bags if you must. If they’re your friends, they’ll get your sense of humor and they’ll understand why. After all, it’s just you and the dog right? I’m sure after you locked him up in the room all night, he’s not in the mood to wash your dishes and take out your garbage.
Here’s a quick and easy recipe for your First Pot Luck! Enjoy and don’t burn the house down!
Zesty Apple Blueberry Cobbler
by Toi Stori
Prep Time: 20 min. Active Time: 40 min. Total Time: 1 hr. Serves: 6
For the Filling:
4 Granny Smith apples
1 Medium sized container of fresh blueberries about 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, Allspice or apple pie spice
2 oranges juiced
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
For the Topping:
1 Cup of pancake mix or all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon of orange zest
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Tablespoon of allspice
1/2 Tablespoon of cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 Cup of water or milk
1/2 Cup of brown sugar
1. Preheat to 350 degrees F.
2. Make your filling: Peel your apples cutting them into 1/2-inch slices. If you have an apple cutter, even better and quicker. Throw them in a bowl and toss them with granulated sugar and lemon juice. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, until slightly softened, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes. Add flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract, orange juice and allspice and stir. The juices should thicken a bit in 2 minutes. When done, remove from the heat and add in the blueberries. Let this cool completely.
3. Make The Topping: Combine the pancake mix or flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon and orange zest in a large bowl. Cut in 3 tablespoons butter with a spoon. Add the water or milk; stir until you get light brown dough and until there is no loose flour in the bowl. Spoon the dough into your flour dusted hands and form round balls flattening them into biscuits. This should make about 6 pieces of dough.
4. Spoon the filling into a buttered casserole dish and top with brown sugar. Place the dough evenly around the casserole dish on top of the filling, finishing with 1 piece of dough for the center. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Transfer to the oven and bake until the topping is golden and crispy, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for about an hour and eat warm.
Eat and Enjoy~
Mine turned out like this! It was fabulous! Try this and everyone will wonder where you learned to do that?!