We like to entertain at our house for family and friends.  Sometimes this can get out of hand as the host and it can be a bit daunting and stressful and in the end you don’t get to enjoy yourself.  Hopefully this will help you enjoy yourself and your event during the next time you host.  (this is what I did while hosting this years Christmas Eve dinner – but this should helpf for any large hosting event not just Christmas)

My biggest pet peeve when entertaining is getting ready and all set to entertain a large group of family and friends and then as the host, I am having to spend the first hour and a half cooking or prepping appetizers and not really being able to socialize and enjoy the party myself.

Luckily for me (and hopefully you) I found a great way to prep the apps, entertain and socialize with a group AND serve all the food hot and ready to go at the perfect time! How did I do this you ask?

Well Here you go!!

I love these appetizers and this light meal for a group for the holidays and they left me enough time that I was able to lay them out, serve up some cocktails, socialize and enjoy myself as the hostess immensely:

The open house party plan……Cocktails and Light Apps…..

Timing….Guests arrive 4pm and stay til about 7 on Christmas Eve. I decided upon this timeframe, because it offers up the option to drop in, have a cocktail or glass of wine or a beer, grab some light appetizers, visit, and head back to their homes with some festive fun in their bellies but still enough time to prep for the BIG day of Christmas fun. I decided to host it “open house style” so our friends and family would be coming to an “open house” styled event to drop in for a little bit or stay as long as they like. But it is a great way to make for a more “casual” yet festive event as a “open house” rather than a FULL sit down dinner.

My Light Appetizer menu:

Salmon, dill and cream cheese dip w/baguettes —

SIMPLE and elegant! EASY to do.. One can Pink salmon (large can), two 8oz blocks of cream cheese, and a tsp of dried dill, some salt and pepper to mix in –COMBINE all and you let chill in the fridge 20 mins- 2 hours ahead to meld the flavors.

Baked Brie—mmmm so good!

Warm the oven up to 350F. You will need two packs of crescent rolls , two 6-8oz brie cheeses, and raspberry sauce (recipe to follow). Unroll the first crescent dough and simply wrap the brie entirely with the crescent dough from package, kind of like an envelope or wrapping the brie as a gift. Repeat for the second brie and second crescent roll package.

Once they are wrapped, baked brie for about 20 minutes in oven until crescent rolls are browned and brie is warmed and melted. Top w/ raspberry preserve sauce over top and serve immediately with w/ sliced baguettes or crackers. (Raspberry sauce— 1/2 cup raspberry preserves, splash of tabasco, 1 tsp butter, shake of salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp balsamic glaze.

Cheese platter–

Use any festive cheeses for your event.. We used white cranberry Stilton and assorted cheeses w/crackers along with some Jarlsberg Swiss and both were a hit!

A Few Extras

We added some standard chips and salsa and carrots and ranch for the little kids and a couple bowls of olives, black and fancy green for tasters.

My Light Meal Main attraction—

Easy Shrimp linguine.. festive, light and fun! Cook it up and set it out for guests to enjoy —

Set up and set out a few extra sliced baguettes ready to go.

Set up and set out Two to three bags of caesar salad kits w/croutons, set up and ready to be put out on table whenever you need.

For the Easy Shrimp Linguine …..YOU WILL NEED:

2 lbs of linguine —Boil and have set aside for mixing into shrimp sauce later
Melt 2 Sticks of butter and 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes in a large fry pan.

Heat through on medium until butter is melted and flavors meld (approximately 3-4 minutes).

Next, add to the butter sauce 2 cups spinach but chopped (uncooked) and the 3 lbs of shrimp w/tails on (uncooked and thawed and rinsed if need) and add the Salt and pepper. Cook this all together for about 4-5 minutes.. making sure the shrimp turn all the way pink and are cooked through.
Toss the cooked linguine with the shrimp/spinach sauce mix and serve immediately while hot! Great for dipping bread and so yummy!

ALL of the above can be made or set out easily, only the baked brie and the shrimp pasta needs to be done at the last minute before serving so they are both served hot.

This was such a hit of a night. Add any cocktail you so desire, set it all out, and enjoy and spending MOST of your time actually socializing and celebrating! That is the way it should be!  I plan on using this type of setup for any of the next times I am hosting a large group.

Hope this helps with your next event.  We love to hear from you – Give it a try and please let me know what you think!