Anatomy of a Holiday Party

November 28, 2018

I hope today’s blog post doesn’t find you reeling too hard from last week’s Thanksgiving celebration. Don’t worry about itβ€”think of last week’s festivities as a dress rehearsal for your upcoming holiday gatherings, whether they’re taking place at work or in your home. Keep reading below to see the skeleton-the main elements- of a successful social holiday gathering that is not only delicious but also creative and healthy.

1. SNACKBOARD

The snackboard is your buffet’s centerpiece. This is the thing people will be talking about next November when they’re brainstorming their own holiday party. Oh but do you remember the snackboard they had over there at what’s her name’s house, that friend’s party you brought me over to? Yeah, see, they didn’t remember the host’s name, but they’ll remember a well-executed snackboard, yes they will. I could do a blog post dedicated entirely to the great world of snackboards, but the simple formula is this-

mixed olives (you buy these, no, really, you don’t have to brine them yourself)

spiced nuts (a fat, a sweet, a spice -cayenne or chili powder-, a signature herb (sumac, za’atar, etc), and sea salt)

a dip or two (hummus or a roasted veggie that has been pureed into a dip)

fresh veg

fresh fruit

edible flowers (if you can stomach the pain of throwing down cash for something that will eventually be thrown away)

There really isn’t any strategy in how you arrange everything. It evolves organically and comes out unique every time. But it comes down to this- if the store has navel orange or blood orange, choose blood orange, if the store has Fuji apple or the one that’s pink inside, obviously you’re buying the pink one. Regular radishes, or watermelon radish? Come on.

2. STICK A TOOTHPICK IN IT…

…then dip it. Not only are round items with toothpicks sticking out of them convenient for folks who are eating standing up or perched on the very edge of your crowded couch, they don’t sap your energy while you’re making them. Once you decide your base (tempeh, tofu, almond meal, millet, quinoa, etc) and flavor profile, throw everything into a food processor, and then roll into balls and arrange on parchment on a baking tray. While your bite-sized main course is in the oven, mix a sauce in your blender. If it’s ginger turkey meatballs, you’ll opt for something like a peanut butter sauce. If it’s a falafel, you’re making something with tahini, and if it’s something involving corn and black beans, make an avocado based sauce.

3. YES, SALAD.

While salad is not inherently as convenient as #2 above, your guests will be in a (delighted) state of shock to see the only leafy greens they’ve seen in weeks. If convenient “eatability” is still your top priority, opt for a stuffed-lettuce-something rather than a large bowl of greens. Above we have quinoa boats topped with pomegranate (ahem, do these if you’re going for falafel in #2), or go the most obvious route with endiveβ€”fill leaves with olive tapenade or a hummus.

4. NOT A PIE

So far you’re already winning, because the first thing your guests saw when they walked in the door was your masterpiece of a snackboard which got them interested, you offered a substantial dippable protein for hungry folks coming from work, which lifted their mood, AND you’re the only person in the last 6 weeks to offer something light and crunchy in salad form (they couldn’t believe you could have predicted their own need before they were even aware of it themselves). People often think, oh, no one’s going to eat dessert at a holiday party, they’re sick of it! They’re not sick of dessert, they’re sick of all the desserts at all the other holiday gatherings they’ve been to so far. They’re sick of pie, pie, pie. They’re demoralized by the white flour and refined sugar they’ve been choking down. But not in your house. There will be dessert AND it will be plant forward and healthy AND everyone will rave about it. Since it’s all…you guessed it…bite-sized, you’ll see them trying to stuff some of your desserts into their pockets to take home to their kids, but you’ll be ready with mini ziplocsΒ you’ll be ready with environmentally friendly mini mason jars (they’ll give them back when you see them at work or at yoga, right?). Date-based Turmeric Ginger Bliss bites are an easy option, or mini Apple Spiced Donuts-made from almond meal, oats, and real apples.

OK there you have it, I’ve broken it down for you… BUT I haven’t typed up any exact recipes for you, well, because I would really love to cater your holiday gathering for you. Contact me here or DM me over on Insta or email me marisalavalette@gmail.com. Happy Holidays!

Which part of the holiday party skeleton do you think will resonate most with your guests? What is a must-have for you at your holiday parties? Let me know in the comments below!

Marisa LaValette

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