Sunday, December 6, 2009

How I throw a Christmas party

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I LOVE to entertain – it is my joy sharing our home and having friends and family here, eating great food, drinking good drinks and laughing. Lots of laughter. :) This year, we will host three parties this month, and the first was this past weekend.

A few of my girlfriends and I get together every year for our annual ornament exchange. It’s been six or seven years now – none of can remember how many. (We’re getting old.) Since almost all of the Christmas decor is done, (except the main tree -- it just had lights, which was still beautiful), I was able to focus on my regular freak out preparation for the party.

Every time, I say to myself…”I’m not going to clean like crazy. No one will notice the dust on the table. No one will see the toys stuffed under the bed. No one will even go into most of the rooms of your home Sarah, sogetagripwoman!” Yeah. No one will know I’m super psycho and have to clean every inch. Crazy woman.

I don’t clean before the day of the party though – it’s just asking for a special dose of crazy. The little tornado in this house makes that impossible. :) So I’ve learned a trick so I can pace myself to get the house picked up impeccably clean in time for the party.

First step, send the Bub off to the ‘rents. Hubs was out of town, so it was just me. I turned up the ipod and set my timer – 20 minutes per room. I start with picking up, then vacuuming, then dusting. Once the timer goes off, I have to stop and move on.

This works for me because I’ll get lost in cleaning and keep going and going in a room if I don’t have that timer reminding me to move the heck on.

Once the cleaning is mostly done, it’s time to cook. Contrary to popular belief, I can cook. I do cook. I just don’t do it often. :) When it comes to parties, I have a few standbys that are cheap, easy and quick. You can totally make them in between dusting the family room and curling your hair:

Pinwheels

dash of pepper

2 tbsp onion

1/4 c bacon pieces

1/4 c black olives (chopped)

8 oz. cream cheese (softened)

package crescent rolls

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Take the crescent rolls and lay them out on a cookie sheet, smushing the edges together so it makes one large sheet of dough. Then just spread the mixture evenly all over:

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(This picture was pre-spread.)

Then, just roll it up long ways, so it looks like this:

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At this point, I like to put it in the fridge for a while so it firms up just a bit. Then, just cut it into sections, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

YUM-O:

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They are such a perfect mix of buttery roll, a teeny bit of onion and bacon flavor. Who doesn’t love bacon? Serious. Obviously you can take out or add whatever you want for your taste.

The next one is to. die. for. Do you love those cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster? Those buttery, flaky, uuuhmazing biscuits? These are from Southern Living and are so similar. And only three ingredients!

Tiny Cream Cheese Biscuits

one 8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)

1/2 c butter (softened)

1 c self-rising flour

Easiest recipe eva. Mix all ingredients with a mixer, (it will be very thick) then spoon the dough directly into mini muffin pans. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 400 degrees.

I didn’t take a picture of these because I was too busy eating them entertaining. But this is close to what they look like:

biscuits

(Source)

A friend said you can make your own self-rising flour, which I didn’t know! If you want that real Red Lobster taste, just mix in some cheese, or sprinkle some on the top after they are done. They are incredible without though. Seriously, you’ll thank me. :) Heaven in a teeny little biscuit.

I found the easiest cookie recipe, and the easy is mostly because it’s the cookies you get in the package, already cut. But with a few more minutes of work, they become especially scrumptious and adorable.

Three ingredient Christmas cookies

package Pillsbury Christmas tree cookies

one tub icing (you need very little)

sprinkles

Make the cookies as directed, then let cool. Take the bottom of one cookie and ice it (I always use whipped icing and it was especially good on these!). Then place another cookie on top, making a sandwich. Push them together so the icing smushes out, then roll in the sprinkles.

We were ALL surprised at how good these were. I added red hots to the trees just for some spice, but they are not needed:

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I’m not even kidding, these were SO GOOD. Makes me what to make more right this very minute. Yums.

There were only ten of us and we ended up having a TON of food (this wasn’t all of it!):

013But we ate most of it. ;) The beverage of the evening was Sangria, and it is absolutely my new favorite drink. So sweet and fresh and fruity. I’ll show you how I make that after the upcoming Mexican Fiesta!

Are you hosting family and friends this month? Do you go with the flow to prepare or there others like me out there? (Please say yes.) This was the smallest of our three parties, which was a good way to start off the season. Can’t wait for the next two – I just wish they were this week, cause my house is still clean.

I’m off to eat some biscuits peeps.

59 comments:

  1. I'm all for easy peasy in the kitchen so I love the 3 ingredients cookies. AND, they're pretty too!!

    Di
    The Blue Ridge Gal

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  2. How fun! Not sure if we will be hosting this month or not. If we do, it'll be a quick last minute..."hey, are y'all busy tonight" kinda thing. We still haven't finished the floors upstairs, but...who goes upstairs? NO ONE!! I tell myself that, but it doesn't quite sink in!! LOL I'm making a new cranberry/apple salsa recipe served with cinnamon pita chips my SLAH consultant shared with me for our annual bunco party...it is quite yummy!!

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  3. Now these are some recipes that I can try! and those biscuits...Oh Yeah!!!

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  4. Thanks for the recipes, Sarah! I think I'll be trying your pinwheels. They are all ingredients that I love, but I've been gluten-free for a year and won't be able to eat them. I do enjoy making "regular" food though for everyone else, so maybe I'll just have to come up with something I can do with this filling that works for my diet. I'm hosting Christmas Eve for the fam this year and I'm going buffet style. These should work out great.

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  5. I know what you’re talking about. I go a little nuts right b4 out annual holiday Christmas party (ours is on the 12th). I need to try your 20min timer idea…I really drive myself and my fiancĂ© crazy withvall the minor details. I can’t believe your hosting that many parties this month; you go with your bad self! I can barley hang with our 1.


    We have pinwheels and sangria on the menu as well. I was going to make mine with tortilla type bread but a warm flaky crust some delish! I think I will do that! Thanks for sharing!!!!
    http://domesticprincessintraining.blogspot.com

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  6. Yummo!

    I am with you! I drive myself and my hubby crazy when I plan something like that! I'm learning though to let some things go!

    Thanks for all the yummy recipes. I will have to try those this month!

    I can't believe you have having 3 parties this month! Wow! You Rock!

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  7. I've never tried the pinwheels with olives, just bacon & cream cheese...I'm making them Friday so I will try that! And the cookies, too! Thanks for sharing!!

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  8. Thanks for the recipes - I will definately be trying the pinwheels and biscuit recipes - can't wait.
    Sylvia

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  9. I love all your creative and super-easy tips for cooking! We threw a post-Thanksgiving party last week - the first of the season - and I made a delcious "death-by-chocolate" trifle. It was time consuming but worth it! And like you, hubby and I were cleaning the house up the the very last minute!

    http://amyhogan.com/blog/renovation/?p=2407

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  10. I'm a huge freak when it comes to hosting parties. In fact, my sons' 1st and 3rd bday party is this Saturday and I am already in panic mode. You are not alone!!!

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  11. Thanx for the reminders - getting ready for a brunch on Tuesday, and I'm totally stealing the 20-minute rule and the pinwheels recipe. Did you know that Pillsbury has that dough in sheets now so you don't even have to smudge the lines?? I have a great havarti recipe I can share :-)

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  12. Omg, omg, omg, omg. Yum. Sangria!!!

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  13. I always clean like a manic before people come over. It is just my nature. Can't help it! Glad that you had fun at your party.

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  14. I'm new to your blog and absolutely love it...I've read all of it to catch up!! Thanks for the yummy recipes!

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  15. OOh everything looks delicious!! I am hosting my boyfriend and mine's family over the week of Christmas! These are great ideas! :)

    http://tinasz.blogspot.com/

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  16. okay are you seriously adding cooking to your blogging repertoire? We {I} already can't keep up!!! ;)
    You are amazing!

    PS I made your wreath!! I LURVE it!
    thimbleambitions.blogspot.com

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  17. That all looks so delicious. And EASY - just my style! I go pretty crazy with the cleaning too if I know people are coming over.

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  18. Thanks for the great sounding recipes! Great pics!

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  19. First time commenter...I just adore your blog, and all of the recipes and ideas you share. I have to ask, although I am pretty sure it is, is that a Dough Makers sheet pan? They make the most fabulous baking items, and are a local company for me (about twenty minutes down the highway from me). I make this same pinwheel recipe, and have used capers before instead of olives. They are a definite crowd favorite.

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  20. I really want to be at your Christmas party after seeing your food! Umm, delicious! Those cream cheese biscuits sounds so yummy. This post was perfect timing because I'm throwing a holiday party this Sunday. Much appreciated.
    Lisa

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  21. I am all about a timer. It helps so much!

    the recipes sound wonderful...want to try them all!

    Please post your sangria recipe! I have never made it...don't drink much, but I love Sangria.

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  22. I am only hosting one party this season, a Christmas Tea. I do it every year. And, yes, I am a nut about cleaning and preparation. I don't have any small children at home anymore so I usually take a few days to get ready.
    In a former life (!), we had a huge Christmas open house every year. I wrote everything in a journal anytime we had guests so that I could remember what I served, whether or not it was a hit, etc. I cleaned for an entire day (teenager in house) just the day before and starting cooking the morning of. It was a lot of work but always worth it...but I am guessing no one ever noticed how clean and perfect it was after they had their second glass of wine!

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  23. You really outdid yourself. Everything looks incredible, and I totally get you on the obsessive cleaning. Exact same thing happens in our house.

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  24. YUM! I will definitely be trying theses recipes this Christmas, thanks for sharing!

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  25. What a great idea about cleaning in each room for 20 minutes! I tend to do cleaning the night before and freak. So this is a great tip. Thanks for the yummy food ideas also!

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  26. I'm definitely going to try the 20 min per room cleaning, its right up my alley! I already use the timer for motivation. Love the recipes too, thanks!
    Kathy

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  27. Yummers!!! And for a noncook (me!) they are easy. Thanks for the recipes. :)

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  28. All sound very tasty! My daughter was wanting to make cookies and things at her house so we will have to try these!
    Ulrike

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  29. One of my very favorite parts of having a party is that the house is still clean AFTER the party--you just throw away the paper goods, load the dishwasher, and voila! Beautiful! Sounds like this was a fun time! Thanks for the recipe.

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  30. Thanks for the great tips and recipes! I love the idea of cleaning and timing yourself and then moving on to another room. I seem to just go all over the place and never finish a room.

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  31. You are so not alone! LOL My annual ornament exchange is this Saturday and I'm like a mad woman around here! (hubby is glad he has to work for a living around this time) Trouble with me, I get sidetracked so easily... like, I'll be dusting, and for some reason want to organize my underwear drawer, or the closet! I have never yet taken a guest to see my underwear drawer or the bedroom closet, so I ask myself "WHY?!?" I haven't answered that one yet. LOL

    Come on over to my blog this weekend (probably Sunday) when I will probably be blogging about my ornament exchange and a cool idea for everyone as to how I handle the food! LOL

    sweetjeanette.blogspot.com

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  32. Ooooh, thanks for the recipes! Easy is ALWAYS good. Great ideas, I will be using them...
    Happy Holidays!

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  33. YUMMY!!!!!!!! Anything with bacon and/or cream cheese is for me! Thank you very much for giving us the recipes!
    Looks like you all had a great evening.

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  34. Great tips! I'm hosting my in-laws for a long weekend right before Christmas, and YES, you aren't alone....I totally "go Martha" and wish everything was "just so"! LOL! We may do a friends evening of cookies/desserts & milk too. Simple & fun for all ages!
    Blessings,
    Stacey

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  35. You have some serious YUM factor going here!! I am definitely try the pinwheels for my Christmas buffet! Thanks for sharing.

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  36. Thanks so much for the great recipes! I made your AWESOME pretzel and candy cane Hershy kisses "thing" (What are they really? Cookie? Candy? Party in my tummy?) for Thanksgiving, and the were GONE. Loved them. The next day I went to Hobby Lobby with my sisters and thought of you! What would TDC buy? Thanks for always posting such great ideas. My house is so much more Christmas-y this year thanks to your example.

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  37. Thank you for the recipes!! I just might give those pinwheels a whirl this Christmas. :) I had no idea they are so easy to make!

    We hosted my daughter's 4th bday party on Saturday, and will have all of our family (plus my SIL's fam) over on Christmas Eve. I'd love to do more, but the funds for entertaining just aren't there this year. I used to do ALL the cooking for our Christmas Eve dessert/appetizer party, but with two little ones and Christmas morning to get ready for, I just can't anymore. We make it a potluck and it's so much fun, and yes I do stress about the cleaning!!! :)

    Stop by if you can...my 1 Year Blogiversary/Christmas Giveaway is on today. :)

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  38. I am so glad to see someone else that does what I do!!! I call (your 20-minute plan) my "15-minute cleanup." You're right. It is the best thing ever to set the timer and know you have to move on to the next room when the timer goes off. I clear the clutter first (but I don't put it away--I just put it in a pile or box for distribution to other rooms later) then I determine the most important thing that needs to be done in that room--begin with that and then I continue to zoom as fast as I can. Music helps a lot too. It's an adrenaline thing. I like to try to beat the clock. ;) If it doesn't get finished it's ok--at least I know that someone can arrive at my front door and I won't die of embarrassment! I don't know where I learned the idea from but I'm with you. IT WORKS!!!

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  39. How in the world is it that I have only JUST TODAY discovered your AMAZING blog???

    I am addicted! You are my decorating/blogging/entertaining/ thrifting hero!

    Best wishes, Natasha.

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  40. Since I have just recently discovered your blog, I am trying to catch up on some of your older posts.
    I love your recipes and I want to try the tiny cheese bisquits.
    Thanks for all the tips.

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  41. Thanks for the post as always I love what you have to share with us! I'm going to try out those cookies!
    Here's an idea, since you are shaping the crescent dough, why not shape it into a wreath?

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  42. I totally stress myself out before hosting parties. I host one every Christmas for the kids in the neighborhood. We do a book exchange and Santa usually visits too. We are up to 18 kids now in our group. God help me! 18 little ones running around in my small house! Of course they do not care about dust or how clean the house is, but the parents attend too, so I clean, clean, clean. I stick to the rooms that will be seen though. The clutter usually gets gathered up and shut in my bedroom for the day!
    Thanks for the recipes! Can't wait to try them!

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  43. THanks for the pinwheel recipe! I am going to try that for my Christmas party!

    I know I am not the first to tell you this, but your home sure looks lovely this time of year!

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  44. I just have to try the pinwheel recipe. They look simple and yummy!!! Looks like it was a fun party and I love your cleaning idea (20 minutes per room)! Gonna try that, too!!!

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  45. Thanks for the cleaning tips. I too will get caught up in a room and get carried away. I'll have to try the timer trick soon. Thanks for the recipes too!

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  46. I have a work party this week and didn't know what to bring...until now! Just gotta pick out of the 3 ideas you posted. Does look YUMMO!!!

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  47. What fun recipes!!! I am going to have to try them this year!!

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  48. 1. Bacon is the candy of the meats and should be included in any and all recipes.

    2. The only thing better than one Pilsbury cookie is TWO Pilsbury cookies.

    3. That cleaning for company rule is so unrealistic - who cares about dusting? The question is how in the world can you possibly touch up baseboards and nail holes in the wall in 15 minutes? Sheesh. It takes me that long to find the paint cans...

    OCD much?

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  49. I don't even remember HOW I found your blog but I LOVE it:) You introduced me to fake snow...NO idea how I've never seen this...well, let me say, I tried to fill this odd little vase I inherited from my dear grandmother...an hour into it, I gave up...I mean, when do you ever really see a vase completely filled with snow?? Some of it has surely melted, right?!? LOL...love your decorations around your entire house!!

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  50. Thanks for sharing! The recipes seem fairly straight forward and simple, which I am all for during the holidays. I am going to try everything. If you have any more wonderful recipes, please share!

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  51. I am usually cleaning and so busy with food prep the day OF the party I am in the shower literally an hour before the guests are due to arrive and so tired out that I am ready for bed....feel better? lol

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  52. Thanks for sharing some quick and easy recipes...I'm very appreciative as we have some holiday festivities coming up ourselves!

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  53. The last two weekends we've had friends and or family over for movies , games, and laughter. food has been LOW KEY- usually take out. i love this pin wheel recipe- we are hosting Christmas Eve this year and I am so going to try this! Thanks. :)

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  54. I made your pinwheels for my work party, and they were a hit! They are so dang good! Thank you for sharing, I didn't know what to make, and then I stopped by your blog and there it was :). My husband also told me I was the best wife in the world for making some for him too. I will definately be using this recipe in the future!

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  55. First of all I want to give you due warning that I am going to make these recipes. But - this is very important [to me] - I have to verify the ingredients on the biscuits. You're saying 8 oz. of cream cheese, a whole stick of butter - and ONE cup of flour? Don't you need 2-3???

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  56. Looks like a delicious party! I'm definitely giving these pinwheels a try soon. Thanks!

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  57. I saw the recipe for the cookies but thought I wanted to make all my cookies homemade this year, now you have me wishing I would have tried it...might have to make those for Valentine's Day then!
    Please tell me what kind of brownies are in the last picture? I have had a certain type of brownie that I can't find a recipe for and those look like the ones...I can't remember the name, I only had them when extended family came to reunions.

    Love your recipes and your yummy treats! Thanks for sharing!

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  58. I made the mini cream cheese biscuits tonight to go with dinner. I cut the recipe in half for just the two of us. I should have made the whole thing and frozen the rest. The are so yummy and flaky. I may heat up the rest to have with jam for breakfast. This is a keeper!
    Thanks, Rita

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  59. I just found your blog last week. I have been spending way too much time on it. :-0 I LOVE IT!!!! I just made the pinwheels. Yummy!!!! I didnt put in the olives because I am not a fan. I added a little garlic powder. I have the Tiny Cream Cheese Bisquits in the oven. Cant wait.

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