Holiday hosting is something I can’t get enough of. Since my first year at Queen’s, I’ve hosted a holiday gathering with friends either at my own place or as co-hostess. Living in a condo, we had to rethink the format of our usual all-night, all-out bash.
For the last two years, Mike and I have hosted our friends for a holiday open house & tree-trimming at our condo. No, not in the party room: in our 700sqft of living space! We’re lucky to have a super-functional layout so it’s less daunting than you may think to get dozens of friends through our door in an afternoon.
Last year, we asked that everyone bring an ornament to help us start our collection. As a result, we have a pretty awesome set of ornaments that we cherish – and sometimes leave off the tree so they don’t fall prey to our mischievous cat. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a larger, real tree someday that can support the ornaments *and* Charlie! Speaking of trees…aren’t my pastel sisal trees the cutest? I’ve been buying them in quantity this year. Get them in Large and Medium at Indigo.
After spending all of last year sweating over a hot oven, I decided my focus would be on make-ahead appetizers that didn’t need to be heated up.
- Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms (so easy + delicious! and people think they’re fancy)
- Baked Brie with Sour Cherry Compote
- Spinach Dip in a Pumpernickel Bowl
- Charcuterie + Cheese board
- Assorted PC puff pastry apps
I’ll be honest: I had some more ambitious items like a sheet pan quiche and asparagus-Gruyere tart on the menu, but the puff pastry I found was sub-par and not my friend. After my meringues failed miserably, I ended up whipping up a few batches of Smitten Kitchen’s salted brown butter rice krispies while our friends were over. Oh, and we had panettone. Lots of panettone. And a delicious pistachio-pudding bundt cake our friend Graziella made! Long story short: if at first you don’t succeed, pick something that is no-fail and move on 🙂
If you’re going to cram your friends into your condo, the kind thing to do is to provide some libations. We keep our bar cart well-stocked, but we’re fairly miserable bartenders. So, I stirred up an easy punch (Prosecco, cranberry juice, freshly-squeezed limes + soda water) and mixed a few Aperol Spritzes (Aperol, Prosecco, soda water) for friends who wanted something in a fancy glass. Mike loves scotch and opened up some of his favourite bottles for our guests, too.
And, of course, the reason for the party: the tree trimming! I set out baskets of our cat-friendly ornaments for our guests to hang. And yes, I (mostly) left them where they were placed. Charlie had other decorative preferences, though, and decided to redistribute some of the ornaments (onto the floor) later in the week.
Rochelle is a Christmas newbie but did a great job!
This is our marriage class crew! Brought together by an 8-week, pre-marital course mandated by the Catholic church. It’s basically our two-year anniversary. Aren’t we adorable?
Laurel has wanted to meet Charlie since we brought her home last year. The magical moment captured…
It’s so rare that we manage to get all of our extended friend groups into the same place to mix & mingle. I’m pretty sure the last time this happened was at our wedding – and hardly anyone remembers that! Hopefully this is a tradition we can keep up for years to come as our families grow and change.
What are your favourite Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments! xo
PS. How do you like the brand new layout?? It still needs a bit of sprucing up, but so far I’m happy with it.