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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

eat, drink & be merry – holiday party 2012

Every year one of the highlights of the holiday season for me is hosting our annual holiday party.  I love getting to see so many of our friends and loved ones from all the different areas of our lives together in one place, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  We feel so very blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives.

This year I opted for a light blue, silver and white color scheme and I loved the way it looked when all was said and done.  The whole thing had a kind of airy, whimsical feel.  The gorgeous party printables from the lovely ladies at TomKat Studio definitely helped pull it all together and added a nice finishing touch.

Definitely one of the biggest hits of the whole night was the hot cocoa bar.  People just loved this.  We put our under-used fondue set to work keeping the cocoa warm, with the accompanying bowls holding assorted garnishes.  (We also had bottles of Kahlua and Bailey’s on the table for an adult variation – quite a popular choice!)  This was such a huge hit, I think we’ll be doing it for years to come.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I recently tried a new (to me) macaron method, and I am a total convert.  For the party I made two varieties of macarons and they were far, far better than anything I’ve made before (…and I really loved the ones I had made before!)  I’ll do a tutorial about this soon.  As a side note, always keep an open mind when choosing your serving dishes for a party.  I repurposed these hurricane candle holders for the party and they were the perfect way to display so many macarons.

My schedule has been very hectic lately so I had to throw this together with a little less planning than normal, but in the end we were really happy with how everything came together.  Having done it so many years in a row, it gets easier every time since there are some staple crowd favorites that must be included.  I opted for very low maintenance dishes to fill in the gaps and it made for an elegant but fairly stress-free event.  The best kind!   Our full menu is below.  I’ll be sharing some of these recipes over the next couple of weeks.  There are a few you will not want to miss!

Savory Appetizers
Antipasto Skewers
Corn Cakes with Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomatoes
Cranberry Brie Bites
Stuffed Mushrooms
Mini Mac and Cheese (this recipe, served in small mason jars)
Herbed Yogurt Cheese Dip with Assorted Crudités

Sweet Treats
Nutella Cherry Hazelnut Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecakes
Double Vanilla Cupcakes (cake/frosting)
Eggnog Macarons
Coffee Macarons
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

  • Mary Beth Nibberich

    Annie, I have been following you now for close to a year….thanks to my niece, Jenny, who has been a fan for quite some time. So this year at our annual cookie exchange, I pulled away from the traditional cookies I always bring and did two of yours….the espresso dark chocolate and rugelach. Let me tell you, both cookies a big success. Over the year I have made so many of your recipes…although would never be as ambitious as some of your creations…i.e. those featured in this posting. Thank you for sharing some many of your fabulous ideas, family, recipes, etc.

    PS: I bought two of those personalized plates from Sara + Abraham site. Too darn cute. Merry, Merry Christmas to you and your darling family.

  • http://cookiemonstercooking.com/ Ashley

    I love this color scheme Annie! It’s beautiful : ) I’ve been wanting to try a hot cocoa bar after seeing the idea pop up a few places… you may have finally pushed me to try it for Christmas!

  • http://profiles.google.com/pecksabatke Kier & Nic Sabatke

    Lovely party! I love the color theme and your menu sounds delicious!

  • disqus_MPqEeUHmHS

    How many guests did you have? Just starting to plan my party and I typically have around 18-25 guests. Thanks

  • Tammy

    where did you get your little circle garland? Etsy?

  • http://twitter.com/foodforliving Lauren Zembron

    I will never cease to be amazed by your ability to juggle a demanding full-time job, two adorable kids, an awesome blog, and these amazing self-catered parties! They always look professionally styled, and I aspire to acquire some of your party-hosting skills =).

  • annieseats

    I just made it using a couple paper punches. Super easy.

  • annieseats

    Probably about 25-30.

  • annieseats

    Awesome! So glad the cookies were a hit. Thanks for all your kind words :)

  • Traci

    Thank you for all you do! I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year! Is it possible to have your eggnog macaroon recipe?

  • Meghan Hunt

    Annie, once again your table looks totally charming! I love that you used blue instead of the traditional red, green, and white. You make innovation look so graceful! We tried this year to incorporate more color in our own holiday decor, but this gives me some new ideas. Thanks!

  • Jaci

    Gorgeous! I love the way you did the lights around the curtains, too — so elegant and festive!

  • Caroline L.

    My jaw is on the floor right now… You surprise me with your creativity every time – your parties always turn out beautiful and charming! Loved this one!

  • mariescuisine

    That sugar cookie tree is stunning!
    The hot cocoa bar is a GREAT idea! I think I will steal this idea for our New Years Family Brunch.

    Looking forward to seeing the macaron tutorial :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Amy.N.Kelly Amy Kelly

    Wow, everything is just stunning! All the details are so thoughtfully planned and beautiful and the food looks delicious!

    Oh, and please do share you new macaron technique asap!

  • http://erinkristine.blogspot.com/ Erin

    What a beautiful party! My friend Alex (from A Couple Cooks) just had to chat to me to brag that he actually got to BE there :) Jealous! Love the idea of mac and cheese in mason jars – sounds like that’d be super cute!

  • Susan Dritt

    How long does it take you to cook/prepare for a party like this…my goodness everything is always so pretty & yummy looking! :)

  • Ann Grismore

    Gorgeous! I am always so impressed and inspired by your party posts. The hot cocoa bar is a brilliant idea and beautifully excecuted.

  • http://www.foodiebride.com/ Shawnda

    The color scheme is absolutely gorgeous! And I love, love the way the macarons look in the vase – such a neat way to display them.

  • Lori

    Can you do a post one day on how your juggle your time? I want to know how you do it! Everything looks beautiful.

  • Julie @ Table for Two

    you throw the best parties out of anyone i know. they’re always so put together and so gorgeous. it’s like out of lifestyle magazine. i wish we were neighbors or close in distance so you could give me some tips or come help me ;)

  • http://www.diaryofateenagebaker.com/ Christina

    you’ve done it again, annie! everything looks pristine. i can’t imagine doing all that by myself!

  • Jennifer Drummond

    I WANT to come to your parties! It looks so beautiful and elegant. You do such beautiful work, you should be so proud of yourself!

  • annieseats

    Why, thank you! :)

  • annieseats

    Aw, thanks Julie! That would be fun :)

  • Loretta E

    I’m so impressed! And you say you threw this together?! I can’t even begin to fathom!

  • http://twitter.com/AnnieNSD Annie N

    This post is such a tease! I can’t wait for the macaron tips/techniques. I know you said you’d post it at the end of the month on facebook, but I’m crossing my fingers it’s sooner!

  • Zoya

    Love the hot cocoa bar! And the party looks amazing! You’re fondue set is so cute and looks perfect for the hot cocoa! Do u remember where you bought it?

  • annieseats

    It’s from Crate & Barrel. We got it several years ago so I’m not sure if they still carry it.

  • http://twitter.com/cookitgirl cook it girl

    So glad i checked my email today! Looking at your pictures reminded me that its christmas time! All of it, is beautiful. I have a quick question, i made vanilla cupcakes the other day and they got so hard after an hour. What makes the cupcakes moist?

  • Lauren M

    Absolutely beautiful! Where did you get your square cake stands? I’ve seen similar ones by Martha Stewart, but they are more an off white color and I would like white.

  • Patti T.

    Very beautiful, I did my tree in those colors one year. You sure know how to make a party very festive.

  • annieseats

    These are Martha Stewart :)

  • annieseats

    It probably just depends on the recipe you use. I’d try a different recipe :)

  • Josie

    Just lovely, Annie! Wish I could have been there to hang out!!

  • Helena

    Really looking forward to the coffee macarons and tutorial.

  • Diane Lo Presti

    Are your Double Vanilla Cupcakes made with your favorite white cupcake from your Funfetti Cupcake Recipe, or is this a new one? Btw, I’m a HUGE fan!

  • http://twitter.com/angiegaz Angie Gazdziak

    What kind of hot chocolate did you use? I want to do a hot chocolate bar for our holiday party.

  • annieseats

    You can use any kind you like. Just prepare however you normally would and use the fondue set to keep it warm.

  • annieseats

    The recipes I used are linked in the menu part of the post. Hope that helps :)

  • http://twitter.com/angiegaz Angie Gazdziak

    Thanks for the tip. I don’t want to spend hours chopping chocolate to serve 50 people (weep), so I’ll probably go with a mix.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alisa.wang.940 Alisa Wang

    Hello Annie! How did the chocolate candy cane cheesecake turn out? If possible, I’d greatly appreciate the recipe, it sounds amazing!

  • annieseats

    If you use a food processor, the chopping goes way faster, and the homemade recipe makes a huge quantity. But, you totally could just do a mix and save some time. I don’t blame you!

  • Thea

    Beautiful! Could you please tell me where you found the cake stand holding the cookie tree? Thanks!

  • Ann P.

    Amazing! What a beautiful party–love the hot chocolate station (such a great idea for a fondue set!) and the sugar cookie tree :) You have the best ideas, Annie!

  • Angela

    I love the color scheme, presentation, and recipes! You have such a great eye for detail.

    Merry Christmas!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DianneMedeiros Dianne Crique Medeiros

    I purchased a fondue set from Crate & Barrell as a wedding present for my husband. A bowl was broken on Thanksgiving this year (my fault for thinking that we had protected the bowls from breaking for over 18 years…) – I was kinda bummed. Then, I saw your set (ours is wood w/a white pot) but the bowls are EXACTLY the same! Ours had been under-utilized as well and I’ve been thinking of ideas to help give it some love.

  • Jordan

    What tip did you use for the cupcake frosting? They’re beautiful! You should do a post on your cupcake frosting techniques!

  • annieseats

    I’m not sure, I just grabbed a random star tip. It is a post I plan to do eventually.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9343331 Lena Starz

    Annie!!! Ive been following u forever and use almost all of ur recipes (well dessert wise hehe) !!! You must please put the macarons tutorial cuz ive been dying to make them!!!!! Lol thank you for ur awesomenessss!!! :D

  • Penny

    Super cute! Where did u get the tree you hung the cookies from?

  • annieseats

    It’s from Target.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730301792 Pechluck Suwatanapongched Lask

    I have to second this idea for a future post! Whenever I play hostess I feel so frazzled and that’s just prepping the food and no decorations! You did such a beautiful job setting up a peaceful winter wonderland with such lovely details, I’d love to hear how you plan and put it all together. You’re an inspiration!

  • annieseats

    I actually have done a couple of posts about my entertaining strategies, which are both linked in this post: http://www.annies-eats.com/2012/12/19/sparkling-cranberry-brie-bites/. I think this reader may have been referring to my general day-to-day life, but I could be wrong.

  • Anne

    You do such a great job explaining your prep work for parties and events. Would you consider doing a post that explains how you plan dinners for a busy work week? Maybe include what you served over the course of a week and how you got it done – what components can be prepped in advance, shopping list and when you went shopping etc? That is what is so hard for me – the day to day stuff and getting it done without totally consuming all of my time. Thanks!

  • annieseats
  • Anne

    How did i miss that? I am so sorry to send you into your archives. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.b.lange Jen Lange

    I third that! I would love to see your timeline notes for your party planning (ordering decorations & supplies, food shopping, early food prep, etc). You are amazing and a true inspiration!

  • annieseats

    Please see the posts I linked in my response to the original comment here. They contain my party planning strategies. Thanks, and so glad you like the site :)

  • celeste ortiz

    Beautiful party, Annie! Would you mind sharing the double vanilla cupcake recipe?

  • annieseats

    Both the cake and frosting are linked in the post :)

  • Lydia

    Ohhh eggnog macarons sound amazing. I hope you share the recipe soon :) The party looks like it was beautiful!