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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 and be merry – 2013

This year, hosting our annual holiday party was a bit more hectic than usual.  The party itself was super fun, but the days leading up to it were stressful.  I’m telling you, having less than four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas is NO GOOD. I had other commitments almost every night* leading up to the party meaning I didn’t have much time to work on party prep in advance.  But you know what?  I don’t care.  And that is why I’m writing this post.  This is my reminder to you that whether you have a ton of time to plan a fancy shindig, or one day to throw together a laid back gathering, your friends will appreciate it. The point of it all is spending time together.  The food, the details – that’s all secondary.

Many of you have been asking for pics and details of our party.  What you see here is pretty much all the photos I took. The morning of the party was also the one day of the year that Santa would be where we always take the kids to see him.  Even though I knew I would be giving up at least three hours of prep time to take them and we had to contend with very snowy weather conditions, I didn’t care.  Their memories are so much more important to me than my party.  Caroline didn’t want to sit on Santa’s lap but did tell him from the safety of Dad’s arms that she would like some new books.  Andrew had a lengthy conversation with him, and then asked for a green toy dragon. It was perfect.

Since I knew I would be so short on time this year, I planned a menu of things that were pretty easy to throw together and that could mostly be made the night before the party so I wouldn’t have as much to do the day of.  Here’s what we had:
Savory
Stuffed mushrooms (this version as well as the spinach and sausage version from my Midwest Living spread)
Taquitos (pumpkin chorizo and a bean and cheese version) with roasted tomatillo salsa
Mac and cheese cups (there would be a riot if I ever didn’t serve these!)
Turkey cranberry sliders with sage butter topping
Cucumber bites

Sweet
Salted caramel truffles
Cranberry hazelnut tartlets
Chocolate candy cane macarons
Eggnog macarons
Mini gingerbread cupcakes
Sugar cookie tree
Hot cocoa bar
As you can see above, I was a little bored of the usual red and green or blue and silver color schemes and decided to go multi-colored and bright this year.  I loved the happy color scheme, and so did Caroline as she spent time picking the sanding sugar off several of the sugar cookies :)  (Many did not survive to be hung on the cookie tree.)  As usual, I have to give a shout out to the fab ladies at The TomKat Studio for some fun food labels so the guests know what they are eating. Makes things so easy!

The only photo I have of things semi-set up is this Instagram.  It was a wonderful evening and as always, we are so grateful to all the friends and family who came to spend their evening with us.  We love you all so much!

*On the note of hectic schedules and calendars filling up, today’s holiday giveaway is for an awesome day planner from the Etsy sellers Ninj & Ninj.  Head on over to the giveaway page to learn more and enter!

  • Kendel Richards

    Where is the recipe for the salted caramel truffles!! :):)

  • Jessica L.

    my gosh, those little trees in the background!! they’re amazing…did you make or buy them? I love seeing a glimpse into your parties, they always look fabulous!

  • Diane

    Wow, you put me to shame if this is your simple!

  • annieseats

    Oh yes! I meant to talk about that a little and then totally forgot. I made them out of glittery card stock I bought. Cut them out with my paper cutter and then just used a Q-tip and some white paint to put the dots on them. It was a super quick project but made for a slightly different background than the usual banner, bunting, etc.

  • annieseats

    It’s not blog-ready yet. When it is, I will post it :)

  • http://www.bigbearswife.com/ Angie | Big Bear’s Wife

    Awww I do love those photos though! I bet seeing Santa was far better though! :) I totally hear ya on time! We did a cookie and milk party for my god-daughter’s birthday and I had no time until a few days before the party to start working on things!

  • http://www.quarterlifecrisiscuisine.com/ Ashley Bee

    Looks like an awesome party with tons of amazing food!

  • Mindy Pannell

    I would love to hear what you included in your hot chocolate bar…you always have such fun additons!

  • annieseats

    Hey Mindy! I linked to last year’s holiday party in the post here, and it has the details of how I set up the hot cocoa bar and what I included. I did the same set up this year and everyone loved it!

  • http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/ Joanne (eats well with others)

    I really need to start some sort of holiday party tradition with my friends. Maybe I’ll get my act together for Valentine’s Day! I love all the little bites you had. Everything being handheld is such a good idea.

  • Nancy

    That cookie tree is the cutest thing I have seen all season. You are talented!

  • Jamie

    Hi Annie,
    I was wondering how many mac and cheese cups you get out of 1 recipe for the mac and cheese. Also, how long did you bake the cups for? Have a great Christmas and thanks for all of the wonderful recipes!

  • http://www.brooklynfarmgirl.com/ Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl

    Your get together is so sweet (literally too) and fun. Great ideas!

  • annieseats

    I just make one full tray of macaroni and then put it in small jars or cups after baking. Much easier. The number will depend on the size of serving dish you use. Enjoy!

  • Debby Reichel

    Would love to know the recipe for eggnog truffles; anything with the word eggnog has got to be good!

  • Kelli Z

    these were amazing!

  • Mindy Pannell

    Annie, I keep meaning to swing over here to thank you for linking the cocoa bar. I had a sledding party for a gaggle of munchkins and it was an absolute hit with both the adults and kiddos! Thank you for helping me treat a special crowd to a holiday treat. :)