Bring on the holiday cheer, Christmas time is almost here! During the winter months I spend many merry hours in the kitchen cooking up warm and cozy recipes. This is our baby girl Scout’s first Christmas, hooray! As our little family grows, we look forward to starting our own traditions and making this time of year special for the kids.
A Foodie's Holiday Hosting Guide
Have a Signature Dish - I've served my famous candied yam for dinner parties and I have to say, it's quite a crowd pleaser! I use real butter, brown sugar, vanilla, a pinch of salt and of course yams. I let my yams cook in the crock pot with water until they are super soft and ready to mash. I peel the skins off the yams and mash then with softened butter. I mix in the brown sugar and vanilla to taste, put them into a glass baking dish and add either walnuts or pecans on top. I bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, checking to make sure all the butter and sugar has baked together. Serve alongside classic favorites such as green bean casserole, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Yum!
Use Fresh Ingredients - The holidays are the perfect opportunity to put your best foot forward and show your guests what you're culinary skills are made of. Incorporating fresh herbs and spices can make all the difference in the quality of your cooking. And let's be honest, it makes you feel fancy. Bonus points if they come fresh from your garden!
Set the Tone with Music and Decor - We just bought our first house and I've been at the thrift shops searching for cool vintage Christmas decor and ornaments. I can't wait to get a big Christmas tree, play my favorite holiday tunes, drink eggnog and decorate.
Indulge all the Senses - The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, more so than any of our other senses. The olfactory function helps evoke special memories. For me the smell of scented pine cones brings on that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling. I picked some up at Whole Foods and have them sitting in a bowl in our entry way. That way you can experience the scent right when you walk in the house.
Play Games - We are big fans of the show Friends and we have so much fun playing the trivia game. Even though we think we know everything about the show, there are some questions that will really stump us!
Add Cultural Touches - My boyfriend's mom makes tamales and they're SO GOOD. I love adding authentic Mexican touches to our American holidays, our kids will have a mixed heritage and it's fun to celebrate the best of both worlds.
Be Sure to Capture the Moment - Don't get lost in the day and forget to document it. Be sure to take photos, especially candids. I love looking back in old albums at photos of family and friends. While everyone is chilling out and waiting for the food to be ready, bust out the albums and take a walk down memory lane.
Include Fido in the Festivities - Our dogs are considered part of the family and we love sharing the holidays with them. The doggies get their own Christmas stockings, presents under the tree and a special Christmas dinner too. They especiallly love being with the family when we're all together.
Don't Skimp on the Pie - One of my all-time favorite desserts is pie and the holidays is the perfect excuse to indulge. Of course you gotta have pumpkin pie but you can also mix it up with a surprise second pie. Get something unexpected like key-lime or banana cream pie!
Decorate the House - Be sure to fill your decks and halls with boughs of holly! See some of my favorite hand crafted home decor items from Etsy below. Click photos to shop!
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