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Kick your holiday gathering up a notch with these unique ideas

By: Gina Cronin, Gina.Cronin@Gazette.com
December 5, 2016 Updated: December 5, 2016 at 11:12 am
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  1. Use a mini rosemary tree as a fragrant centerpiece. Place it in a festive red or gold pot and no other decoration is necessary.
  2. Arrange a craft table for kids. While the adults can enjoy their cocktails, kids can bond at a low table with cushions to sit on and plenty of holiday coloring books, crayons, markers, stickers and blank ornaments to decorate.
  3. If it’s not your main Christmas night dinner party, host an all-appetizer party. Who doesn’t love appetizers? Keep it interesting by introducing new appetizers through the night. Crostini, shrimp cocktail, stuffed mushrooms, flatbread pizza, stuffed meatballs, pigs-in-a-blanket and mozzarella sticks are just a few of the near-endless options you have to choose from.
  4. Set up a hot cocoa station. Guests will love dispensing the freshly made hot cocoa into a fun mug and adding goodies to the top. Have marshmallows, candy cane stirrers, cayenne powder, cinnamon powder, whipped cream, caramel syrup and chocolate syrup tastefully set-up at the station. You can also spike it with Frangelico, peppermint Schnapps or Kahlua, but be sure to keep these out of kid’s reach.
  5. Host a pancakes and pajamas holiday party. How often do you get to wear pajamas and eat pancakes with a bunch of friends and family? Invite your loved ones over for some maple syrupy goodness in the coziest fashion. Maybe even throw a holiday classic on the television for a surge of nostalgia.
  6. If you want to throw a large elegant parking, hire a valet company. You know how full street parking can be around the holidays, so eliminate this hassle by letting each and every guest get out right at your walkway.
  7. If you are on a budget, there is no shame in throwing a potluck holiday party. This gives your guests an opportunity to share their all-time favorite holiday dishes. It’s nice to taste each other’s cooking and send compliments all around. It’s a special way for all to share in the cheer.
  8. Prepare food ahead of time. This may not seem unique, but it is. Far too many hosts spend their entire party in the kitchen cooking. Have casseroles, lasagnas and any other dishes that can be prepped ahead ready to go in the oven before your guests arrive. Some items will need to be cooked during the party, but at least have the onions diced, veggies chopped and garlic minced beforehand.
  9. Have a global party by serving popular Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanza dishes from around the world. Distinguish each section by decorating with a flag or signature design style for each region. Have fun with Mexican, Italian, German, Thai and Moroccan themes, among others. Tell tales and stories from each culture to add some depth to the experience.
  10. Make it eco-friendly. Serve local, organic foods and drinks, and keep the party plastic-free by purchasing glass-bottled soda and alcohol. Use reusable dishes wherever possible, or purchase biodegradable or compostable dishes and silverware. Further, do not waste food! Send your guests home with left overs in a reusable or compostable container that they can enjoy ‘til New Year’s Eve!
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