Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Deck Yourself in Bows and Holly Annual Party

My favorite room during the holidays
 I assume you have heard of "ugly sweater parties," the get together around the holidays where you are invited to wear your best, err umm, most tacky holiday sweater. For a couple years I had been hearing all about these parties and asking why haven't I been invited to one of these? This is right up my alley. Problem solved, I decided to host my own! Although I did make a little adjustment. Instead of just sweaters, I extended it to decking yourself out in whatever holiday related get up you could come up with. Hence, the Deck Yourself in Bows and Holly title. Through the years we have had ugly sweaters galore, reindeer, light up shirts, a present, an elf, a Christmas tree, carolers, and holiday turtlenecks to boot!
Before I knew my guests would work so hard on their costumes I did entice them with a contest. I announced on the invites there would be prizes for the top 3 best dressed. Little did they know the top 3 prizes were about to be re-gifted items that I didn't really have a place for in my house!!! Pictures of the winners and prizes are included in this post!

Back to planning this party. Every year before the holidays one of my dearest friends who lives out of town always plans a day for us to see each other over the holidays... in July! I do love her planning though.
During a summer phone conversation the idea of getting all our school friends together sparked the holiday party idea. So we set a date and I took care of the rest.

Again, I sent out Evites, easy and free! The guest list included my sisters, closest friends (the ones I have known since 6th-7th grade), and their family/significant others. Since this group tends to get a little crazy and it's rare that we are all able to get together. we decided that this would be an adult party.

Not all in costume, but this was a great group shot!
Holiday decorations were already in place....

please excuse the messy stairs :)

The menu consisted of an array of appetizers, desserts, and beverages. I did tell everyone if they wanted to add one of the above as a contribution it was welcome, but not necessary.

For appetizers I made a cheese fondue, cucumber rounds with Greek yogurt and hummus, phillo cups with mango chutney and blue cheese, and ham and cheese sliders. These are always a hit and my kids love them too. 
We also had shrimp cocktail and friends have brought stuffed jalapenos, cheese trays, and chocolate trifles. And honestly,  I just put out home made Christmas cookies and bought my desserts from Costco or relied on guests (I knew my sister would always bring her homemade fudge!) for dessert as I'm not much of a baker and I knew this group would not care about the kind of dessert served.

Ham and Cheese sliders
1 pack of Hawaiian whole wheat rolls
half a pound of muenster cheese or Swiss cheese
half a pound of deli ham sliced thinly
Dijon mustard
Cut the rolls in half and place in baking dish, add the Dijon mustard, cheese and ham. Brush melted butter on top of the rolls and bake in the oven at 350' for 8-10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve immediately. 

Drinks consisted of an array of red and white wine, a couple different beers, Jagger bombs (this groups favorite!), raspberry champagne spritzers (champagne, a splash of raspberry vodka, and fresh raspberries) and peppermint martinis.  I looked at a few different peppermint martinis but I chose this recipe because there are only 3 ingredients and it tastes great! I got this recipe from Phyllis Hoffman's Celebrate Christmas. I love this magazine for seasonal recipes, decor and party ideas. 

Peppermint Martinis
Makes 10 drinks
2 1/2 cups white chocolate liqueur
-I have only been able to find Godiva white liqueur which tastes great but retails for about $30 for one size.
1 1/4 cups peppermint schnapps
1 1/4 cups of vodka 
Garnish:corn syrup, crushed peppermint
Crush peppermint candies in a food processor or by hand if you use the small candy canes. Dip rim of glass in corn syrup then in crushed peppermints. 
In a martini shaker, combine 1 cup white chocolate liqueur, 1/2 cup of schnapps, 1/2 cup of vodka, and ice. Shake, and strain into martini glasses. Repeat twice with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Once everyone chatted, drank, and ate it was time for the best or most tackiest dressed contest! The first year I simply did a show of hands and quickly learned it was much easier to vote via secret ballet.

The crazy thing is that the same people were in the top 3 every year?!!!?

1st year winners! The red turtleneck with snowmen in the middle won 1st place and the boxed Santa, while the guy on the right won 2nd for his red/green attire, and the girl on the left was a reindeer and thrilled to win her 3rd place prize of Christmas towels!

 I did hear through the grapevine later on that the top winner was not thrilled with his prize after spending hours putting together his light up costume...
He is pretty creative

So after taking into consideration what a success the first party was and how much time some people put into their costumes I decided to upgrade the prizes to liquor and chocolate, with the exception of the Christmas towels! I knew how much my dear friend who helped create this party loved those towels!

Same winners, different places, different year.

This was amazing! 

You have no choice but to have fun with these girls!

Unfortunately we were not able to get together last year since we moved and schedules were busy. However, I know that we will be able to work out the logistics and continue this party one of these years!!! After all, the holidays are all about family, friends, and spreading cheer!

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