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27 December 2011

Hosting a Fabulous New Year's Eve Party

It’s holiday time and it is a fact that during this period, surrounding the shortest day of the year, our creed has stubbornly held onto what we see as our historic right to party our brains out.

As we all know, partying reduces stress levels, improves dance moves and provides you with a fabulous excuse to get your flirt on! If however, you are struggling in these economically challenged times, why not host your own party on a shoestring!

Recipes and Tips: 

There's no better time of year to host a party. Your house is already decorated and everybody is predisposed to be full of festive cheer!

  1. E-invites:  For Apple users, the Hi-Cards app emails out snappily-designed invites for you. Or why not give your friends a giggle by turning yourself and your family members into Dancing Elves?! (Just add the link to your email invite!) 

  2. Drinks or Dinner:  If you decide to go the whole hog (or turkey, goose, whatever floats your sleigh) and do the sit-down dinner thing, instead of the rather onerous undertaking of feeding all of your loved ones, make it crystal clear that you are hosting a “pot-luck” dinner. It may be prudent to explain to them what this 70s throw-back is all about and you will also need to figure out who will bring what dish so you don’t end up with five desserts and no stuffing.

    Personally I prefer the drinks party option (no snickering in the back please). Snacks are a good idea to prevent your guests from getting too blotto! Remember in both instances you will also have to clearly inscribe the letters B.Y.O.B. on the invitation so people will know to bring their own Booze, Bottle, or if you’re lucky, a 5l Box of wine. 

  3. Please don't stop the music! A playlist could make or break your party so it better be a good one! Check out’s playlists for all sorts of different occasions, they’ve done all the hard work for you! It organizes your existing music database into the precompiled playlist and also gives you the option to buy the songs from iTunes. 

  4. Drink. Mulled Wine/ Vin Chaud/ Glühwein/ Glögg... Wherever you go to in the World, this spiced hot wine concoction is offered at holiday time and so it should be. As soon as the spices are added to the heated red wine the aromas of cinnamon, spice and all things nice fill your home with festive spirit AND you don't have to use a high quality expensive red wine either! Here’s my foolproof recipe:

    Mulled Wine Recipe
    • 1 bottle red wine 
    • 60g/2oz brown sugar 
    • 1 cinnamon stick 
    • grated nutmeg 
    • 1 orange, quartered 
    • 1 bay leaf 60ml/2 fl oz sloe or damson gin (optional but highly recommended)
    Chuck it all in a pan (except the gin) and heat slowly,until the sugar is dissolved. You can add more sugar of necessary. Add the gin just before serving. Serve while it's hot.

    Egg nog - I love it! Love it or hate it, nothing quite says “it's holidays!” like it. I stole this recipe from a friend who is an ultra-domestic goddess. It's foolproof, try it!

    Eggnog Recipe
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence
    • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 2 1/3 cups milk
    Blend together and add brandy to taste. Serve chilled. 

  5. Eat. When it comes to food, there are loads of dishes that can be made inexpensively. For savoury treats you can try toasted nuts, roasted parsnip crisps, and tuna dip or homemade salsa with toasted triangles pitta bread. Pizza cut into squares is always a party-pleaser (homemade’s best, but frozen works too - just don’t forget to hide the box!). For pudding, plates of Christmas sugar cookies and shortbread can be made inexpensively, as can a seasonal fruit platter.

    Union Square Nuts
    • 2 1/4 cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts
    • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
    Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter. Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm. And once you eat these, you will never want to stop.

    Homemade Salsa
    • 1/2 red onion , chopped fine
    • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
    • 1 small tin of whole canned tomatoes
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 lime
    • 2 seeded jalapenos , chopped (reserve seeds if desired for increasing heat) cayenne pepper (optional)
    Blend all the above ingredients except for the onion. Then stir in the chopped onion by hand. That's it!!

    Auntie Jean’s Famous Shortbread Recipe
    • 115g granulated sugar
    • 225g butter
    • 225g all-purpose flour
    • 115g corn starch
    Baking Dish: 28x19cm Oven: 175 degrees C. Time: 25 – 30 minutes
    Beat butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in sugar. Combine the flours, then add gradually to the creamed butter. Once added, pack down into the baking dish, levelling off with a flat spatula. Once smooth, use damp fork to prick across the top. Place in centre of oven and remove when beginning to turn golden brown at the edges. Place on cooling rack. Sprinkle with sugar. When cooled use a sharp knife to cut into squares. 
Cheers and Happy New Year!


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