November 12, 2018
When you talk about the holidays and cooking, most immediately think of those long hours spent in the kitchen whipping up family-sized meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But what about cooking for all those other occasions? If you’ve ever hosted a holiday party, birthday or other big gathering, you’re likely familiar with the laborious effort of putting together the perfect array of charcuterie plates, cheese boards, deli trays, dessert trays and other appetizers.
You could spend time putting together all these beautiful arrangements, and we’ve got the perfect tips to help you. But don’t forget, you can also give your local Calgary Co-op a call and have the bakery or deli departments put together a time saving tray for you!
Making Holiday Platters: Variety Makes Everyone Happy
Often, the mood of a party is set by the food. Not enough, people leave early because they’re hungry, or, worse, they drink a little too much champagne, don’t have enough snacks to soak it up and you can guess what happens from there.
Not enough variety and your guests end up fighting over the one favourite, while the rest of your spread is left to sit sadly on the table. The key to setting a great party feast is to have a nice variety of items everyone can enjoy.
Make Sure to Have Enough for Each Guest
Planning a party can be fraught with decisions. How much food should you get? How much is enough per person? As a general rule, plan to have a selection of fruits, vegetables, starches, proteins, warm foods and sweets. When it comes to having enough food, plan for 15 hors d’oeuvre servings per guest for bite-size items, and 1/2 cup each of fruit and vegetables per guest.
Have Healthy Options on Hand
Veggie and fruit trays are the party go-to for those watching their diets, and they’re a must if there’s vegan or vegetarian friends in your crowd. Don’t disappoint your party guests with another sad selection of baby carrots and soggy strawberries.
Put together a fruit selection of your own creation using seasonal organic fruits, sliced ahead of time, but preferably assembled no earlier than 10-15 minutes before your guests arrive. Buy your fruit the day-of to ensure freshness. For a fun look, you can arrange your fruit in a rainbow style too.
As for the veggies, you want to follow the same general rules when it comes to your timeline of buying, slicing and arranging. Holiday parties are a great opportunity to break out your creative eye and arrange the veggies in cutesy Christmas trees (think edamame, green bell pepper strips and broccoli for the greenery, cherry tomatoes for the ornaments). Of course all that chopping, cleaning and arranging can take time, and no one seems to have the right size platters to lay it out so it looks nice. Once again, this is where your local Co-op can help. Save yourself the work, and call in your order or order online a few days ahead of time, then instead of shopping for all that fruit and produce, just breeze in and pick up your ready-made tray.
The carnivores of your party will flock to the charcuterie board or cheese trays. While they can be a little intimidating to the first-time host, they’re quite the hit and not as difficult to make up as they look.
A great cheese board has lots of variety; some hard cheeses, soft cheeses like Brie, sharp cheeses like Gruyere or Blue, plus mild options like a nice creamy Havarti.
You’ll also want to label each cheese appropriately (a fun chance to try your hand at some calligraphy!). For the accompaniments, try some freshly toasted baguette slices, gourmet crackers, whole grain mustard, prosciutto, chorizo and olives. Don’t forget to allow your cheeses to reach room temperature before serving.
Don’t Forget the Sweet Stuff
A beautiful array of holiday cookies are always a seasonal hit, but taking all the time to bake them can eat up days; not to mention leave you with a big grocery bill.
Consider a Co-op bakery tray with cookies, squares, or pastries, or order a delicious cake. You can even get beautifully decadent Black Tie strawberries.
Making It Easy with Overnight Guests: Breakfast Trays & Gourmet Coffee
One last thought; if you have guests coming to stay, it can be a chore to get up and make a big breakfast for everyone. Plus there’s all the cleanup. Co-op can help by whipping up a breakfast tray featuring bagels, croissants and more. Then everyone can help themselves.
Don’t forget to pick up one of the new local coffees from Big Mountain, Calgary Heritage Roasters, Phil & Sebastian or Cappuccino King, or choose one of the Calgary Co-operative Coffees.
Sure, you can handle all the holidays throw at you, but don’t forget that Calgary Co-op is also here to help!
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