December 5, 2021

2021 Holiday Recipe Round Up

Holiday recipe roundup and hosting tips for a gathering of up to 12 people, with vegetarian and vegan alternatives or suggestions.

MONIQUE SOURINHO - food photographer, stylist, recipe developer, and professional taste tester. Nothing fills my cup more than connecting with like-minded people (especially over a great meal). To learn more click here.

Holiday Recipe Round Up + Hosting Tips for Up To 12 People

It’s the holiday season! And you know what that means… don’t you?!

It means that I cannot resist a good holiday recipe round-up or a good reason to gather a group of my closest loved ones to host a party for. 

Now, before we get too deep into this post, I have to note: I’m talkin’ a one-day dinner event at, say, 4 or 5pm that lasts a few hours. Nothing crazy over here. If you need tips for something more extensive… you may need to head back to Google or Pinterest or wherever you came from, because your girl can only handle so much hosting at once. 

Also, this may or may not be my exact menu and guide for my family gathering anddd for the Ugly Sweater Party I’m having with friends…

I’m gonna kick things off with the Holiday Recipe Round Up—because, food of course —and thennn we’ll chat tips.


THE HOLIDAY RECIPE ROUND UP:

Fig Preserves & Baked Brie Puff Pastry

To make vegan, swap for a plant-based cheese wheel and brush with almond or oat milk instead.

Caramelized Onion & Carrot Soup ft. Copper Hill Farm

Fun fact: this soup actually already happens to be vegan, and is appreciated by both meat eaters and avoiders!

Apple, Pomegranate & Roasted Beet Salad with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

To make vegan, omit the goat cheese or use a plant-based alternative like this one

Sweet Potato & Prosciutto Au Gratin

Not a huge fan of sweet potatoes? Try the russet potato version. And for a creamy, vegan alternative, try these garlicky creamed spinach and peas

Honey Dijon Green Beans Almandine

To make vegan, swap the honey for maple syrup and use a plant-based butter in place of regular butter.

Brown Sugar & Mustard Glazed Ham Roast

Nora Cooks has a fun vegan alternative. You can make her glaze or prepare the brown sugar and mustard glaze. (I’d probably halve the recipe though.)

Mixed Fruit Pie with All Butter Crust

For a vegan alternative, opt for making a vegan crust, and use vegan butter in place of its dairy counterpart

Gingersnap & Mascarpone Mousse Pie

Or, for my vegan friends, For a vegan dessert option try my No-Bake Cashew Cream Fruit Tart


HOLIDAY GATHERING HOSTING TIPS

1. Ask if anyone has allergies. 

This is your top priority before doing anything else, because there’s nothing worse than planning an entire menu around a dish that someone can’t eat. (How awkward would that “oh, um, I’ll just eat the… bread?” conversation be?!)

2. Lists are your BFF. 

Make a grocery list to help keep track of what you already have, what you need, and everything in between. It’s best to make as few trips as possible because your time = your energy. And we all know how important it is to conserve energy during the holidays. 

 It also doesn’t hurt to make a to-do list, or timeline,  like this:

HOSTING TO-DO, DAY BEFORE:

  • Set table (I recommend locally-sourced ceramics!)
  • Stock up on beverages
  • Chill beverages
  • Set up a beverage station (so all you have to do is just add ice right before guests arrive!)
  • Clean day before guests arrive

COOK / PREPARE TO-DO, DAY BEFORE:

  • Soup
  • Ham
  • Glazed desserts
  • Green beans
  • Cheese platter (wrapped and sealed in cheese wraps; add meat just before guests arrive) 

MORNING OF:

  • Empty dishwasher
  • Take out the trash and recycling
  • Fill up multiple water carafes
  • Assemble puff pastry app

TWO HOURS BEFORE:

  • Roast the ham
  • Prepare the salad
  • Make the creamy sides

3. Snack Attack! 

It’s always a good idea to have a few snacks laid out. I prefer a small cheese board, roasted nuts, or baked brie, surrounded by accouterments. It allows guests to nibble while you’re finishing up the last bits of cooking without breaking up your flow in the kitchen.

It’s also less awkward that way, and gives them something delicious to occupy themselves while they mingle amongst each other. 

(Need ideas? Check out these cheese board tips or this snacking nut recipe!) 

4. Beverage etiquette matters. 

Always keep water pitchers full, and be mindful of guests who avoid alcohol for personal reasons (and make sure you have something else to offer them).

You can also ask your guests to BYOB, though, having more alcohol on hand than you may need is always a good idea. Nothing kills a party faster than running out of drinks (or food!). 

Have a station set up with ice, glasses, and bar accessories so guests can help themselves at their leisure instead of going around to fill everyone’s cup.

I’m not a wine expert by any means, but I love a light Pinot Grigio or pinot noir. They are typically lighter and pair well with a variety of foods. I opt for no added sulfites, as a more anti-inflammatory option. 

If you want to make things a bit more festive, make your own mulled wine! It triples as a beverage, a beverage station on its own, and a way to perfume the room! Win-win-win.

5. Set the mood with scents and sounds. 

Candles are a great idea, especially at a holiday gathering. They’re always so cozy and give off a welcoming vibe. (Just keep away from flammable things or in places that it could get knocked over.) 

I rely on Mizubrand candles—specifically their seasonal release of Spice Grove—to keep my home festive and inviting. 

Next, for the sounds: create a playlist or ask guests to pitch in their favorite songs (or hand off the task altogether). That way, everyone can jam and there’s less questions about who likes what.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

As much as we like to believe we can do it all (especially my fellow control freaks – hellooo!) everyone could use a little help now and then. 

Appoint a family member or BFF to help set up the bar, or help guests hang up their coats, or to help clean up. There are plenty of seemingly small tasks others can easily help with that will make your day go exponentially smoother. 

Or, if you’d rather, host a potluck instead! It takes the stress – and financial burden – off your shoulders and invites guests to show up with something they’re proud of. There’s no right or wrong answer. 

Generally, people like to help and feel a part of something. You know your group of friends and family best, so feel it out and decide what will work best for all of you. 

7. Give them something to remember.

(This one’s optional, of course.)

Send guests home with small gifts as a thank you for joining. For the holidays, I love making truffles or chocolate-dipped Oreos. Something small, but friendly, and certainly tasty!

8. RELAX!

While making sure your guests are enjoying the party is very important, it’s important to remember that you are also at the party and deserve to take part, too. 

If you’re huffing and puffing in your stressed-out mood all around the kitchen, everyone else will pick up on it, potentially making it an uncomfortable situation for your guests (and for you). 

Remember: there’s only so much you can control, and you already took care of everything you were able to. 

Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the company! (It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” after all!) 


I hope you have the best time cooking, baking, and hosting this holiday season! For more posts like this, scroll through my Kitchen Journal or follow along with me on Instagram here

Or, send this post to a friend you want to host a holiday party with! Cheers!