Who says the holiday season has to be all about the kids, all the time? We adore the children our lives but we think it's time for the adults to indulge in a grown-up party all their own. "Think sophistication for this party," says Jeanne Benedict, lifestyle expert and cookbook author. "I love the idea of decorating with glassware, it's such a great way to add a lift to the entire house." Now's the time to bring out your wedding china (no melamine Hello Kitty plates allowed!) crystal goblets and white linens. And leave the bar cart out and fully stocked.
To start, we like the idea of a sophisticated invitation, one that has a festive, cocktail party vibe to it. Be sure to gently ask guests to leave the kiddies at home and send your invites out with plenty of time for guests to plan for a babysitter if needed. Also, if you're planning for cocktails and desserts only (as we suggest here), let your guests know so they plan to have a bite to eat before hand.
When it comes to planning your menu, we suggest focusing on decadence! "Plan for your favorite desserts and dress them up with some holiday spirits," says Benedict. And by spirits she means a drizzle of amaretto, Bailey's Irish Cream or any of your other favorite liqueurs. "Spiking your desserts is so easy and fun. It's as simple as adding a little Bailey's Irish Cream or bourbon to a simple glaze made from powdered sugar to top off your brownies."
On her web site Benedict offers up a few spiked recipes including her Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake and a Manhattan Sour Cherry Cheesecake, inspired by the classic Manhattan cocktail. With such rich desserts, you may want to think about serving up bite-size pieces of your boozy delights. Benedict suggests tying your menu to your décor. "Slice up your desserts and serve them in martini glasses," she suggests. "It's such a chic way to invite everyone to taste a little bit of everything."
Another way to balance the variety of desserts is to set up smaller stations of holiday favorites. An all-cookie section is a must-have, but we also love the idea of a chocolate lovers' section, piled high with chocolate ganache, mousse and pudding. Lighten things up with a wintry spread of white confections such as white chocolate, Pfferneuse, mini vanilla cupcakes topped with white frosting and sugar-dusted cookies.
A champagne toast is a great way to complement your delicious desserts, as are delicious signature drinks, both with and without alcohol. To warm things up, Benedict suggests her recipe for Peppermint White Hot Chocolate. Other sure-fire hits? Peppermint martinis, hot buttered rum and eggnog.
When it comes to decorating, forget your worries about toddlers pulling down your Christmas tree or breaking fragile ornaments. Put your favorite collections on display, adding a little extra sparkle and holiday cheer. Think glass vases filled with vintage or new shiny colored ornaments, or jingle bells tied to ribbon hanging from a chandelier. "I like to use Snow in Seconds," suggests Benedict. "It's a wonderful product that once you add water to, you have a sparkly faux snow to sprinkle on your tabletop."
Another plus to your grown-up party? Candles! Without the worry of little ones burning themselves or knocking one over, feel free to set your favorite candles around your party space. It's one of the simplest ways to set a festive, sophisticated mood. "Just be sure to set your candles low so guests can talk over one another at the table," explains Benedict.