Holiday Party!

I've already gone to several holiday parties this season, phew!  The themes vary, or have supplemental agendas (housewarming, birthday...), but fewer weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas meant all of my weekends were filled with these things!  I was very excited for all of them, and decided that I like hosting, I love my place, and I wanted to have one too!  I wanted my theme to be girlie and involve the movie Love Actually <3  I sent out an email invite, and surprisingly, there was only one girl unable to attend.  With all of the holiday things going on, I was thrilled that I had such an overwhelming response!  I requested everyone bring drinks they enjoy.  I am not a huge drinker and always get worried I'm providing something people don't like.  But my friends are awesome and immediately replied with the food they would contribute (as well as promises of sparkling drinks in there).  It made my life so much easier, thank you all!
But of course, I had ideas of things I wanted to make.  This past week I got everything all ready, and only had a few things that needed to be done last minute right before the party.  I unwrapped a bunch of Hershey kisses (125 to be exact) and made bellybuttons!
I also tried out turtles- place a rolo on a mini pretzel, bake at 250 degrees for 4 minutes, then press a pecan half into the top.  They were killer.
And I made another batch of almond cookies sans chocolate chips.
And for something healthy, warm, and filling- I made butternut squash soup!
I baked caramel, sea salt brownies.  These weren't a win.  I've made better, but these were delicious and way simpler when Liz's mom made them!  She quickly told me the recipe, which involved store bought caramels, Ghirardelli brownies from a box, and sea salt right after they come out of the oven.  But I clearly heard her directions wrong, or remembered wrong, because the caramel was completely hard and impossible to bite when this was done.  So don't make these yet!  I'll figure out what I did wrong and post about them later, haha.
The day of the party I made caprese skewers!  These are exactly what they look like- a cherry tomato halved and placed on a toothpick with a little ball of mozzarella between.  Then spread pesto over the top of them when complete!  Simple and delicious.
Ready to serve in the kitchen!
And the living room!
Becky made chocolate covered pears and strawberries, Liz brought charcuterie, cheese, and crackers.
Thank you Tiffany for the chalkboard globe!!  I admired this on your blog when you showed it years ago, and I can't believe you decided you no longer needed it.  It was an adorable addition to my party, and I had Becky decorate it before everyone showed up :-)  Along the side not pictured is a holly wreath with a big ribbon!
And everyone went home with a jar full of bellybuttons and Hershey kisses.  There was room at the top to add any extras from the party they could fit.  Some almond cookies and turtles were claimed as people left :-)
Unfortunately not pictured are the delicious glazed meatballs Ashley brought in a crockpot, the veggie tray Kim and Alessa brought, or the cardamom pear crumble Ingrid brought with the accompanying vanilla ice cream that Michal brought.  But what is pictured?  The 7 bottles of bubbly (Asti and Champagne) that Kim, Alessa, and Ingrid contributed!
I soaked cranberries in simple syrup for an hour to make them sticky, then placed two on a toothpick and rolled them in sugar to make some candied sparkling cranberries for garnish.
Check out all these bottles!  I'm pouring our first taste of the night, it ended up being my favorite bottle!
My amazing wine glasses on top of my grandparents 40th anniversary wedding gift- a silver tray engraved with the date of July 28th, 1985.  When my grandpa moved down to NC to live with my Aunt and Uncle, he really didn't want to take much with him and wanted his kids and grandkids to take anything that meant something to them.  My mom came back home after helping him move and gave me this tray.  She said she remembered carrying me, a little 1-month old, around with her at the mall while shopping for this and getting it engraved.  She said I might not have a memory of it, but she always thought of me when she saw it at their house.  So I totally love this tray and display it in my apartment, and was so happy to have it go to use tonight!
Not pictured- Ingrid in the kitchen baking up her amazing pear crumble and making my apartment smell amazing.

Now everyone grab a glass!  And toast to wonderful friends and a wonderful holiday season!
I put my garnish in my drink and enjoyed a tart treat at the end.  And we got through 4 of the bottles, which I think is a very good night :-)  Thanks everyone for coming, I had an amazing time and was so glad to host!

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