Hot Holiday Party Trends Easy on the Wallet in 2011

With the country’s unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent, it’s no surprise that most people are looking for ways to save; and holiday party plans are no exception. Well, for all of you trendy party planners out there, the good news is “less is more” in 2011.

To start, corporations and individuals alike are opting for a lighter choice when choosing a menu for holiday events. Choosing to host a holiday brunch or cocktail party with succulent desserts are two ways to shave some dollars off the ‘ol bill without sacrificing great food options and taste. Throw a twist of creativity in there and your guests will be ranting and raving … never realizing their host was budget conscience!

Cookie and milk shot stations and “Fa la la la latte” and dessert carts are just two examples of how to have a little fun with your food (and drink in this case). Instead of traditional appetizers, offer “appetizer-type” bites and sweets. In fact, French food is a hot item this year. Macaroon towers, mini dessert pastries and crème brulee are oh so magnifique.

And because desserts are especially popular around this time of year anyway, don’t be afraid to go a little bonkers with your ideas. Why not take a couple of your favorites and mash them together for what you might call a “double dessert”. Pie flavored shakes and cookies are all the rage this holiday season. Turn the traditional pumpkin pie into a cookie for instance or really go nuts and offer a “pecan pie” cupcake. For the over 21 crowd, booze filled delights are always a favorite and 2011 is no exception. Festive ideas include dark chocolate wreaths filled with Jamaican rum, eggnog cake spiked with rum, bourbon pumpkin cheese cake and pecan bourbon pie, just to name a few.

Speaking of pies, foodie trend-setters are opting for these old fashioned staples in a big way this year, especially the itty-bitty variety. Assorted, bite-sized flavors are a wonderful idea for a holiday party. Not only are they easy on the budget, they are a little easier on the waistline too (unless of course you ea­­t the whole lot). Besides the pecan and pumpkin variety, try sweet potato, apple, caramel apple and salted caramel to mix it up a bit and add a tad of holiday flare.

Feel like going global? So do a lot of other people, so you’re not alone! 2011 seems to be the year to show off your knowledge of international cuisine. Some great ideas for your hip “round the world” party are empanadas, mini falafel pitas and Indian spiced vegetable fritters.

One of our favorite trends of the year is hors d’ oeuvres and desserts on a stick. That’s right, it’s not just for jalepenos and corn dogs anymore. Cake pops on a stick, pigs in a blanket on a stick, deep fried raviolis on a stick … you get the idea. Make your favorite and don’t be afraid to impale it … your guests will love it.

And last but not least, top off your 2011 holiday party with a signature drink. It can be anything you want, but be sure to give it your own personal name. Something memorable and fun and your friends will be talking about it for years to come … cheers!

Here’s a cute recipe we recently came across … enjoy!

Image*S’more Tarts*
7 whole graham crackers finely crushed
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
6tbls melted butter (unsalted)
4 bars of Milk Chocolate Candy-divided
12 large marshmallows
1-preheat oven to 350F.  Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag.  Finely crush into crumbs.  Combine graham crackers crumbs, powder sugar and butter in batter bowl. using a small scoop, place a small scoop of crumb mixture in each cup of Mini-Muffin pan.  Press crumbs to form shallow cups with a tart shaper (spoon can b e used instead).  Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling.  Meanwhile, break two of candy bars into rectangles.  Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.
2-Cut Marshmallows in half crosswise professional shears dipped in cold water.  Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup.  Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are just lightly softened.  Remove pan from oven to cooling rach; cool 15 minutes.  Carefully remove cups from pan, cool completely.
3-break remaining candy bars and place in microwavable bowl.  Microwave on high 1-1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds.  Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate, turn top-side up and let stand 40minutes to 1 hour or until set.
Start with about 3tbls of butter melted and mix into the Graham Cracker crumbs
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