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Easy Holiday Party Ideas

Yippee! Party season is upon us from Halloween to New Year’s Day. Want to have the best party? I do. I got out my planner and sat down with a fellow Household 6, my friend Tiffany. We talked about food, drinks, and decorations. She gave me a sneak peak at a couple of recipes from The Drinking Girls Guide to Casual Entertaining (the cookbook will be out in the spring of 2013), so keep reading to get these recipes, too.

I like having parties around the holidays. The house is already festive, so there isn’t much to do when it comes to decorating.

Here are ideas for decor and food:

Create a centerpiece

I asked Tiffany for a decorating tip. She suggests having a fantastic centerpiece on the table.

Here is what you need:

  • Box
  • Tree skirt
  • Battery operated strand of lights
  • Wine glasses
  • Floating tea light candles
  • Small decorative rocks
  • Large glass container
  • Ornaments
  • Greenery such as pine boughs or holly sprigs

Put a tablecloth on your table. Fill the box with books and place it in the center of your table, then drape your tree skirt over the box. Take the strand of lights and ornaments and place them in a glass container. Set the container on the box and place the greenery around the container. To finish up, put decorative rocks in the wine glasses with water and a candle. Place the glasses around the centerpiece on the table. Voila! You have a great centerpiece.

Keep some things simple.

I’ll make a few special dishes but also offer cheeses, fruit, and veggies. I like to keep the food simple so that I’m not cooking right up until guests arrive.

Before I make my shopping list I need to decide on drinks. Tiffany gave me her recipe for mulled wine. This beverage does double duty. Tiffany says to put the ingredients in a slow cooker on low in the morning, letting it heat up all day. Come party time, the house will smell festive!

Mulled Wine

You will need:

  • 1 Bottle of your favorite red wine
  • 1 ½ cup brandy
  • ½ gallon apple cider
  • 1 Tbs clover
  • 1 Tbs all spice
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 ½ inch slices of peeled ginger
  • Zest of one orange
  • Whole cranberries

Pour ½ cup brandy over whole cranberries and let sit overnight. Pour wine, brandy, and apple cider in crock pot. Put rest of ingredients in cheese cloth and add to liquid. Cook on low all day. Before serving, remove spices and add brandy soaked cranberries.

I also provide soda, water and some beer.

Margarita Cheesecakes with Salted Pretzel Crusts

Here’s what you need.

  • 1 ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 heaping cup of Cool Whip™, thawed
  • ¾ cup sugared lime zest, reserve ¼ cup for garnish (see recipe below)
  • 4 tbsp Margarita Mix
  • 4 tsp Tequila Gold (we like Jose Cuervo Especial™)
  • 1 tsp Cointraeu™
  • 12 paper muffin cups, placed in a muffin pan

Using a hand mixer, combine ½ cup of the sugared lime zest with cream cheese until well mixed. Mix your “mini margarita,” and pour it into the cream cheese mixture and use the hand mixer again. Then fold in the Cool Whip™ until well mixed. Scoop 2 heaping tbsp of cheesecake mixture on top of the salted crusts (see recipe below). Cover the muffin pan with foil and stick it in the freezer for at least three hours. These can keep in the freezer for about two or three weeks. When ready to serve, remove the paper cups and let thaw for about five minutes, then serve. Garnish with the reserved sugared lime zest.

For the Salted Pretzel Crusts:

Courtesy of

  • ½ cup pretzel crumbs
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tsp sugar

Pulse salted pretzels in a mini chopper or food processor until you have a ½ cup of pretzel crumbs. Combine pretzel crumbs with melted butter and sugar until it well blended. Put 2 tbsp of the crumb mixture into each paper cup, and press down flat with your fingers until it is all level. Now you’re ready to fill them, no baking needed.

Making the Sugared Lime Zest:

  • Zest of 6 limes
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt

In your mini chopper or food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until all the zest is evenly distributed throughout the sugar and it begins to take on an almost fluffy appearance. This will keep in a plastic container for a couple of days.

Here’s a tip: Sugared lime zest also tastes great over tropical fruit and on the rim of your glass for your sweet cocktails.

Bacon-Wrapped Bourbon Balls

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 8 oz. cans of whole water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 16 oz. package of sliced bacon, cut in half (we like Oscar Meyer Center Cut)
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 shots of honey bourbon (we like Wild Turkey American Honey)

Preheat oven to 400. Take a water chestnut and wrap it tightly with a half slice of bacon, hold it in place with a toothpick, and place in a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, and bourbon. Pour over wrapped chestnuts. Gently stir until all are completely covered. Bake for 35-40 minutes.




1 Comment

  1. The Drinking Girls Guide

    Thanks for featuring our recipes. I hope everyone enjoys them. Stop on over to our website or Facebook page for more. Thanks again Kowanda.. Cheers, The Drinkiing Girls Tiffani and Ashleigh.


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