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Here’s how to throw a holiday dinner party your guests will never forget

Michelle Martin
for Busch's Fresh Food Market
‘Tis the season for celebrating with family and friends.

’Tis the season for celebrating with family and friends — and there’s no better way to spread holiday cheer than by hosting a dinner party. Think you don’t have time to plan something? Think again. Even the busiest hosts can throw a memorable holiday dinner party without spending hours on planning and shopping.

Here’s a six-step guide to hosting the ultimate dinner party that’s both simple and classy — a festive event you can put together in just a matter of hours.

For an elegant touch, add poinsettias to your decor.

Step 1: The details are in the decor

Dinner parties are meant to be classy, intimate affairs — and that begins with your decor.

No matter how large or small your dinner party, remember to keep things simple. An elegant table setting can go a long way. And so can simple decorative touches such as garland and candles.

Start with a crisp white or festive red or green tablecloth. Think of it as your canvas or base — it’s something to build upon. Then bring in other colors or decorations — metallic chargers or candles, for instance — that help tie everything together. And don’t forget about including a few poinsettias, available at your local Busch’s Fresh Food Market. For an organic touch, add a few sprigs of holiday greenery — festive wreaths or pine cones that can dress up the dining room table or serving area.

Step 2: Light up the night

You don’t need to spend a lot of money — or time — on lighting. The most festive dinner parties rely on candles and other lighting you already have in your home.

To start, take a look at your existing lighting. Do you have a dimmer? If so, use your dimmer on a brighter hue to begin your dinner party and turn down the lighting as the evening progresses. Later in the night, rely on candles and plug-in night lights to maintain a soft glow. Also, consider using rope lighting or even traditional holiday lights along serving tables to add ambiance.

Step 3: Start with a signature cocktail

The most fun, festive holiday dinner parties begin with a signature cocktail — something unique that you can offer your guests as they walk into your home. For the holidays, consider pouring cocktails that involve egg nog, peppermint or cranberry. Guernsey Egg Nog is a great choice.

For dinner, be sure to have a variety of white and red wines. Start with a sparkling wine such as Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne while guests are enjoying hors d’oeuvres — this helps to stimulate the appetite. Begin the first course with a white wine such as Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling, then pour Elouan Pinot Noir or Deboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau. For dessert, choose a sweet wine such as a port — it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with sweets.

And, of course, be sure to have options for guests who don’t drink wine. Craft beers pair equally well with different foods — be sure to pick a few that accompany your menu. A great choice is Bell’s Christmas Ale.

Let the main course shine as the star of your dinner table.

Step 4: Get ready for the main course

When choosing a menu for your holiday dinner party, choose a variety of seasonal selections that celebrate the time of the year. Start with a variety of appetizers such as a cheese plate, baked brie topped with warm cranberry, artichoke dip served with crostini, bacon-wrapped dates or shrimp with cocktail sauce.

Start dinner with a seasonally inspired butternut squash soup or mixed greens with an orange-pomegranate dressing. Then it’s time for the main course. Consider a standing rib roast or pork loin roast, and serve it with fresh seasonal favorites such as root vegetables, beets and, of course, mashed potatoes.

Step 5: End dinner sweetly

End dinner on a favorable note with a holiday-inspired dessert such as maple-glazed pears, sticky toffee pudding or a classic gingerbread cake served with vanilla ice cream.  

Step 6: Wrap up the night with a gift

When the evening is over, be sure to thank your guests for celebrating with you. Send them off with a small bottle of wine or box of candy with a simple card that says “happy holidays.” Gourmet cookies and pies are another great idea, and if you don’t feel like baking, there are plenty of options to choose from at Busch’s Fresh Food Market.

Other options include homemade chocolate chip cookies wrapped in festive holiday packaging, or handmade holiday ornaments. Your guests will remember your holiday party on a sweet note long after it ends.

Looking for more holiday party ideas? Visit buschs.com for holiday meals and recipes, or stop by your local Busch’s Fresh Food Market.

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