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I really enjoy throwing holiday parties; currently I’m in the midst of planning a Make and Take party for my son’s kindergarten class. Many people find throwing holiday parties stressful, but I generally follow a simple plan to make cooking, set up, and clean up as easy as possible. I want to maximize my time with guests, and not spend the entire party dreading cleanup. Here’s my collection of easy holiday entertaining tips, and my favorite recipe for a seasonal sweet and spicy chili.
When planning a party unless I’m doing a potluck type dinner, I generally make a main dish that is easy to prepare in bulk and can be reheated. Last January, my son had a Mario & Luigi spaghetti and meatballs birthday party. The meatballs and homemade spaghetti sauce were made several days ahead of time, and reheated the day of the party. Winter parties are easy because you can offer dishes such as soup, stew, or chili; They’re filling and can be made in large quantities using a stock pot.
While shopping I picked up lots of topping options for my Coca-Cola Chili. This allows my guests to personalize their meal. I purchased sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, tortilla strips, and onion straws (they’re my favorite topping for chili).
Here is my standard recipe for Coca-Cola Chili. The recipe can be doubled or tripled to serve at parties.
- 1 lb browned crumbled lean ground beef
- 1 diced onion, cooked with the beef
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 12 oz bottle Coke de Mexico Coca-Cola (made with real cane sugar)
- 1 15 oz can drained/rinsed kidney beans
- 1 15 oz can drained/rinsed great northern beans
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Brown lean hamburger meat with diced onion until cooked through.
- Drain excess fat
- Add both cans of beans, seasonings, tomatoes, and Coca-Cola to the meat in a large pot.
- Simmer covered for 45 mins to 1 hour over medium-low heat.
- Add small amounts of water if desired
You could also try my Cherry Coke Pork with Lime to serve a large crowd.
I added a plate of fresh veggies, chips, and several desserts to complete my party meal. I’ve found that a pre-made veggie tray is easy, but it’s often less expensive to make my own. I picked up club-size packages of seedless cucumbers, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes. I sliced the cucumbers, and just added them to a tray with the tomatoes and carrots.
While shopping at a Sam’s Club I saw an inexpensive Brownie Trio tray in the baked goods section. They were so pretty plated on a plain cake plate, and everyone bragged about how tasty they were.
I baked two additional desserts ahead of time which included a Coca-Cola glazed Brown Sugar Cake, and Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. I made both of desserts the night before and stored in them in airtight containers. I’ll have both of those recipes on the blog later this week and share the links in this post.
If you don’t have a lot of time to cook, I suggest heading to your local Sam’s Club. They have a large selection of party ready foods including party trays, entrees, and desserts. They’re the only place locally that carries the Coke de Mexico Coca-Cola. Sam’s Club has a special offer on 4 packs Coke and Diet Coke 2-liters during the holiday season for the low price of $3.98.
I’m partial to the flavor of Coke de Mexico Coca-Cola. I love the feel and look of the glass bottles, but they’re also a pleasant reminder of my past. While my ex-husband was stationed in Bogota, Colombia with the Army, I became accustomed to drinking Coca-Cola made with real cane sugar and out of a bottle. It was one of a handful of items I could get that were similar to items I was accustomed to eating/drinking stateside. A delivery man (on a motorcycle) would drop off a case of bottles to our apartment every week. The flavor is subtly different, and absolutely delicious. I was so excited to find the cases of glass bottles at our Sam’s Club.
The bottles of Coke de Mexico Coca-Cola can also serve as a place holders at your dinner table. I have found an assortment of small chalkboard signs in dollar bins at various stores. Twine or string can be attached using hot glue to create a unique and fun placeholder. The bottle of Coke de Mexico can be drank or taken home by your guest to drink later as a party favor. The chalkboard signs can be easily hung around the bottles.
Here are my last few easy holiday entertaining tips:
- Chalkboard signs in various shapes can easily be reused, and makes it easy to label dishes, create place settings, or even greet guests.
- Purchase bulk plain white place settings that can be easily replaced if chipped or cracked.
- For an elegant and professional look, stock up on plain white serving bowls and trays. They can be used interchangeably.
- Pull decorations from around your home instead of purchasing party specific decor. Pairs of lanterns, miniature trees, and matched vases make great seasonal and party decor.
Do you plan on throwing any holiday parties? What do you do to make hosting a party easier? I suggest heading to your local Sam’s Club to check out all of the items available for purchase that make hosting a party less stressful, and check out the Coke de Mexico Coca-Cola.