Christmas Party Review 2005

We host a Christmas party each year, and every year, I forget what was a hit food wise and what wasn’t.  This is a run down of what we had to eat, what we should not have had to eat, and what we might want to add next year.

  • TABLE ONE – The Main Food Table
    • Sliced Roast Beef in Gravy (Misci Catering) in chafing dish
      • Definitely a hit.  We ordered two half pans of it, and went through the whole first pan.  I didn’t put the second pan out because it was late in the day.  We had 20 no-shows at the party, and if they had shown up, the second pan would definitely have been needed.  Unfortunately, I put the second pan in the oven to keep warm, and meant to put it in the freezer after the party.  I shut the oven off, but left the pan of roast beef in the oven overnight.  Now my mouth is watering for a hot roast beef sandwich.
    • Spiral Sliced Ham From Aunt Barbara
      • The ham was delicious, a wonderful surprise, and a beautiful addition to the buffet.  I could have done it much more justice had I displayed it better, but I ended up using the other half of the chafing dish to just sit the ham in.  It didn’t get as much attention as it deserved – although quite a bit of it got eaten.  I think putting it on the chafing dish expedited the drying out process.  Now my mouth is watering for a ham sandwich.  The glaze was SOOOO good.
    • Crockpot Meatballs (our crockpot) in Gravy
      • The meatballs are always a big hit.  This year, I seemed to have more leftover than usual, but less than half of the crockpot was full.  One thing I did differently this year was separate the meatballs and the sausage into two separate crockpots.  The sausage usually adds to the flavor of the meatballs, and I like the way that tastes together.  I separated them this year for two reasons.  The first reason was I didn’t want anyone who didn’t like sausage or didn’t eat sausage for religious reasons to have to worry about it, and the second reason was that I filled the crockpot with meatballs and didn’t have room for the sausage.  Next year, I think I’ll put the sausage and meatballs together, and keep a few meatballs aside to offer to guests that can’t or don’t eat sausage.  I also might make a point to make sure there is no pork in the meatballs.  I don’t think there is in the ones I bought, but I didn’t check, either.
    • Crockpot (borrowed Mommy’s) Sausage in Gravy
      • I mixed hot and sweet Italian sausage, and it was oh so good.  We ended up with two soup containers of sausage leftover.  Not much to add to this, but again, I will mix them with the meatballs next year. 
    • Crockpot (our crockpot) Kielbasa and Sauerkraut
      • This was the biggest hit.  We had almost no kielbasa leftover.  We got the kielbasa from the Polish Deli in Runnemede, and it was delicious.  I didn’t get to save any from the crockpot, as we were at the bare bones.  Fortunately, I have a little left over in the fridge.  Had those extra 20 shown up, we might have run out of this.  It was smoked kielbasa with light garlic (they have a variety of flavors there, and this was the one my Polish stepfather recommended). 
        • Little note on the crockpots.  I could barely reach them on the table, and I don’t know what to do with the lids.  I have to figure out something better for the next party.
    • Potato Salad (Misci Catering)
      • Pat from Misci split this into two trays so we could put out one at a time – which she did with all the trays.  The tray on the table had only a spoonful of stuff left in it, the other tray was untouched.  Again, had those 20 people come, we would have used the extra tray.  The salad is not as good as the homemade with the bacon and egg in it, but it is a pretty good potato salad.  Next year, I’ll try to make it myself.  If time doesn’t allow, it’s definitely better than supermarket potato salad.
    • Pasta Salad (Misci Catering)
      • I threw away almost a whole tray that was on the table, and still have a whole pan in the fridge.  The salad is good, I just don’t think pasta salad is too popular with people.  It definitely did not add anything to the buffet, and the space it took up would have been better used on something else.
    • Tuna Tarragon Salad (I made from internet recipe)
      • In a word AWFUL.  I love this salad at Sweet Tomatoes in Florida, and tried to find the recipe on the internet.  What I found out was that they don’t give out their recipes.  Well, another woman who LOVES this salad, decided to try to make it on her own, and this was her recipe.  It was no where near the Sweet Tomatoes version and although a few spoonfuls were taken out of the salad, it was nasty.
    • Tossed Salad (Misci Catering)
      • A good salad, plenty of vegetables, good dressing – I had two big helpings of it.  Despite that, it was overshadowed on the buffet by the other foods.  We threw away almost a full tray of what was on the table, and I still have a whole tray in the fridge.  I think we’ll skip the tossed salad next year, or we’ll just do the half tray.
    • Pickle/Olive/Pepper Tray
      • This is what I had on that tray – dill spears; sweet midgets; stuffed green olives; jumbo black olives; pepper shooters; marinated peppers.  When the night was over, I had a whole section of marinated roasted peppers, a few of the black olives, three dill spears, no pepper shooters, a few midgets, and a few green olives.  I made the mistake of not buying pitted black olives, so that may have been why I had those left.  I don’t know if the multi-ethnic mix at the party appreciated the marinated roasted peppers – it’s more of an Italian thing, I think.  Everything else would be a must do on the next pickle tray I put together.  Pepper shooters – bigger jar for less money at Sam’s club.
    • Rolls (DelBuonos)
      • The round rolls all got used except one
      • The long rolls, I cut in half because they were too long.  Cut in half, they weren’t quite long enough.
      • Next year, Jim needs help with the rolls because he said it was hard for him to get 6 dozen rolls alone.
  • FINAL NOTES ON TABLE ONE
    • I forgot to put out the Provolone cheese for the sandwiches
    • We had a lot of Parmesan cheese left over, so the provolone cheese would have been better
    • I put out horseradish mustard and dijon mustard for the kielbasa – the dijon was gone.
    • I forgot to put salt and pepper on the table.  No one asked for it.
  • TABLE TWO – SNACK FOODS
    • Hoagie Dip from an internet recipe
      • Very popular with those who ate it, but not many people tried it.  It was a flavorful dip made from mayo, and hoagie meats (ham, capicola, salami, provolone cheese), and I served it with slices of a crusty Italian bread.  I tagged it with a small tag that said hoagie dip so people would be more encouraged to try it.
    • Spinach Dip from the Knorr’s box
      • Served in a round of pumpernickel bread, this was popular and was almost gone.  I served it with the Toasted varieties of crackers.
    • Onion Dip and Potato Chips
      • Had almost the whole bowl of dip left, no potato chips.  I filled the chips again towards the end of the night, and did throw those away.
    • Chips and Salsa
      • Threw the entire bowl of salsa away and a lot of the chips
    • Deviled Eggs
      • I made 36, we ate 4 before the party, and I had none left over, definitely do these again.
    • Pepperoni and Cheese (Misci Catering)
      • I could have done this myself.  I ordered it thinking I would save time, but really, it’s not that hard to do and I could have picked cheeses we liked better.  They used Swiss, a pepper type cheese, and a cheddar.
    • Mixed nuts from a can
      • We always do these, and there is no reason not to.
    • Shrimp and Cocktail Sauce
      • You just can’t skip these at a party.  Although, we did have some left from the 2 pound bag that I put out
  • FINAL NOTES ON TABLE TWO
    • Need to move this table so it is more accessible.  Some people didn’t even know we had the table, although as everyone came in, I did direct them to the various buffet stations.  We tried something different by putting this table downstairs to try and break up the crowd a bit, but it was mostly kids downstairs.
  • TABLE THREE – DESSERTS
    • 5 pound cookie tray from Aunt Jo’s Cookies in Haddon Heights – we have about a pound and a half of cookies left, so they were definitely popular.
    • Miniature cheese cakes from Sam’s – we got rid of about half of these.  A whole cake might have been better, but this way, people got to sample different bites in case they weren’t hungry enough for all of them.
    • A delicious cheesecake from Aunt Barbara – Oh my goodness!  It was creamy and delicious and had cherries in it.  This was so good!!
    • A tray of cream cakes from the Acme – An assortment of carrot cake, a chocolate cake, some kind of cake with fruit in the center, and another variety.  This was popular and everyone said delicious.  Picked up at the last minute.
    • A tray of miniature pastries from the Acme – I had only three soggy cannoli left on this platter.  It was filled with chocolate and cheese filled cannoli, cream puffs, and eclairs.  Very popular, and picked up at the last minute.
    • Sliced Fruit from Misci catering – it’s a must have, and usually goes very well.  We had a lot of fruit left this time though, and another whole tray in the fridge.
    • Santa Cake with Reindeer Cupcakes – This got the most comments about how cute it was.  It was pre-made at the Acme, and it had a one layer Santa cake in the center, and was surrounded by both vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, frosted with white icing, topped with chocolate Mousse reindeer with pretzel antlers.  Everyone loved it, thought it was an adorable idea, but we ended up with most of the Santa cake left and all but 5 cupcakes.  I don’t know if I would buy it again, although for $13, it was a great centerpiece.
    • Mushroom meringue cookies – made by Donna Masino – these were so adorable and so delicious.  I don’t know why she doesn’t go into business!  These were cinnamon sugar flavored meringue, formed into mushrooms, dipped in chocolate.  SOOO good, and they were really popular.
  • FINAL NOTES ON TABLE THREE
    • Next year, we might be moving this table downstairs.  Everyone, I think, will seek out desserts.  Part of the problem with the snacks downstairs is no one came down, but for dessert and hot coffee, I think they’ll come.  It’s the Field of Dreams Theory.
  • STATION FOUR – DRINKS
    • First we can’t call it a table, because we scatter the stuff around.  Beer is in the FL room; sodas are in the FL room; alcoholic beverages are on the kitchen counter, and this year, we had a 30 pot coffee maker on the kitchen counter with the alcohol and a 12 pot coffee maker with hot water in it for tea on the dessert table.
    • Beer – Jim took WAY TOO LONG to find holiday beers.  He said it was fun to do, and he would do it again.  Not all of the beer was well received, and I think we should have had some normal beer, but we don’t have leftover beer as we would have if we had a case of Corona as we normally do.
    • Wine – we were gifted with several bottles, and a couple were opened.  We have half bottles of wine left, but I think just to make all of our guests happy, we need to have wine.
    • Sodas – we did Diet and regular Pepsi, and then cases of Acme brand sodas.  People drank the store brands more than the Pepsi, and we ran out of root beer.  We have less than half of the Acme sodas left.  But Jim also didn’t put the Pepsi in the ice bucket.  I think the flavors are popular.
    • Mixed drinks – Not too many people drank those, but my mom and Bob.  It’s still nice to have the liquor shelf, though, if anyone had wanted something.  I might go make myself an amaretto and 7-up right now 😉
  • FINAL NOTES ON STATION FOUR
    • Jim thinks we should get another table to put all of the beverages on out in the FL room.  I think it’s a good idea.  We kept having to fill the ice bucket (which we need a better one of) from ice in the FL room, and it would have been better to have everything in one place.  A separate table might have also encouraged that whole “male bonding” thing that takes place around the booze.  The tubs we bought a few years ago are great for keeping the soda in – easy for the kids to access, keeps things nice and cold.
    • The mixed nuts would go great on the “bar”.

Jim did a quick run to Kmart in the morning and jazzed up the place with new sets of Christmas towels for each bathroom and two large poinsettias for out front.  That looked very nice as people walked up to the front door.  I think everyone had a good time, though we’re not big on entertainment.  There was no Christmas music playing, and it might have been good to have a holiday Karaoke thing going for the kids to sing.  I did notice the movie “Elf” playing in the living room, but none of the kids really paying much attention.  Last year, the guys watched football, so the karaoke thing wouldn’t have worked, but it wasn’t the case this year.