Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Celebration Preparations

I just realized that I forgot to push the "publish" button on this post this morning.  Oops!  So I'm sending it out a tad late.

Good morning, dear readers!  And happy day before Christmas Eve! 

I’m  just sitting here by the light of the tree, drinking coffee and thinking warm thoughts, getting excited for the coming days.  (Our super awesome overlit Griswold family tree has many light settings, and this one is the candy cane/red-and-white-lights-only option.  The photo doesn't do it justice; but isn't it pretty?)

This will be our fifth Christmas in VA.  And each year since we've been here living near our four oldest sons, we've floated the idea that since we get to see them so often throughout the year, we would be okay with having a family celebration on some date before or after the 25th, so that they can either stay home on Christmas with just their little ones or enjoy time with their kids' grandparents and aunts and uncles on their moms' side.

But in spite of the lack of pressure to spend Christmas Day itself with us, that seems to be what most of our VA peeps actually want to do!  Our youngest son is in MI with his wife's family this Christmas.  But the four sons who live near us down here have all agreed that an Open House party at Papa and Grammy's centrally located home is a good idea.  So as long as everyone stays healthy until Christmas, we could have as many as 33 people here that afternoon: 16 adults (including not just our four sons and their wives, but a couple sets of their in-laws, plus the brother and girlfriend of one daughter-in-law) and 17 kids.  

Because the group is so large and figuring out how to time a sit-down meal is pretty much impossible (believe me, we've tried, and it gets complicated; especially with people driving from 1/2 hour to an hour away, with babies and small children and their nap schedules to figure in--not to mention Christmas Day overexcitement!).  So this year, we are having a come-when-you-can, stay-as-little-or-long-as-you-like, heavy hors d'oeuvres and snacks, old-fashioned cocktail party kind of a party. 

We have tried cooking a beef tenderloin for our gang here.  We have tried a buffet-style menu, with lasagna and pulled pork and other hot casserole-type items in chafing dishes.  We keep fine-tuning, trying to figure out what we can manage best without a staff of catering professionals on hand to make sure all goes smoothly and everything stays hot.  (A quick aside here: How positively dreamy does a catered party sound?!)  So I am actually kind of excited about trying this more relaxed format for a Pearl family party, and I've been working on my menu.  Here are the items I'm planning so far: Swedish meatballs; cocktail weiners in barbecue sauce; piglets in blankets (yes, Little Smokies are going to play a major role in this shindig!); deli meats and slices of deep-fried turkey (my husband has always wanted to try cooking a turkey this way); rolls for sandwich making; Tostitos with salsa and guacamole; Buffalo chicken dip with Fritos; loaded baked potato dip with Ruffles; Pimento cheese dip with crackers; veggies and dip platter; baked stuffed mushrooms; deviled eggs; fruit. There may be more items added, but that’s it so far.  And the guests are bringing stuff to share as well.   (I'll also have mac and cheese as a backup for any picky eaters in the younger crowd!) I have crockpots for keeping the meatballs and Little Smokies warm, but most of the foods we'll have out won't need to be heated.  I THINK this is going to be our most stress-free party yet.

For dessert, I'm making a red velvet bundt cake with cream cheese frosting and several batches of Christmas cookies, and I've also got plenty of store-bought goodies, too, including lots of chocolates and chocolate-covered treats.

If you have any egg allergies in your family, like we do, these are great
(and easy!) eggless cookies: 1 box red velvet cake mix, 1/2 c. water,
1/2 c. oil, white chips, and sprinkles; bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

I will break out some of my pretty Christmas platters and serving dishes (because if they never get used, why even have them?), but otherwise, it's going to be paper and plastic all the way, so there won't be much to clean up afterward.  (She throws her head back and guffaws loudly, remembering that after every giant family party--disposable plates or not--she and her husband joke that perhaps it would be easier to torch the place than to clean it!)

I've been collecting party supplies here and there for the past month.  The planning part of having a
party is one of my favorite activities. :)

BTW, do these chips look fun to you...or sort of gross?  (I’m going with fun.)

I'm going to take a break for the next few days, until the excitement dies down, and just enjoy being in the moment with all the people I love most.  But here's wishing you all a blessed Christmas.  Joy to the World!    Let earth receive her King!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful open house, so fun.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. I love your party menu! Sounds delicious