Now that summer is coming to an end and school is back in full swing, many people are already looking for their next “break.” It’s crazy to think, but the holidays will actually be here before you know it! What better way to escape all of the back-to-school hustle and bustle than by planning your next big bash? If you’re likely to host family and/or friends for a holiday get together, read on for some tips to DIY, or consider calling in the professionals to help you whip together a stress-free, holiday extravaganza, and give you more time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with the ones you love most!
As the summer comes to an end, take advantage of the milder weather of the season and celebrate Oktoberfest with grilled brats, soft pretzels, potato pancakes, Weissbier, and apple strudel. Don’t forget a good Oompah band to keep everyone going and send the summer out with a bang. Prosit!
Dia de lost Muertos
Who says Halloween has to be just for the kids? Consider a Dia de los Muertos party for the adults. Many people don’t realize that Dia de los Muertos is a time when Mexican families get together to remember and pray for loved ones who’ve passed away, in order to help with their grieving and healing process. Families typically enjoy their loved one’s favorite foods, or you could opt for other traditional favorites such as moles, tamales, pumpkin empanadas, pan de muerto, Champurrado (thick Mexican hot chocolate), arroz con leche, and tres leches cake. Feeling extra festive? Try some colorful, skull-shaped sugar cookies, or opting for a pumpkin spice tres leches cake in place of the traditional.
Whether you’re going for a small gathering with your immediate family, “friendsgiving”, or a large to-do with all of the extended family, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to relax and reflect on the many blessings in our lives with the people who mean the most to us. Let’s not forget the great football and delicious meal to be thankful for, too! Savory oven roasted turkey with stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes, sweet candied yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and your favorite pie(s)... Top it all off with hot spiced rum, mulled wine or some spiced cider, and it doesn’t get much better than that!
Hanukkah is another holiday that allows for some much needed family time and celebration among Jewish families. Grab the Manischewitz (or sparkling cider for the kids) and gather everyone for a round of dreidel before lighting the menorah. Let the celebration continue with delicious brisket, potato latkes with sour cream and applesauce, Challah bread, noodle kugel and strawberry sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) for dessert, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a Festival of Lights for all to remember!
Ask Christian families how they celebrate Christmas, and you’ll get many similar responses: church, quality family time, stockings and presents, lots of hot cocoa, cookies and eggnog, and much anticipation over the coveted White Christmas! However, what one family considers a “traditional” Christmas dinner often varies quite a bit. Many families feast on a dinner similar to their Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. while others like to mix it up with a Virginia baked ham or beef tenderloin. Try serving these alternatives with scalloped potatoes, fresh bread, pomegranate, pear and gorgonzola spinach salad, and bread pudding or your favorite pie for dessert, and everyone will be sure to agree it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
New Year’s Eve
There’s nothing more exciting and hopeful than ringing in the New Year with family and friends! Getting dressed up for a night on the town is something many people plan and look forward to for weeks, if not longer, while others prefer to keep things simpler and stay home or local with their favorite people. But no one said “simple” has to mean “boring.” If you’re hosting a New Year’s dinner or party, consider offering pear and prosciutto crostinis, grilled beef hibachi skewers, shrimp cocktail martini glasses, assorted sushi, and/or a baked artichoke dip for starters, followed by Cornish game hens or porkloin stuffed with plums, served with roasted winter veggies as your entree, and chocolate fondue and cranberry apple strudel for a festive dessert! Keep the champagne (or sparkling cider) flowing, and enjoy the great food and company as you cheers to a happy and prosperous 2018!
Michael Evans is chef-owner of Helga’s Caterers, a family-owned, full-service catering company with over 35 years of experience in providing fine food and excellent service for all of your catering needs throughout the D.C. Metro Area.