christmas background

In the midst of all the fun of the holiday glitter, glamor and lights, a simple and thoughtful party plan can be quite refreshing to holiday-hectic friends and family. This type of gathering signals to your guests that it is really all about them and time spent together. It tells your guests that they can relax, slow-down and get comfortable. It sets expectations for great conversation and just enjoying being in one another’s company.

The menu for this party is designed for you to not only serve great food, but also to enjoy the party rather than worrying about the “next thing” that needs your attention.

Suggested Menu – Click the red items below to read full recipes

Favorite Fabulous Salad

Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate, and Almonds

A Trio of Mini-Sandwiches

Creamy Smoked Trout with Apple and Horseradish on Crisp Brown Bread
French Onion Soup on Toast
Ultimate Grilled Cheese 

Homemade Soups

French Peasant Soup
Galician soup – something hearty from Spain
Galician Caldo Gallego (Galician Broth) Recipe


Fruit Skewered Christmas Pineapple
Eggnog Meltaway Cookie

Decorate and Accessorize

This menu will look fabulous set on a backdrop of simple, homemade decorations. Consider a burlap table runner or muslin place mats and simple red or blue and cream plaid napkins. Tie napkins with chunky twine, tuck in a sprig of pine and/or a bunch of winter berries. Use pine roping and pine cones and more berry sprigs as the centerpieces for your tables.

Present the salad in a wooden bowl and the cocktail sandwiches on one or more wooden platters/breadboards. Use handled soup bowls for the soup and serve right from the stove top.

Pre-Party Stress Reduction

Prepare your soup of choice weeks ahead and freeze until two days before the party. Prepare salad dressing a few days in advance as well. You can even toast the breads and prepare the toppings/fillings the day before if desired. Assemble the sandwiches just before serving.

Entertain and Connect

Consider slipping a question printed in red ink on brown craft paper into every napkin or tying it to the stem of the guests’ glasses. Create questions that are designed to encourage a time of sharing from the heart. This goes well with the idea that your guests are the stars of your party. Some question ideas include:

  • What is something from this past year that you are most excited about or proud of?
  • What was the funniest moment of the past few months?
  • What is one resolution you will make next year?
  • High point of the year?
  • Low point of the year?
  • Best book you read this year?
  • Greatest challenge of the past year?

For the full collection of tips, recipes and decor, download our Planning Guide Part Two – Simple and Thoughtful Gatherings.

If you missed Part One – Casually Elegant Buffets, it’s not too late to download it.