We’re not exactly sure how many years we’ve been hosting our annual Christmas party. But, it has become a yearly tradition where we invite our church family, family, and neighbors. We’ve kept the routine simple: I do the decorating and cooking, Dearest and our daughter do the entertaining. Dearest is very good at the entertaining.
This can be as relaxed or formal as one may wish. The most important part is the gathering of the people. I love to pause to listen to the happy chatter as folks greet one another and begin conversations here and there. It’s a happy gathering and one we look forward to each year.
Our home has a lovely, nearly open concept layout before it became popular. The dining room and the living room are joined together by a large arched opening. Also, we have a room off to the side of the living room separated by French doors that I open widely to allow our guests to sit and to mingle. If you’ve read my previous posts, this is my office/retreat. The kitchen is separated by a wonderful swinging door. Our guests find each other and meet and greet in each of these rooms.
Each year it’s amazing how many people we can gather together and each year I say afterward, I think we need to remove some furniture so that we can have more space. The more the merrier.
The decorating begins before Thanksgiving, early in November. We also love to have a live tree which Dearest and the girls decorate together…that’s been a family tradition for several years. I love reusing decorations from year to year and finding different ways to display them – almost creating a theme. This year there’s a lot of rustic decor in the preserved pinecones. Some are bleached, some are frosted and some are extremely large – they were decorations from my daughter’s sister-in-law’s wedding a few years back. I love mingling natural and artificial, colorful decor throughout the house.
This is one area where some things are made from year to year and some things are new. Each year I love to balance savory and sweet dishes along with healthy, vegan dishes. More and more we’re finding family and friends who are following different diets and I want them to be able to enjoy a few treats at our party.
I’m a list girl. Getting all these things accomplished requires a to-do list. When I’ve veered from my list – I have forgotten things. This year I left off turning on some lights above the china cabinet – I envisioned a winter wonderland…and yes, they were forgotten and left off! I even add to the last of the list, ‘clean me!’ In a tongue in cheek reminder – don’t forget yourself when getting the food and home ready for your guests. I also try to make sure I’m completely ready at least an hour before. There are always last minute details to attend to up to and until the guests arrive.
Getting family and friends together is such a wonderful thing. Whether it’s something that is done seasonally or occasionally, I think we should make this a bigger part of our days in the coming year, don’t you?
The memories we create and cherish will make us smile and bring delight to our hearts. My hope is that our family and friends will find that they feel the same way too. I also prepare a ‘Save the Date’ for next year’s party – I love this idea! I don’t know who started it, but it’s marvelous!
As you’re gathering with family and friends I hope you find as much joy and happiness as we do in ours. I hope you make time with them one of your resolutions for your coming year. Don’t you think time flies by so very fast! I do! I want to make sure that my days are filled with the most important things – time with those I love.
Here are a few of the recipes I used for our party this year. These are rich in sugar and butter – not recipes that you’d typically make too often! I’m going to be looking for more recipes that my family and friends who have restricted diets can enjoy. Do you have a favorite?
You may know these cookies by a different name. They’re commonly similar to Mexican Wedding Cakes, Teacakes or Russian cakes. The similarity is in their ease of making and their not too sweet buttery goodness. There will be a type of nut added along with vanilla. I used the Mexican vanilla Dearest purchased for me while we were on our Cruise. It’s marvelously vanilla with a floral hint to its fragrance and flavor. You can use a wide variety of nuts with this recipe. I used the Southern perennial Pecan. I’ve read where others may use Almonds, Walnuts and even Pine Nuts. You can play with the batter by adding some other flavoring than Vanilla…perhaps, almond extract, lemon juice, and grated lemon…You can even add a touch of cocoa to give these melt-in-your-mouth treats a wonderful hint of chocolate. I love the variety and the possibilities!
Kipplens, Mexican Wedding Cookings, Russian Tea Cakes
- 2 cups butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
- 5 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 cups chopped Pecans
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in vanilla. Add flour, pecans, and salt; mix well. Roll dough into 1-in. balls and place on ungreased baking sheets.
bake for 15-20 minutes - until lightly browned on edges.
Dearest loves just about anything with coconut. These buttery bars are a favorite of all our guests!
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar-packed
- 1/4 cup butter-melted
- 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar and salt. Then, stir in 1 cup melted butter. Pour over onto prepared pan. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake until light brown, 12-15 minutes. Allow the crust to cool 10 minutes.
Reduce oven setting to 325°.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sweetened milk, flour, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt until well blended. stir in 3 cups coconut.
Pour over crust; sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake until light golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Lifting with parchment paper, remove from pan. Cut into bars.
Baked Crab Dip
I’m glad I had three of these. They were all eaten – even the bowls! This is such a simple delicious savory dish!
Baked Crab Dip
- 1 25 oz can Crab Meat
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 pkg cream cheese - softened
- 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 4 green onions thinly chopped
- crackers or vegetables for dipping
- 3 round French Boule bread
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese.
Add the sour cream, mix well.
Fold in the remaining ingredients: crab meat, shredded Cheddar cheese and green onions
Slice the top of the French Boule bread. Hollow out the bread by removing the inside of the bread.
Spoon the crabmeat mixture into the bread bowl and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Top with some of the sliced onions and serve warm
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