Last weekend we had the pleasure of hosting our nearest and dearest for a holiday tot party. When envisioning the party I knew that I wanted each child to be able to decorate home baked cookies, create holiday themed crafts and take home an apron as a party favor. Since most of the kids in our lives take a nap around 1 PM we chose brunch for the food theme and asked each guest to bring their favorite breakfast dish to share. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, and honestly, it's the way to go when throwing a party. Instead of sending out paper invites I sent out cute holiday evites and let each guest tell me what dish they would prefer to bring. Once I saw what everyone would like to share I made my grocery list for: overnight pumpkin french toast, caprese dip, egg cups, reindeer cookie pops, polar express hot chocolate for the kids and mimosa's for the adults. Once I had my shopping list in hand the kids and I headed to Smart & Final to gather all the necessary items for a successful holiday party.
|My shopping cart prior to child #1 joining spot in the basket.|
I had not shopped at Smart & Final for years and I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get almost everything off of my shopping list. Plus, they had such a great selection of holiday and wine items that it was easy to check-off stocking stuffers and gifts for neighbors and friends alike.
For any party that I throw I like to check as many items off the list the night before to alleviate any unnecessary stress the day of the party. I was able to prepare the overnight pumpkin french toast (recipe below), hot cocoa marshmallow pops, the sugar and gingerbread cookies and the reindeer (nutter butter) cookie pops. The morning of the party I prepared the egg cups, pulled the french toast out of the refrigerator, assembled the hot cocoa and got it simmering. I also know that most of my friends enjoy pumpkin coffee so I brewed my favorite pumpkin blend and had a mini coffee bar next to the hot cocoa. About forty-five minutes before our guests began to arrive I placed all the items in the oven that needed to be baked. Ten minutes before I turned on holiday music, did a quick switch out of my pj's and made the final details on the kids table.
We had eighteen children attend. Each place setting had an apron, a plastic Santa or snowman milk bottle, one cookie, a dish of sprinkles and a bag of royal icing. We had extra cookies in the center so each child could take home a gingerbread person and sugar cookie tree.
The brunch spread. We had everything from chile relleno casserole, potato casserole, lemon cakes, fruit, caprese dip, spinach jalapeno dip and egg cups.
The coffee bar. Pumpkin spice coffee, vanilla syrup, chocolate ganache dipped marshmallows and polar express hot cocoa.
Not only are these pops amazing to snack on they are a great addition to a cup of coffee or cocoa. I am even adding them to cookie trays this season.
My friend, Danielle, assembling the meat and cheese platter.
My sister, Lindsay, preparing the caprese dip and slicing a baguette.
These egg cups make an appearance at any get together my girlfriends and I have. I mistakenly forgot the butter, how that came about, I am not sure. I honestly don't think I have ever placed forgot and butter into the same sentence ever, but it happened.
Popping the bubbly. Tip: When opening a bottle of champagne remove the foil and then take a kitchen towel onto the cork. Slowly pull the cork out, but as the cork is at the top of the bottle hold it there for a few seconds. You will see the bubbly steam seep out. Once a little of this comes out remove the cork and towel. You have now avoided bubbly spraying all over you, the counter and your guests.
Keep the beverages simple. Have options but you don't need to break the bank. We provided Honest Tea juice pouches, mimosa's (simply orange juice + Ballatore champagne), coffee, bottled water, hot cocoa and milk.
Favors: While the aprons were labor intensive they were still a hit and a memorable gift to send the kids home with to use for years to come. I also wanted to provide an edible favor so my friends and I made these Nutter Butter reindeer cookie pops. Instead of using popsicle sticks I found adorable holiday chevron craft sticks. Melted chocolate, Nutter Butters, red m&m's, edible candy eyes and pretzels made for another defined detail.
From ages one to nine each child had a blast decorating their cookies to their liking. Even if mom got in on the decorating action!
We also had a craft table where the kids could decorate jingle bell necklaces and foam ornaments.
Overnight Pumpkin French Toast
2 loaves First Street French bread, cut into 1" slices
2 cups milk
1 can pumpkin puree
2 TB cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1. Layer sliced bread in an 11x13 oven safe dish. In a bowl, combine the next five ingredients and mix until combined. Pour egg mixture over the bread and cover. Refridgerate overnight.
2. The next morning remove the casserole and preheat your oven to 375º. In a bowl, combine the pecans, corn syrup, brown sugar and butter. Drizzle the topping over the bread. Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly and brown. Serve immediately with syrup or by itself.
Are you hosting the holidays? What's your favorite holiday tradition?
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