’Tis the season
It’s time to think about cocktail nibbles
During the mid-1980s, before the stockmarket crash, I joined the throngs who partied like there was no tomorrow. It was always the lead-up to Christmas when things really went crazy. From party to party to party, the food and booze flowed in rivers — a stream of silver trays, laden with smoked salmon bagels, crisp-fried Cajun shrimps, baby leek and smoked bacon quiches, spicy venison sausage rolls, crispy duck wontons, chicken tandoori kebabs and beef carpaccio crostini, partnered a swill of Bolly, martinis, peach mojitos and sludgy margaritas. By the time Christmas actually arrived, everyone was feeling decidedly ropey, our digestive systems trying to deal with the contents of a dozen or more caterers’ fridges and way too much booze.
These days, most of us can’t afford to entertain like this, neither in the time and energy it takes to prepare a massive event, nor in fronting the expense — let alone in enduring the subsequent hangover.
Which is why I love the “all fur coat and no knickers” approach to throwing a Christmas party. In other words, create an impressive or sophisticated appearance that belies the fact that there is nothing to substantiate it.
There’s simply no point in breaking the bank or exhausting yourself over intricate little hors d’oeuvres with unpronounceable names. At this time of year there’s just too much going on for people to ever remember that yours was the party where they served that amazing seaweed-crusted-tuna-withsmoked-egg-aioli-and-pickled-samphire thing. Leave all that to the professional caterers, I say. In my book, a good cocktail party should be in and out, two hours of really good fun, catching up with people you might not have seen all year, neatly timed so that people can come directly from work and then go home.
On the booze front, you may want to offer a little welcome cocktail to loosen everyone up and get the party going but otherwise you only need wine, water and perhaps a refreshing non-alcoholic punch. For the food, two or three types of nibbles is all you need. Make it look pretty on big platters and fill the house with fresh flowers and scented candles.
Get a bit dressed up, put on a cruisy playlist (make sure the music isn’t so loud that people can’t talk) and get ready to party.
The silly season is here!