I figure our forefathers (and mothers) had the right idea by coming up with so many wonderful things to celebrate during the months of November and December, sensing that humanity would need a collective "pick me up" as the days grew shorter and the weather colder.
Whether that pick me up is Thanksiving, Ramadan, Hanukkah, or Christmas, the important thing is that we gather together with the people we care about to share laughter, libation, delicious food, and gratitude.
My family celebrates Christmas, and it's probably my absolute favourite time of year - which is strange seeing that I am otherwise such a summer loving person.
But Christmas and its special magic has me in its spell.
As such, it is not unusal for me to have my entire home decorated by December the 1st because I like to squeeze every drop I can from the season.
Every year around this time, a handful of close friends are invited over for cocktails, delicious bites, and a few laughs while they tease me about my passion for all things Christmas.
Secretly I know, though, how much the evening is appreciated and how much we all look forward to getting together.
As a believer in keeping things simple, I serve easy to prepare appetizers and drinks every year starting with the cocktails.
Too many hosts make the mistake of thinking they need a wide range of complicated expensive ingredients on hand - especially when it comes to stocking a bar.
I offer guests a variety of wine, beer, and two of my favourite signature cocktails...
The Red Shoe Martini
And The Greentini
The nice thing about having signature drinks and recipes is that your friends will begin to associate and look forward to enjoying these quiet comforts in your presence.
And in the warm and inviting atmosphere you create in your home.
Twinkle lights, and whimsy
Treasured decorations provide a loving reminder...
Of where you have been and roads not yet taken.
And the food...
Those who know me, understand that when I entertain it is always with uncomplicated recipes that are tried and true that can be mostly made ahead of time.
On the menu for this particular party:
Hot Mushroom Turnovers
Crispy Baked Chicken Wings with Creamy Buttermilk Dipping Sauce
Bright and Zesty Shrimp Ceviche in Tortilla Cups
Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps
And an assorted crudite platter with Green Goddess Dip.
I plate all my goodies together on Christmas platters (purchased at Sears my first year of marriage and treasured as much as if they were limoges)
Placed throughout the party area so that everyone can just help themself.
Friends, family, good food, love, and gratitude - all put together in one wonderfully meaningful kick off to the season.
Onward to a festive and flavourful holiday season here at The Kitchen Witch!
Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.
Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.