Hello holiday people!
For my final post of the Holiday Blognanza with Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen, I've made you this delicious punch that will charm the pants off you and your guests. That could be a good or bad thing depending who your guests are, so invite cool and attractive people to come drink with you just to be safe. Olaiya has a recipe for toasted buckwheat granola with tahini and dark chocolate up on her blog for you to indulge in and feel good about it. This punch is perfect for pre-dinner drinks, alongside food or after food. It's versatile because it's light and contains amari that help you digest. Amari are lovely to sip on before or after a meal, particularly with some ice and a citrus peel. The fresh and bubbly flavour of this punch is reminiscent of orange crush but a very adult version being less sweet and added notes of bitterness. It even tastes amazing flat if you don't drink it all in one night. Pour it into a sealable bottle or mason jar and keep in the fridge for tomorrow's Christmas movie or a night cap. I brought a leftover bottle of this flat punch to a friend's place last night and it was a huge hit. Such a hit that as I write this, my mind is foggy from the evening's holiday cheer and lack of sleep so forgive my briefness. It was totally worth it. Now go whip up a batch of this delicious stuff (it only takes a couple minutes) and you'll be feeling extra warm and cheery in no time.
Here are the previous holiday posts from this month if you need some food and gift ideas!
Holiday Party Tips (section four)
Setting The Tone
Setting the tone of a gathering is so important. For a visceral experience, I consider what people's the senses will encounter when arriving. What will they experience in terms of their sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
How do I make everyone look as attractive as possible? Lighting! And booze. But mostly lighting. Overhead lights can be unflattering so unless it's your only option, side lighting with lamps and candles are a better option. If overhead lighting must be used then offset with candles and lamps or dim down if possible. Twinkly lights, a himalayan salt lamp and candles are my favourite light accents.
Lots of delicious food aromas wafting through your home before people arrive may be all you need. I turn on my essential oil diffuser while I get ready because it's relaxes me as I ease into the evening. For a bright and uplifting scent try lemon or orange oil (you can add a little peppermint if you like which goes with both nicely). For something earthy and relaxing, lavender, rosemary and conifer work well. If you're stuffed up from winter colds or want a clean smell, half eucalyptus and half lavender is my favourite.
Music is key at a gathering and one of the biggest tone setters. Construct your own playlist or pick on out on Spotify or 8tracks. A classic jazz soul playlist is perfect for a winter gathering. This In The Kitchen playlist goes well with cooking, preparing and for when guests arrive. I have a few playlists with different vibes saved on my computer for when the energy changes. Maybe it evolves into a dance party (the best kind of party). The volume level is important as well. If the music is too quiet it can feel awkward but if it's too loud, people can't hear or focus on conversations.
TV. Yes or no?
Unless the gathering is centred around a tv show, movie or sports games I would avoid turning on the tv. I find this is a quick party killer and people end up zoned out on the screen.
I love when people have a candle already lit in the bathroom. It makes it feel cozy and like they care about every room in their home. I keep a stick a palo santo and a lighter in a small glass above the toilet for people to light. Ensure there is ample soap, toilet paper, and a clean hand towel.
When guests arrive
Greet them with enthusiasm and a hug (this is part of the touch sense and hugs are important, okay?). If you are enthusiastic to see someone, they will feel the same. Often we mirror other people's feelings, so be the feeling-guru and have everyone else mirror your excited and cheerful vibe. Show them where they can put their coats so they don't take up room in the common area. Offer a drink by telling them exactly what the options are. Offering homemade punch to start is always a welcomed sight.
Be aware of the vibe
Once everyone has arrived, the tone of the gathering will be set. It may need some help by initiating conversations between people and topping up drinks (which always gets the conversation flowing). If it's feeling too sleepy, consider turning up the lights a little or changing the playlist to something more upbeat. Now just let it be and enjoy! I find the more I focus on enjoying myself, the more others enjoy themselves. Happiness is contagious, guys.
bay leaf gin
Pour one cup of gin into a mason jar. Take 15 fresh bay leaves and rip in half. Place into jar of gin and seal. Leave for at least six hours. I left mine overnight. Remove bay leaves or strain if needed.
Make extra ice ahead of time or buy a bag at the store. If you have a punch bowl, there are some pretty awesome ice rings you can make the day before like this one.
Wishing you a happy holidays with lots of lovely food, family, friends and punch!
AMARO SPRITZ PUNCH
inspiration: Aperol Spritz
the feels: fresh, light, slightly sweet + bitter
eat with: cocktail snacks, antipasto, cheese ball
might like if you're into: apertivos, digestivos, dance parties, fancy parties, san pellegrino aranciata, negronis, aperol spritz, amaro, campari + soda
makes 12 cups (one large bowl or jug of punch) || time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup aperol
- 1 cup amaro montenegro
- 1 cup gin (for bay infused gin, read the recipe notes above)
- 1 cup orange juice
- 4 cups cava (prosecco, champagne or sparkling wine)
- 4 cups sparkling water
- ice for serving
- 2 oranges, sliced into wheels (optional)
- handful of fresh bay leaves (optional)
- Add aperol, amaro montenegro, gin, and orange juice to a jug or punch bowl. Just before serving, add cava and sparkling water. Stir to mix. Top with sliced oranges and bay leaves if desired. Add lots of ice to punch (the more the better because it will melt slower with more and keep the punch cold for longer. Or you can add ice to each glass as you serve it.
Pour leftovers into a sealable bottle or jar and keep in the fridge for up to five days. It's delicious flat or you can brighten it back up with a splash of sparkling water or sparkling wine.