The holiday season often means non-stop entertaining. While most guests and visitors are anticipated, there always seem to be a few people who “drop-in” because they happened to be in town or were driving through the area.
Drop-in visitors are always a nice surprise but can throw an unprepared hostess off her stride. One of the ways to manage emergency entertaining over the holidays is to always have a ready supply of holiday drinks, holiday paper goods, and pre-prepped appetizers and snacks on hand. With a stash of emergency appetizers on hand, entertaining on short notice won’t be any trouble at all.
For a quick holiday beverage, our family’s “house special” is 6 ounces of eggnog mixed up with 1/2 a jigger brandy, a splash of whiskey and a dash of nutmeg which can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. If the weather is frigid and drop-in visitors are in the mood for hot drinks, hot alcoholic drinks such as hot rum toddies and Irish coffee are quick to prepare.
As far as the snacks or appetizers, advance preparation (or pre-prepped) is the secret to entertaining drop-in holiday visitors. Pre-prepped snacks are snacks or treats that have been made up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until they are needed.
Need ideas of appetizers that can be pre-prepped and refrigerated for drop-in holiday visitors? Here are some of my favorites:
Cheddar cheese ball or chicken pate served up with crackers. Cheddar cheese balls can be found in the deli case of your local grocery store, and are a fantastic appetizer that can be brought out on short notice. A cheddar cheese ball should be served up a with plate of gourmet crackers.
Slightly more upscale is chicken pate, an easy to make appetizer that looks fantastic. To make this appetizer, you’ll need the following ingredients:
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 TB chopped green onions
1 TB dry white wine
1/4 tsp minced garlic
dash of salt and pepper
1. Combine ingredients in a food processor, mix until smooth.
2. Line two (2) one cup bowls with plastic wrap, distribute the pate evenly between the bowls.
3. Let chill overnight.
4. To serve, invert one of the pates on a smaller platter, sprinkle with crushed walnuts and then surround with crackers. The second pate can be saved for your next round of holiday visitors
Plate of homemade cookies. Homemade holiday cookies are a traditional favorite to serve drop-in visitors. For the nicest presentation, arrange an assortment of different cookie types on a single plate, along with some Jordan almonds or other homemade candy.
Slices of homemade pumpkin bread with cheddar cheese wedges. Sweet quick breads are popular homemade gifts and very convenient for serving to drop-in holiday visitors. Arranged on a platter with cheddar cheese wedges, quick breads are delicious any time of the day. Popular breads that can be made up ahead of time and stored in the frig for emergencies are pumpkin breads, nut breads, or spice breads.
Meat & cheese plates. For late afternoon drop-ins, meat & cheese platters can be quick to assemble. What I do slice up a selection of cold cuts & cheese to refrigerate in zippered sandwich bags until they are needed. Served up on a plate with mini deli loaves and deli mustard, this appetizer takes just a couple of minutes to assemble.
Tortilla roll ups come in an incredible range of filling ideas. Quick recipes often call for mixing up a stick of soften cream cheese with half a jar of salsa, then slathering the mixture onto a thin tortilla. The tortilla is then rolled up and sliced into 1 inch wedges to create pinwheels. My favorite version of the filling is a little dressier; what I like about this recipe is that the filling can be made up and stored ahead of time, then assembled into pinwheels at the last minute.
12 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mayo
1 can deviled ham
3 TB minced green onion (including the green part)
3 TB chopped olives
3 TB chopped walnut
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 T Worchestershire sauce
Combine ingredients, turn into sealed container until needed.
Entertaining over the holidays means preparing for every contingency, including drop-in visitors. A stash of pre-prepped appetizers and holiday cocktail mixes is the best way to prevent drop-in holiday visitors from being unwelcome visitors.