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EVENT: Thankful For Friends Cocktail Party

Being away from my family during Thanksgiving, or any holiday, is always tough for me, and this year was no different. My boyfriend, Larry, and I woke up on Thanksgiving to a very quiet house, and no plans to spend the day sitting around a long table filled with many family members like we are both used to. We both have large Italian families, and family dinners typically are loud and crowded, but because of Larry's work schedule and having to travel, it was too difficult to try and get back home for Thanksgiving this year. So, we spent a quiet day with only the two of us. We had a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, but it just wasn't the same holiday we are both accustomed to.

Larry is in his third year of his medical residency, and many of his fellow residents were in a similar situation, unable to travel home to celebrate with their own families. We decided to throw a cocktail party the day after Thanksgiving so that anyone who was feeling like us — a little down and a little homesick — could get together and celebrate together and feel like the holiday didn't pass us completely by without getting to share some love with one another.

Larry and I love to order a bunch of appetizers and enjoy a drink or two together when we go out, so that's what we decided we wanted to do for this party — celebrate a typical Thanksgiving meal through appetizer bites. We put together a menu of all of our Thanksgiving favorites, and turned them into one bite appetizers that are easy to eat with a drink in your hand. We also love charcuterie boards (it's actually one of the things that brought us together on our first date), so we decided to incorporate the appetizers into a giant charcuterie display.

Our kitchen and living room has a nice open floor plan that is centered around an island in the kitchen, so we used that as the foundation of our food display. We used acrylic risers underneath platters to create height for the food displays and incorporated the hot appetizers throughout the island so that both hot and cold food was included all the way around the food display.

We also setup a full cocktail bar, including a feature drink for the party, and a dessert display at the end of the kitchen island. I always like to pre-make a pitcher of a feature drink for any party I throw. I find that if you have a fun cocktail that is in theme with the party, most people will want to at least try it, and because it's premixed, most guests will lean toward drinking that over making their own cocktail. For this party, we made Cranberry Orange Mimosas, which was 1-1-1 Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice and Prosecco, with fresh cranberries and sliced oranges in the punch. We added ice to each glass and topped each glass about 1/3 of the way with extra Prosecco before serving.

The full menu included an array of cheeses for the charcuterie board. We typically like to include 2 soft cheeses and 3 to 4 slicing cheeses. For this party, we went with a soft, creamy brie and a blueberry goat cheese. Additionally, we chose a sharp cheddar, an aged gouda, a manchego, and a piave vecchio, which is similar to a parmesan. In addition to the cheese assortment, we always add salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto. We added fresh honeycomb and raw honey, glazed pecans and walnuts, pumpkin seeds, parmesan crisps, fresh bread, breadsticks, fresh vegetable crudite (carrots, peppers, radishes), and fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and figs).

And here is the full menu of the hot appetizers Larry and I put together:

  • Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce (we served these on skewers that you could dip in the hot butter sauce)

  • Cheesy Garlic Butter Biscuits

  • Turkey & Lamb Mini Meatballs with a Cranberry Glaze

  • Cornbread Stuffing Mushrooms

  • Cheesy Brussel Sprout Toasts

  • Brie & Raspberry Tartlets

  • Sweet Potato Casserole Bites

And finally, the dessert table was full of mini brownie bites, pumpkin pie bites, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered blueberries.

It was a beautiful party, and everyone had a lovely time. It was such a wonderful way to head into the weekend, and I felt grateful to have the opportunity to host the party with Larry for his fellow residents and friends.

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