Leisure Features

At Home for the Holidays

The traditional family-and-friends holiday party is likely to look a bit different this year, but it’s still possible to make it memorable. Whether you are keeping things simple with a small family group or connecting with friends online, there are many ways to spice up pared-down gatherings and come together over good food and drink.

Emily Gavilsky, owner of Emily Anna Events, notes that smaller celebrations offer lots of opportunities for creativity and personalization. She says using a caterer or restaurant for your party edibles is a real win-win: They appreciate your business during a challenging time, and you get to pick your favorite delicacies without all the cooking and cleanup. “Companies like Olive + Oak and 23 City Blocks Catering are offering services for small groups,” she says. “I love the idea of local Zoom party guests ordering food for pickup or delivery and enjoying it together while socializing online.”

Gavilsky says another festive concept is having your virtual party guests design and discuss their own margarita flavors. “Everyone shares their recipes online, guests view each other’s concoctions and vote for their favorite idea, and the winner gets a gift card,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun to experiment with different taste combinations.” Or, she says, you can stage a cooking challenge: Guests receive a list of three or four ingredients ahead of time, and each creates a dish made from them.

Lanikai Lindsey, food and beverage director at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, says this year’s more intimate celebrations are a great excuse to break out the fine china and glassware you rarely use. “Creating a beautiful setting will elevate your meal and make the celebration feel extra special,” he says.

And if you enjoy cooking, you can up the ante with fancy fixings from your own kitchen. “Serve Cornish game hens, roasted chicken or seafood instead of a turkey or leg of lamb,” he suggests. “Side dishes can help you create a theme, like beans and rice or charred vegetables for a South American twist, or macaroni and cheese with greens for a Southern meal. One of my favorite holiday drinks is coffee made with Baileys Irish Cream, vanilla vodka, half-and-half, whipped cream, and cinnamon or nutmeg as a garnish.”

Lindsey says meals can bring loved ones together whether they are meeting in person or not. “We learn about each other through our food preferences,” he says. “This is the year to embrace connections with those closest to us. Take time to find out what foods these people enjoy most over the holidays. A shared meal strengthens relationships.”

kringle mingle
If your kids are still hoping for a visit with the Jolly Old Elf himself, consider signing them up for a virtual experience from St. Louis-based Kringle Mingle (kringleminglefun.com). Youngsters can enjoy prerecorded messages and interactive video experiences with Santa as well as photos, ornaments, activity packs and other fun keepsakes shipped to your home.

Drink photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

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