5 Tips to Help You Rock the Holiday Dinner Party | Seafood Edition
The candles are lit. The smell of Frasier Fir is in the air. The wood fire is burning, and the wine is decanting.
But if you're throwing a dinner party, there's a lot more to it than traditional holiday smells and decorations. You're probably planning bites, table settings, cooking times, and if you're on my blog, I'm going to guess some seafood is in the cards!
With heavy commitments during the holidays, it's easy to spend nonsensically, throw environmentally-friendly practices out the window, and find yourself in a last-minute scramble. So here are a few tips to help you throw a holiday party that's the talk of the town, while equally staying conscious of costs and unnecessary waste.
1. Source your seafood like a champ, and do it in advance (AKA: now!).
If you're ordering seafood for 1 or 2-day shipping, most websites will allow you to purchase seafood ahead of time and choose your delivery date. This is so convenient! If you're ordering oysters, they'll keep in the fridge for a couple weeks at least, so you're in the clear if you place your arrival date a couple days before your party to be safe.
Savings tips on seafood:
- A little goes a long way. You don't have to buy a ton of seafood to dazzle guests. For shellfish, my rule of thumb is to have 3-6 oysters available per guest. If you're doing caviar, a couple bumps per person is enough to create a memory! One bump of caviar is about 6-7 grams, and there are 28 grams in one ounce. Two ounces would cover a party of 4-5 people, and so on. Hot tip on caviar: Osetra, Siberian, and White Sturgeon will be more expensive. If you're on a budget, opt for Spoonbill or Bowfin (Bowfin is less available in winter but can still be sourced). Most people rarely have caviar, so any roe is exciting.
- Doing small bites is a great way to stretch something like smoked salmon! Throw a little on a cracker with some dill and cream cheese.
- If you're doing a sit-down dinner, keep it family style! Mussels and crusty bread are super easy and cost-effective. Other ideas are a pasta alle vongole, or a seafood paella in a big cast iron pan.
- Sign up for that first-time discount code when ordering. It really counts with seafood costs!
2. Send out an e-vite.
Even if it's just with family, sending out an invitation is a great way to create excitement, especially during the holidays. Most people love a little fancy dress! Sequins, funny hats, the infamous ugly sweater, go on. It's a party, after all.
3. DIY on the Christmas cracker.
We're all adults here, so let's talk about the Christmas cracker. Most of the time this is a purely decorative addition to the table because the games inside are kitchy, full of microplastics, and will be tossed minutes after opening.
Change that narrative! Embellish the table, but do so with a DIY Christmas cracker set. They are inexpensive, like this one I bought on Amazon, and instead of little games, how about chocolates or a digestif? At my house, I buy little cognac nips and stuff them into the crackers, opting for the ones in glass bottles over plastic options.
4. Break out your grandma's silver, china, brass, or crystal.
When else are you going to use it? Dust off the old champagne glasses, the small plates, the brass ornaments. Let your family's generational obsession with tablewares shine. It saves you buying anything new and adds to the flair that a holiday party deserves. Besides, it'll make your family members smile.
If you DID want to spend a little on a detail that your friends and family will never forget, check out my shellfish cutlery line.
Savings tip on linens:
If you already have Christmas linens, that's great! Purchasing napkins, tablecloths, and placemats can add up for a larger party, so my best recommendation is to find sets that you can use for more than one season. I have a set of red and white-striped linen napkins that work perfectly for the holiday table and can be used just as equally for outdoor summer parties.
5. Accept that your friends want to bring something when they offer, and give thought to a pairing.
Most of the time, we either decline this gesture or tell our friends to bring whatever they'd like to drink. If you're hosting a dinner party and a friend wants to bring a bottle, accept their generosity and give them ideas! They can purchase something at whatever price point, but this certainly helps align with whatever you're cooking.
If you're serving shellfish, offer up ideas like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, a dry Champagne/Prosecco, or a nice Pinot Noir. For beer, try wheat beers and stouts. In the sake realm, a floral, dry junmai would be perfect. If they'd like to bring a spirit, a gin or whiskey gives you plenty to work with.
Party on, oyster lovers! I cannot wait to see your dinner tables and festive cheer on social media. Enjoy the holiday season and have a smashing start to 2024.