Tumbling temperatures, falling leaves, and the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes can mean one thing: holiday dinner party season is fast approaching.
Unfortunately, the season to eat, drink, and be merry can be stressful — especially as parents of young children. With kids in the mix, holiday dinner parties can come with the additional challenges of creating a kid-friendly menu, space, and ambiance.
But that’s no reason to succumb to hiring a babysitter all holiday season long every time you want to entertain. To host a superb holiday dinner party that enchants both your mature and younger guests, follow these guidelines:
Before you start planning your menu, reach out to guests about any allergies or food restrictions. While you shouldn’t drive yourself crazy trying to accommodate every single one of your guests’ and children’s food preferences, it’s nice to be able to offer everyone at least one dish that isn’t a dressing-less salad.
In anticipation for your younger guests, stock up on kid-friendly essentials. Equip your guest bathroom with diapers and wipes. For young guests that get hungry pre- or post-meal, stock your kitchen with kid-friendly snacks — think simple finger foods, like mini-grilled cheese slices, fruit wands, and popcorn.
Preparing your home for a party with tiny guests may take a little more forethought than an adults-only event. With adults, your instincts may be to set up a self-serve buffet illuminated by glittering candles. But if kids are in attendance, hot plates of food and candles can become major safety hazards.
Make your party space kid-friendly by skipping the buffet and opting to serve your guests yourself. Alternatively, you can arrange a buffet blocked-off area such as the kitchen, where parents can take charge of filling their kids’ and own plates. Swap candles for table lamps and glassware for plastic, and baby-proof hazards like exposed electrical outlets and sharp furniture.
Don’t be afraid to delegate duties to fellow parents in attendance. Request that guests bring drinks, as well as kid-friendly side dishes and desserts to share. On the night of the event, don’t turn away any offers to help: set guests up with tasks like distributing appetizers, playing DJ, or slicing up lime wedges for cocktails.
As a dinner party host, your instincts may be to go fancy. Ornamental hors d’oeuvres and hard-to-pronounce entrees may impress your adult guests but estrange your pickier young guests.
Instead, show off your culinary prowess by taking a gourmet spin on kid-friendly classics. Try the recipe below, which gives a familiar dish — spaghetti and meatballs — a healthy, flavorful upgrade.
Preheat oven to 375-degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients, beat the egg. Add the chopped spinach, scallions, and garlic. Stir until evenly combined.
Add the ground turkey, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and breadcrumbs.
Using your hands, mix until evenly combined. Shape the mixture into half- to one-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the meatballs until golden brown on top. This should take about 15 minutes.
Boil water and cook pasta. At the same time, heat the tomato sauce in a large pan on the stovetop. Add the broiled meatballs and simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked.
Between baby-proofing your house, cooking, and keeping kiddos entertained, you may not feel like you have a lot of time left over for eating, drinking, and being merry yourself. Hiring a personal chef to cater your party may be worth every cent if it lets you relax and spend time with your guests and kids.
If you’re planning a holiday dinner party, we invite you to get in touch with My Sweet Beet. We can team you up with one of our professional chefs, who can handle everything from planning the menu to handpicking ingredients to post-dinner cleanup. On the night of your party, your private chef can whip up custom, delicious kid- and adult-friendly dishes in your kitchen as you celebrate the holidays with your friends and family.