Once upon a time, Calvin Coolidge noted that Christmas was neither a time nor a season. Christmas was a state of people’s minds.

This holiday goes beyond the fixed date and traditional festivities. Christmas is a feeling – a very special feeling that occurs to us only once in twelve months. But that is where the magic of Christmas lies.

Christmas celebration is one of very few things that keep happening year after year, but never turn into a routine. What is more, we all anticipate this celebration, regardless of our ages, professions, and hobbies.

We are awaiting the holiday since Halloween, though the Thanksgiving Day really helps us pull through November. Then, a week after Thanksgiving, kids mark the first winter day on their advent calendars. And that is when this Christmas feeling starts permeating us.

It slowly and quietly creeps into us when we wake up in the morning on December 1, and grows bigger and warmer every day. Meanwhile, shopping malls are being decorated with Xmas trees, snowmen, and reindeer. Skype is offering Xmas emojis. Santa Clause is appearing in more and more commercials.

And one Saturday you find yourself running around the house, searching for the boxes with lights, hand-made Xmas decorations, costumes, and wrapping paper. Hope you will find everything you expect to find.

Now, when you have all the holiday treasures scattering all around the living room, let’s think what you can do with them this year. Won’t you mind a few creative ideas of the celebration and dinner menu?

Check out three original ways to turn your Christmas 2018 into a beautiful and memorable friends or family party. Choose the idea you like the most, or go out of the box and combine all three of them! Just make sure you have stocked up on fresh foods, got themed décor, and gathered the dearest people around you.

Cook-It-Yourself Christmas Party

Rightfully, the very first association with the holiday is Santa Clause in a reindeer sleigh with an Xmas tree in one hand and with a huge red sack full of gifts in the other.

But the very second association is definitely a family and friends get-together. Even Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge realizes that and accepts the invitation to the festive dinner from his nephew. By the way, “A Christmas Carol” is a wonderful story to remember on December 24 and 25. The animated movie of the same name is also a great choice to watch all together, nibbling on various delectable foods.

Speaking of festive foods, you will surely need loads of them if you wish your big company to feel full and cozy. But instead of cooking all on your own, you can throw a CIY Xmas party and invite your dearest and nearest to cook the dinner together.

Firstly, you will not have to worry if there are enough good treats on the table, because your guests will bring both foods and recipes with them. Secondly, cooking together is uniting and just fun.

Make sure you have enough knives, boards, plates, and glasses. So that everyone who wants to participate in Xmas cooking has all the necessary “equipment.” Then, turn the music on. Let it be something from Christmas classic – Sinatra or Martin. And enjoy your time while cooking, chatting, and then eating as much as you wish.

If you are searching for creative culinary ideas, here are a few interesting and simple recipes.

Mini fillo pastry shells. Assorted

Two-three large boards of these tasty morsels will not leave anyone cold and hungry.

Get your favorite fillo shells and let your guests stuff them with whatever they like. But they can also check out these pairings:

  • Brie + cranberry sauce + nuts
  • Cream cheese + sun-dried tomatoes + pesto
  • Blue cheese + pork sausage + chopped spinach
  • Parmesan + Mozzarella + cream cheese + canned artichoke hearts + garlic

Plus a large bowl of Brussels Sprout-and-Chestnut Salad

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If you are going to welcome vegetarians or vegans, this salad is an especially successful culinary choice. Just check the ingredient:

  • 1 1/4 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1 c. cooked whole chestnuts
  • 1 fennel bulb (medium)
  • 4 oz. Stilton cheese
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple (large)
  • 1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves, torn
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 c. sherry vinegar
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey

And all you need to do with these ingredients is:

  1. Prepare sherry vinaigrette: whisk together shallot, sherry vinegar, mustard, and honey. Let stand for 5 min. Whisk oil in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Make sure to separate leaves into strand. Stir in chestnuts, fennel, apple, and parsley. Fold in vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 5-10 min.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.
  4. Enjoy.

“The Feast of the Seven Fishes” Style Christmas Party

This tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve comes from sunny and flavorful Italy. Serving seven (and up to twelve) seafood dishes the last evening before the holiday is still very popular among Italian Americans.

Although it is unclear when the very term “Feast of the Seven Fishes” became widely known and used, the custom of substituting red meat with fish on the eve of any holiday dates from the early Roman Catholics. That is likely from the 1st-2nd centuries AD. How this custom got to Italy is another question. But it was brought to the United States certainly by Italian immigrants.

Yet, even if no branch of your family tree leads to the homeland of Leonardo da Vinci, and if you and your guests do like seafood, why not throw a “Feast of the Seven Fishes” party this year?

The festive menu may not include only traditional Italian seafood treats. Cook something special. Something too fishy and exotic to be an everyday or even a weekend meal. Let it be a recipe you have been dreaming to bring into life for ages.

Experiment with ingredients and flavors. Your choice ranges from caviar and smoked salmon to mussels and squid, comprising myriads of gourmet combinations.

Here is a scrumptious and simple one. Try these seafood-stuffed salmon fillets.

christmas2 2018

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 fresh salmon fillets (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
  • 1 package crabmeat
  • 2 tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. long grain rice, cooked
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. Mediterranean spices
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine crabmeat, cream cheese, cooked rice, minced garlic, melted butter, crushed celery seed, spices, and salt.
  2. In each salmon fillet, cut a pocket horizontally, to within 1/2 inches of the opposite side. Fill with the mixture and secure with toothpicks. Place the stuffed fillets on a greased baking pan. Brush with oil. Sprinkle with dill weed and salt.
  3. Bake the fillets for 18-22 min. or until the fish meat flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Before serving, remove the toothpicks. Enjoy!

Warm and Cozy Christmas Picnic

Having a delicious Christmas picnic is an enticing idea, regardless of your whereabouts. If it is forecasted to be warm and dry where you are going to celebrate, throwing the holy night picnic will become a memorable get-together and culinary experience.

But even if you are a Northerner and the Xmas weather forecast predicts frost and light snow, hardly anything can prevent you and your dearest from putting on warm clothes, getting hot foods, stocking up on both hot and strong drinks, and enjoying a fabulous celebration. So, prepare a comfortable outfit and safe-to-transport treats.

Surely, it would be just great if the weather allowed you to have a cookout. Christmas BBQ must be both a practical and delicious solution. Still, you can go without it and bring all the ready foods in thermal bags.

For example, you could bake pork loin with apples and dried apricots. Cut it in chunks so you can conveniently pack it into a food container and bring the treat safe and sound to a picnic spot.

Or you could bring baked and honeyed dough rolls with Brie and prosciutto.

While you are deciding on the most convenient option, take a look at this recipe of portable, quick-to-cook, and delectable bacon-and-cheese meat loaf.

christmas3 2018

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. soft bread crumbs
  • 1/2 lb. bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrot
  • 4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chives, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add chopped onion and shredded carrot. Cook stirring until the mixture tenders. Let cool.
  2. Combine the mixture with bread crumbs, crumbled bacon strips, beaten eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add beef and mix thoroughly and lightly.
  3. In an ungreased baking dish, shape the mixture into an 8x4-in. loaf. Bake uncovered at 350°F for about 90 min.
  4. Combine crumbled blue cheese with minced sage and chives. Pat the mixture onto the meat loaf. Let stand for 10-15 min. before serving.
  5. Transfer to a platter. Take a pic. Enjoy!

Christmas is not just a time or season. Christmas is an all-embracing, mixed feeling of happiness, peace, care, fullness, and whatever you feel when sitting with your family or friends at the festive table.

Enjoy this feeling. Enjoy your time. And enjoy your Xmas meal.

Marky’s wishes you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!