It has been a couple days since this year’s White Elephant party – it’s finally time for a wrap-up! Denis and I spent two days prepping for the party, and had it not been for our outdoor Christmas lights blowing a fuse about 45 minutes before the first guest arrived, we TOTALLY would have been ready on time. As it was. we ended up scrambling in the last 30 minutes to get stuff out and ready. It happens every year. *lol* Fortunately, we were still ready by the time the first guest arrived.
Food we ended up serving (GF=gluten free):
1. Shrimp cocktail and sauce (GF) – easy peasy. Cold shrimp with a dipping sauce. We had about 80 shrimp on the plate and by the end of the night there were only half a dozen left. Talk about easy!
2. BBQ – we pulled some of our pulled pork BBQ from the freezer, mixed in some hickory-smoked sauce. Good stuff.
3. Hawaiian meatballs (GF) – we’ve done this over the years. It’s a simple recipe that allows us to put meatballs in a warmer and let people get them at their leisure. Hawaiian meatballs have a pineapple glaze that is yummy. We made them gluten-free by using gluten-free bread crumbs as the binder.
4. Tomato meatballs (GF) – – more meatballs, but with a tomato-based sauce instead.
5. Pumpkin butter/brie wheel (hot) (not GF) – This was a really easy hors d’oeurves with brie wrapped in puff pastry. The kicker is the addition of pumpkin butter to add an extra flavor to it. This was GONE by the end of the night.
6. Tomato/pesto bruschetta (not GF) – we make this every year. It’s a given that we’ll be serving it.
7. Lemon/Thyme bruschetta (not GF) – we always make two kinds of bruschetta, and this was our second kind this year. I heard good comments about it!
8. Spinach and avocado stuffed Mushrooms (hot) (GF) – Denis makes stuffed mushrooms every year but this year he changed up the recipe by doing a spinach/avocado filling. They looked great, and I believe people liked them.
9. Curried chicken balls (cold) (GF) – these were the biggest hit of the night. People were gushing about them and it’s the only thing that I had people come up to me to ask for more, rather than wait for them to come around a second time. They are REALLY easy to make, and tasted great.
10. Philly cheesesteak bites (hot) (not GF) – these bites were a last minute addition and were great. Mix onions and peppers, a piece of steak and some melted cheese and put them in a fillo cup. Heat for 5 minutes and serve. YUM.
11. Sweet and spicy potato soup (hot) (GF) – last year I made a soup that went over really well, so this year we decided to do another kind. This time we made a sweet potato soup. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you like it), I made the soup really spicy by adding a bit too much cayenne. However, the overly-hot soup still had a great sweetness to it, and I think it went over well.
12. Lobster rolls (cold) (not GF) – Just what it says. Yummy lobster served on King’s Hawaiian rolls. They were big because we couldn’t get bite-sized rolls, but delicious.
13. Coconut Shrimp (hot) (GF) – I was worried about having to prep this in advance and serve later in the day, but it worked out perfectly. At the end of the food service, when everyone was stuffed and unable to eat any more, we had people requesting “just one more” more of this.
14. Crab meltaways (hot) (not GF) – this is an oldie but a goodie. I make this every few years. What’s funny is that the night of the party we could not find the container ANYwhere – we searched high and low. However, my friend Lori made an off the cuff comment, “Did you put them in the freezer accidently?” and I realized that YES! I had! Because that’s what you are SUPPOSED to do. Crisis averted.
15. Cheese/Watermelon (cold) (GF) – this was a random one that I wasn’t sure about, but people loved. Watermelon isn’t really a winter food, but we had a lot people express happy surprise when they took a bite of the olive-oil infused watermelon stacked on a thick piece of greek helios mandouri cheese.
16. Cheese stuffed Brussels sprouts (hot) (GF) – this was a new one and I don’t know that we’ll make this one again. Not enough people like brussel sprouts. *lol*
17. Bacon/brie rollups (hot) (not GF) – our only bacon dish this year (shocking). When we finally served it, one of the guests came rushing over to say, “FINALLY you brought out the bacon!” He said it was delicious and I did hear a lot of others say they liked it, so we’ll probably make it again.
Once the food portion of the evening was done, it was time for the White Elephant game. We had 25 participants because a few of our guests had to leave for other engagements. This year we put our tree in the TV room hoping that the layout would enable a more social engaging game (unless like last year where the people in the back of the gathering started having their own party because they couldn’t hear or see what was going on near the tree. For the most part, the new location worked, although one person was stuck on one side of the tree unable to see the other side. But I think for the most part, other than a few changes, we’ll do the same set-up next year. But next year I’ll set up the chairs so that we can have a couple rows with short chairs in front and tall bar chairs in back. That way everyone can see. Of course, in addition to the folks who had to leave early, we had 12 people cancel at the last moment so if we end up with EVERYONE next year, we’ll still have issues even with the new layout. *lol*
The gifts were hilarious. Scary clown dolls, furry bats with 8-foot wingspans, a pipe in the shape of a Chinese dragon – just to name a few – all made an appearance. We only had a couple re-gifts this year. A bowling pin returned (it was brought about 5-6 years ago), and one of the scary clowns was a re-gift as well.
Once the game was over, that signaled the end of the party and by 11:30 p.m. the house was empty and we were ready for bed. As guests left, we passed out our gift. In year’s past we gave away containers of homemmade cookies, but this year we were a bit more posh. We had cookbooks printed that featured about 25 recipes that we’ve used at the party over the 16 years that we have hosted the party. Everyone was really surprised at the unexpected surprise. We have cookbooks leftover since we had cancellations, and so we’ve saved a list of those who didn’t make it this year so that they can get a book next year.
In any event, we believe everyone had a great time – I know we had a blast hosting it, as always.
On to next year’s event!