Another day, another holiday party — this time of year can get a little overwhelming! Between work and family obligations, there’s always another thing to get done and another place you needed to be ten minutes ago. By this point, we’ve all done more cookie exchanges and stale potlucks than we care to remember. Why not take a break from boring cocktail parties, corporate dinners, and being nagged at by your Great-Aunt Maude to spend some time with people you enjoy on your own terms? Make this year count by planning something special and perhaps a little out of the ordinary.
Back in the day, when cars had fins and beehive hairdos seemed normal, it wasn’t uncommon to celebrate Christmas with your friends and neighbors over some boozy eggnog. This simple idea is a novelty now and easy to reproduce. All you need is a punch bowl of eggnog (store-bought is fine*), alcohol for guests to add to their glass, and maybe some kitschy appetizers. You can help set the mood with a Bing Crosby record on the turntable and a tacky apron around your waist. For the perfect retro décor and Mad Men-era barware, hit up Flamingo’s Divine Finds in south Minneapolis. This unique antique mall specializes in the best of wacky retro at surprisingly affordable prices. The store is only open during scheduled sales, so visit their website at flamingosdivinefinds.com before hopping in your car.
Not everyone has the same religious and cultural background. However, we can all agree on one thing: It’s winter. Why not celebrate that common denominator with a party welcoming the Winter Solstice on December 21st? For decorations, utilize natural elements such as evergreen sprigs, pine cones, and classic white candles. Focus on seasonally appropriate foods, such as root vegetables and squash. To learn more about traditional winter celebrations and a variety of spiritual paths, visit Magnus Books and Herbs in Dinkytown. In addition to their eclectic book selection, you can also find hard to find items such a smudge sticks and genuine frankincense and myrrh. While you are there for party prep, you may also be inspired to pick up a gift or two. (Their tarot card selection can’t be beat!)
One of the best things about the holidays is that they are an excuse to craft (as if you needed an excuse). This is the time of year where we break out the sewing machine or get our hands extra, extra gluey. You can harness that enthusiasm for everything DIY into a holiday party of your own. Invite people over to work on a project en masse and bring the sewing circle back into fashion. Or, if you’re too worn out to consider hosting anything at the moment, tell your friends to meet you at Upstairs Circus. This new business establishment in Minneapolis’ North Loop is part hands-on crafting destination, part bar. For a flat fee, you can make as many crafts off of the “project menu” as you like. Projects include everything from string art to leather work to painting your own pop art. Plus, you’ll be able to craft with a signature cocktail such as their Bubbles the Champagnzee in your hand, the very definition of holiday stress relief.
In all the hustle and bustle of holiday madness, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Spend some time with your loved ones, celebrate however works best for you, and know that everything will be fine in the end. It isn’t a contest and you (yes you!) are allowed to have some fun along the way.
*Editor’s Note: Although store-bought eggnog is fine, we recommend this recipe from Chris Maynard’s and Bill Scheller’s The Bad For You Cookbook (1992).
10 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar, powdered or superfine
1 quart heavy cream
1 750 milliliter bottle of cognac (VS will do nicely)
1 1/2 cups rum, dark if you prefer a heartier eggnog
2 cups milk
freshly ground nutmeg
Beat egg whites and sugar until foamy, almost at the soft peak stage. Beat yolks in a separate bowl until they drip from the beater in a thick, bright yellow ribbon. Now pour the egg white mixture into the yolks and beat with an electric mixer until nicely combined, about 3 minutes.
Using the bowl you will serve the eggnog in, beat the cream until it barely holds soft peaks. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly add the beaten egg mixture, then the cognac, rum and milk. Garnish with nutmeg, and chill for 4 hours. If eggnog appears thicker at the top before serving, stir gently just before serving.
By Liz Walker