When I was in high school my friends and I got together every year for a party we called 'Friend Christmas'. Instead of having to purchase gifts for all of the girlies in our circle we did a Secret Santa exchange. The sleepover was a highlight of the Christmas holidays, one full of gossip and cookies. This year I decided to get together the girls again for a grown up version of Friend Christmas - a light cocktail style party to start around 8:30 pm. To host this Secret Santa Soiree for you and your girlfriends,
Invites: Send out elegant and simple invites in Santa colors: bright red and snow white. In order to assign guests a secret Santa have them RSVP by a certain date. Once the RSVPs are in, make a list of your invitees and put their names into a hat. Have your roommate pull the names until each friend has a secret Santa. Double check to ensure that all secret Santas know one another, then personally call each girl to let them know who they're shopping for. If the party is like mine and will be with a group of friends who have known each other for several years, include the oldest group photo you have in the invitation's envelope. Its a nostalgic touch that's bound to have everyone smiling.
Menu: In most groups of girlfriends there are always a handful of vegetarians so make a meat free menu that's pleasing to all palates. A lack of meat doesn't translate to a lack of flavor so serve appetizers jam packed with taste. Small finger foods are totally female friendly. Begin with a crostini with an assortment of yummy toppings: baked apple and brie, winter squash, olive tapenade, and wild mushrooms. Plates of a variety of cookies (classic chocolate chip, chewy gingerbread, oatmeal scotchies) and white chocolate peppermint bark will tide over everyone's sweet tooth.
Decorations: If you have time (and the skills) make a festive red and white candy cane like table cloth. Choose a simple white cloth from your local fabric store and sew red satin ribbon to create a peppermint swirl print. Don't know how to drive a sewing machine? Pick out some red velvet or satin material to create a runner down the middle of the white cloth. Place the cookies and toasts on silver serving platters and stylish arrange-buffet style- on your table. Vases of poinsettias and red and silver taper candles complete the look. Small silver plates and silver napkins that can be found at party stores save you from having to do the dishes after the party.
Music: I know I've said it before and I'll say it again: create a play list with your favorite holiday hits. Also have a mix of your latest favs on hand if you and the girls feel like dancing later in the night. You did it when you were fifteen at the sleepovers so why not have some music ready just in case? If you catch yourself getting overwhelmed with all of the details: delegate! Ask your music savvy girlfriend to create a play list for the party. When guests comment on the musical selection give her the credit for compiling such an amazing potpourri of songs.
Drinks: Offer one white wine, one red wine, and one light beer. My picks: 2005 Navarro Vineyards Mendocino Old Vine Cuvee Chenin Blanc, 2004 Fattoria di Basciano Chianti Rufina, and Heinken Light respectively. Offer one of the two dessert cocktails: Orange Jewel Martinis or Creme Brulee Martinis and make a big batch before the ladies arrive.