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The age of grammable food is upon us and the holidays is an opportunity not to be missed. The below guide will help you become a GREAT host by keeping your your guests wined and dined. Or better yet, a star guest who contributes to the platter or drinks fridge!
Platters and Grazing Boards
Platters are an easy way to provide nibbles for your guests. They can be as simple or fancy as you want, and there is little to no cooking involved which makes prep super easy!
Just gather your ingredients, lay them out and boom, food sorted.
A Degustation Guide
1) Cheese - my go-to combo is one soft (like Camembert or Brie), one hard (like a smoked cheddar or gouda) and one funky (blue cheese… I’m looking at you). For a sweeter twist, find a wheel of cream cheese filled with nuts and dried fruit!
Tip: It's always a good idea to buy an additional wheel of Camembert for a bigger group, it's a popular choice and always goes first.
2) Crackers and bread - it’s not a platter without some carb-y goodness. The thin wafer crackers are great (and far superior to plain water crackers IMO), and so are oat crackers which are buttery and great on their own. You can never have too much bread and crackers in my experience… the more people drink, the faster the crackers go (regardless if there is cheese left or not).
Tip: to cater for smaller groups, look for the special 'cheese-board' selections to get you a great variety on your platter without buying lots of different products.
3) Meat – some pâté, salami or prosciutto never hurts on a platter (unless all your guests are vego). However, they can be pretty pricey so if your budget is limited I would say this is an optional extra.
4) Dips – hummus and other dips are a great (and affordable) way to bulk out the platter, and it means you can have less cheeses but still feed a crowd. Pop a few handfuls of tortilla chips or bread next to the dips.
Other extras – grapes, sliced apple and pear, nuts and fruit paste or preserves are all wonderful additions to a platter. You don’t need a lot of these extras, because a little goes a long way into elevating your grazing board to the next level!
Make It Festive
BYO is great, but why not take it an extra step to impress?
My Top Drink Suggestions
1) Sangria - a great combo of wine, juice and fruit. You will find my favourite recipe for Rosé sangria here.
2) Pimms - Pimms, soda and lemon. An absolute classic!
3) Spirit & Mixer Lab - buy a range of spirits and lay them out with mixers such as lemon lime and bitters, lemonade, tonic water, sliced lemons and plenty of ice!
It’s a great way to ease into drinking, and everyone can summon their inner master mixologist.
4) Prosecco Cranberry Fizz - Give champagne's far more affordable Italian cousin a festive twist. Top it up with some cranberry juice and pop a few frozen cranberries in each glass to keep your drinks cool and christmasy.
5) Candy Cane Infused Vodka - Nothing screams Christmas more than peppermint candy canes. This simple recipe with Vanilla Vodka, will be sure to impress.
Healthier Drink Options
1) Spirit Sodas - Mix spirits with soda water and a squeeze of lemon for the cheapest option.
2) Low Sugar RTD's - If you’re looking for a ‘healthier’ alcoholic beverage, my recommendation is to look for drinks low in sugar. This can be tricky since alcohol doesn’t need to have a nutrition information panel, but I think you can guess which ones won't pass the test (sorry Cruisers).