We are fomenting a full-blown winter holiday frenzy right now. I stood in line at the post office yesterday, with my arms full of brown paper packages, although the USPS frowns on them being tied up with string these days. I stirred up a bucket o’Chex Mix yesterday, mixed up some fudge the day before, and the day before that I unearthed the ancestral Gingersnaps recipe, and rolled out a few dozen cookies. We are ticking off the boxes of the old and the familiar, hoping to bring a little cheer to the COVID world we inhabit.
For most of my career I have worked from home. Before COVID, I was merely a freelancer; now there is a Twitter-worthy acronym for it: WFH. My job was not trendy or aspirational, then. Between freelance gigs I did have a five-year stint working full time at the local daily newspaper, which was not the cinematic Ron Howard stuff of Hollywood dreams, although it did result in nightmares about missed deadlines which still jolt me awake. Night terrors and deadlines aside, I think we all enjoyed the office parties. Colleagues can become so reasonable, and human, when they are scarfing down a slice of cake. Folks who were otherwise taciturn, and weird, were positively garrulous waxing poetical about their homemade meatballs, or their artichoke dip. Homemade food brought out everyone’s humanity. I really miss going to parties. I’d make it a point now to even talk to the loud cops’ reporter or the squirrelly accountant from circulation, if given the chance.
If I was going to have an office party today I wouldn’t try for fancy canapés. I would prepare finger foods that everyone loves, but rarely make at home. Some foods need to be eaten by a crowd. A single serving of pigs-in-a-blanket looks very sad and lonely. But add some deviled eggs, a few sausage balls, a fistful of Christmas cookies and a fortifying cup of eggnog, I think you will find a winter celebration party that is going in full swing.
Get out a tablecloth, spring for some cocktail napkins, stock up on eggnog. There are lots of holiday playlists on Spotify and Pandora. Keep some baking sheets warming in the oven so you don’t run low, and arrange some chafing dishes on the dining room table. This is not just another Zoom cocktail party, after all. Invite a few of your WFH pals (who are responsibly vaxxed and boosted) over to enjoy a socially distant winter solstice holiday party. Mask up, but dig out a Santa hat and some Christmas ornament earrings. (Hide the mistletoe!) Party on.
Crowd pleasers in perpetuity- Deviled Eggs: https://themodernproper.com/deviled-eggs
This is also what we make ahead of time to have on Christmas morning- Sausage Balls: https://www.pauladeen.com/recipe/sausage-balls/
Sometimes my children would forget their manners, and would stand in front of the Pigs-in-a-blanket platter and graze: https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/mini-crescent-dogs/e8abc84e-8a0e-42d6-ae7e-23b677a161ac
One of my art directors made this for every single party – she always went home with the crock pot licked clean: https://bellyfull.net/grape-jelly-meatballs/
Crock pots were big in our department- Spinach Artichoke Dip: https://www.asouthernsoul.com/crock-pot-spinach-artichoke-dip/
Christmas demands Red Velvet cupcakes: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/red-velvet-cupcakes-with-coconut-and-cream-cheese-frosting
“A party without cake is just a meeting”