1. Have fun having a good time. You set the tone for a joyful holiday event. If you cannot find a way to have fun while planning and throwing a party for your nearest and dearest, DON'T--call a caterer or meet your loved ones out for drinks.
2. Simple is best. If you're throwing a party for 12 or 200, keep your food and cocktail choices simple. Get creative with a single element of a dish or beverage to give it a special twist and that's it. Use the best ingredients you can reasonably afford, treat them with love, and your guests will thank you.
3. Plan ahead. Seriously, even a last minute holiday party requires a timeline. Make a list, be realistic, and stick to it. Holiday cheer is greeting your guests at the door, not sweating through your shirt cooking hors d'oeuvres as they arrive.
4. Lighting, lighting, lighting. The holidays are about warmth and sparkle. Invest in a lots of unscented candles (scented ones spoil the tastes and aromas of food), indirect lighting, dimmer switches, whatever you can. Set a comfortable mood, that's what your guests want.
5. Recruit. If you need help, ask. Give your boyfriend or girlfriend a reasonable 'to-do' list and remember to show your gratitude to them -- in as many ways as you can. Also, on the day of, enlist your most punctual friend. You know who that is. Ask for his or her help putting out snacks or lighting candles.
Cocktail Recipe: The French 75
Named for a French artillery piece from WWI, this refined cocktail has enough sparkle and kick to take you through the holidays and into the New Year. It was developed at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, and first published in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930.
1 oz. premium gin
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup (or 2 tsp. superfine sugar)
Brut Champagne or dry sparkling wine
Lemon twist, for garnish
In an ice filled cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled champagne glass. Top gin mixture with Champagne. Garnish, serve, enjoy.
To read more from Bobby Lea, or book him to cater your event, go to TinyKitchenWestHollywood.com.