While there are plenty of beloved holiday traditions in Texas, celebrating with the family and friends gathered ‘round has no rules or rubric. Entertaining can be as classic, casual, off-the-cuff, or over-the-top crazy as desired! Over the years, however, I’ve noticed that some of the best “parties” around have a couple things in common, namely a welcoming porch light that stays on late and loads of good food and drink. It’s just that easy to entertain Texas style and today I’m sharing five ways to light the hearts and fill the bellies of your guests.
Gussied Up Sweet Tea
Quench guests’ thirst with the unofficial, non-alcoholic beverage of Texas — sweet tea! Make a stunning (but incredibly simple) ice ring by lining a gelatin mold or Bundt pan with citrus slices, cranberries and mint and then filling with a half-half mixture of lemonade and ginger ale. Freeze the night before and loosen under a spigot of warm water before plopping into a punch bowl of tea.
Post-Thanksgiving, people are plenty tired of turkey. Show good taste by serving up mouthwatering, meaty beef at any winter season shindig. The menu choices are endless, from a show-stopping standing rib roast to a comforting casserole like lasagna. Grilled Cranberry-Orange Flank Steak, a quick fix that’s dressed up with a citrusy marinade and compote topping that reminiscent of cranberry relish. Even a batch of authentic beef tamales is sure to fuel Santa for a busy night!
Chili “Chill Out”
A hot, hearty pot of beef chili is always a winner for impromptu holiday entertaining. When company decides to extend the visit, friends drop by with season’s greetings, or the collegiate football bowl game has drawn a crowd in the living room, lay out a buffet of chili toppings (like shredded cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, tortilla chips and more) to serve with this no-fuss, fast-to-disappear Lone Star Chili.
Send guests home with a party favor to remember the occasion, nothing expensive or excessive, but just a little something that personalizes the festivities. When serving steaks, mini mason jars can be used to divvy up a batch of the steak rub — then tie up with a bow and include with the recipe. Apply the same idea to roast rubs, chili seasonings, brisket cures and more.
Ace The Place Setting
Give even a low-key gathering a celebratory lift by doing a little extra with the place settings. Again, nothing super fancy necessary and no need to be a Pinterest prodigy. A 5-minute idea is to arrange a few sprigs of rosemary and holly in a ribbon-wrapped tin can, toss a few Texas pecans on a plate and stuff utensils into a mini stocking.