With just a few hours to go before the arrival of the first guest to the holiday soiree, you find yourself in a time crunch. You were busy with shopping, gift wrapping and cleaning the house and now are left with little time to prepare all homemade dishes for the guests.
There’s no shame in combining some store bought items with homemade dishes to save time over the holidays. In fact, 67 percent of Americans who host holiday parties serve a combination of homemade and store-bought foods, according to a recent survey by Archway Cookies. So you’re not alone in using this tactic, nor in imagining how busy you are, either. The survey also revealed that 66 percent of us will host at least one party between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with many of us attending as many parties during those five weeks as we do during the other 10 months of the year combined.
Given how busy the season can be, it makes sense for hosts (and guests) to seek ways to make holiday entertaining preparations easy and quick, but without sacrificing the homespun feel that makes the holidays special. Here are some time-saving tips for combining homemade and store bought food and refreshments for holiday celebrations:
Cookies are the No. 1 dessert eaten at Christmas, according to market research company NDP Group. More than half of us, however, (58 percent) don’t make all our own holiday cookies. We supplement homemade with store-bought cookies, according to Archway Cookies.
Whether served at your own party or given as a hostess gift to a holiday event, it’s important to ensure homemade and store-bought cookies blend harmoniously. In addition to homemade favorites, choose high-quality store-bought cookies that look, smell and even taste homemade. Equally important, select cookie varieties that evoke holiday memories, such as Archway’s holiday collection made from traditional recipes families have enjoyed for years. Archway’s holiday varieties including Wedding Cake, Cashew Nougat, Gingerbread Man (both iced or plain), Candy Cane and Snow Top. All of these varieties are baked only once a year with added touches that feel homemade such as drizzled icing, chopped walnuts and even real pieces of peppermint. When combined with homemade cookies on a platter, guests will have a hard time telling which ones are store bought.
If you’re the host, mix homemade cookies with store-bought selections on the same serving tray or cake plate then garnish serving dishes with fresh mint, cranberries or even a few small, shiny Christmas ornaments for a special homemade touch.
Store-bought cookies are also great to keep stocked up in the panty for other holiday traditions like decorating the tree, gift and cookie exchanges with book clubs, school and work parties or when enjoying a cup of coffee while catching up with friends and family.
Appetizers and side dishes
Another time saver is to supplement the main entree with store-bought appetizers and side dishes. Place store-bought foods right beside that turkey or ham you slaved over using Grandma’s time-honored recipe.
Most food stores carry large packages of ready-made appetizers, and you can often find very flavorful options that appear homemade – but that will take a fraction of the time to prepare. Cheese, veggie and fruit trays are another category in which to “cheat” and buy precut items to save hours from slicing and chopping.
To give the presentation homemade flair, transfer everything from the store packaging to your own serving plates and then garnish. Get creative with the serving dishes, too. Consider serving shrimp cocktail in flat-bottomed Asian soup spoons. Simply layer cocktail sauce on each spoon and a shrimp. Or serve mini soup appetizers in a shot glass.
With a few creative and personal touches that mix homemade and store-bought foods and desserts, you can save time on preparation and focus on enjoying the holidays with friends and family.
For more holiday cookie options to give as gifts or serve at your gatherings this season, visit archwaycookies.com.