Relaxed and informal by design, an open house is a great way to entertain a large group during the holidays. Since friends and neighbors can arrive at their convenience within a wide timeframe, it's easy to find a date that works for the majority of your guests. And by staggering their arrival times, you'll have ample opportunity to visit and catch up.
We designed our open house around a simple yet delicious menu of cookies and eggnog. Amanda Michael, owner of San Francisco's Jane Restaurant offers up a few of her favorite cookie recipes — plus her best tips on baking and serving. To accompany the cookies, our own Audrey Gerber and Clay Ide share two of their favorite family eggnog recipes. Nostalgic decorations and serving pieces evoke fond memories of childhood Christmases.
Choose a range of cookies in different styles, including bar cookies, drop cookies and rolled cookies. Make sure to include a mix of flavors so there's something for everyone. You don't want all chocolate cookies — or only cookies with nuts.
Select several beverages to accompany the cookies. Eggnog is a classic choice for a holiday party. Other options include mulled cider, pitchers of cold milk, hot cocoa, coffee, tea and sparkling water.
To simplify preparation, prepare the cookie dough in advance and freeze or refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
To keep things easy, you can also bake and freeze the cookies ahead of time, then defrost and re–crisp them on the day of the party. Follow these steps to ensure that the cookies stay fresh and delicious:
As a unique parting gift for your guests, present each with a mason jar filled with layers of the dry ingredients needed to make one of the cookies you have served that day, like Amanda Michael's Ginger Cookies. Use a ribbon to attach the recipe to the jar.