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THE BAYTOWN SUN Wednesday, December 1, 1' 1-B OF cMOUTH Successful Holiday Parties Begin With Thoughtful Planning By SHERRI CARVER The Christmas season is here. Time to trim the tree and enjoy good food and the company of good friends! Time for parties! "Planning is the most important secret to giving a good party," says Sue Helbig of Baytown. Jn addition to keeping up with a lull schedule of classes at Lee College and a 14-year-old son, Ms. Helbig also finds time to give parties and cater for others. Learning to give a good party takes practice, she says, and she gives these hints for making this year's party the best ever. "The first thing to decide is what kind of party you're going to have," she says. Will it be formal or casual? A large group or just a few friends? The larger and more formal the party will be, the more planning is involved. "The next thing to consider is who to ask and what to serve," she says. Try to get i\ good mix of people, close friends and interesting a q u a i n t a n c e s . Remember, it's the people who make the party. So many parties are being given this time of year that it's important to give guests ample notice, so they can arrange their schedules. For a small party, says Ms. HeJbig, it's perfectly acceptable to notify guests by phone. Larger parties may need written invitations and perhaps an R.S.V.P. "Store-bought" invitations can cost a pretty penny, and Mrs. Helbig offers these alternatives: • Send invitations on postcards. For the price of the postage, the card comes free. Use a pretty Christmas seal for decoration. • Photocopy invitations. Plan two invitations on each page. Draw some holly or a Christmas wreath and add the necessary information. Photocopy and cut the invitations apart. Color the decorations with felt markers, fold in half and staple, add a stamp and mail. Cost is only 5 cents plus the price of postage. "When deciding what to serve, you have to remember that you can't plan things that all have to be done at the same time," she says. "Try to do as much as you can beforehand. Take into account your facilities — if you have one oven you can't serve six hot things." "It's important not to over plan," says Ms. Helbig. "Don't do more than youwa,nt to." While some may love to spend hours in the kitchen, others may opt for simple dishes that take a minimum of preparation. When planning the menu, she suggests using a good cookbook. "You don't even need to buy one," she says. "There are hundreds available at the library. "You can just kill yourself trying to get everything together," she says. For a large party, ask a friend to help. If in spite of best efforts, some special dish doesn't come out the way it's planned, don't panic. "Unless it's burned beyond recognition," she says, "go ahead and serve it anyway. It still tastes as good. And never tell! "If the souffle falls, tell them it's cheese pie. What you eat is not so important — it's the people who make you have fun." Unless otherwise notified, good manners are the only thing a guest need bring to a party, she says. Mrs. Helbig offers these party ideas: • A traditional tree-trimming party • A Christmas cookie exchange Make Special Foods, Drinks For Festive, Hungry Friends Party planning need not involve lots of time in the kitchen or expensive ingredients. Following are a list of simple but elegant re 'ipes for punches and snacl.s gleaned from Tho Sun recipe files: PILGRIM'S PROGRESS PUNCH 2 16-ounce jars cranberry juice 1 32-ounce can pineapple juice 1 32-ounce bottle lemon lime drink Mix chilled liquids !'i'j;»! ice ring on top. For spirited punch, omit lemon- lime cirink and add 13 ounces of 80 proof vodka. PINA COLADA PUNCH 1 32-ounce can pineapple juice 1 10-ouncc can coconut creme (available at liquor stores) 1 32-ounce bottle lemon-lime drink l quart pineapple sherbet Blend chilled liquids. Float sherbet on top. For spirited punch, omit lemon- lime drink and add 12 ounces of light rurn and 2 cups of water. CIDER WASSAIL BOWL 3 tablespoons light corn syrup 3 tablespoons sugar V 4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 8 lady apples or 5 small red cooking apples 3 quarts apple cider 1 lemon, thinly sliced 4 cimmamon sticks 12 whole cloves Heat corn syrup in a small pun. Combine sugar and ground cinnamon in a shallow dish. Wash and dry apples. Roll each in hot syrup, then in sugar mixture. Arrange in a baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees until partially cooked, about 15 minutes. Apples should not lose their shape. In a large pan, mix together apple cider, lemon, cinnamon slicks and cloves. Let stand 3d minutes. Then heat mixture over very low heat to just below the boiling point. Before serving, strain out spices and add cooked apples. Serve piping hot. For spirited wassail, add 1 quart sauterne. HAM PIN-WHEELS 6 slices boiled ham 6 green onions 1 3-ounce package cream cheese Toothpicks Let cream cheese warm to room temperature. Spread mix- .ture on boiled ham slices. Cut green onions, including tops, to the length of ham slices. Place one onion on the end of each ham slice and roll up. Place toothpicks through rolls every '/ 4 inch. Refrigerate I to 2 hours. Slice between toothpicks and serve. Variation: Mix 1 can of minced clams (drained) with cream cheese and \-> teaspoon garlic salt. Spread and slice, omitting onion. LIVERWURST DIP 1 pound liverwurst 1 onion, grated 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle 1 tablespoon sharp prepared mustard 1 cup sour cream Salt and pepper to taste Mash liverwurst and thin with sour cream. Add remaining ingredients and whip until creamy. Serve with chips, crackers or fresh raw vegetables. BLUE CHEESE DIP \'c. pound sharp blue cheese 1 cup sour cream I meduim-sized onion, grated 1 teaspoon black pepper Mix all ingredients together and whip until creamy. Serve with fresh raw vegetables, crackers or bread sticks. HAMMED-U^ .MU.JIROOMS 4 dozen medium-sized mushrooms 3 tablespoons butter 2 cups ground ham ',2 cup sour cream Vi teaspoon salt y.i teaspoon pepper Bread crumbs Parmesan cheese Wash mushrooms and remove stems. Saute caps in butter. Mix together ground ham. mushroom stems, sour cream, salt ar;.1 pepper. Stuff caps and refrigt.' ate. Just ''C-fore serving, sprinkle stuffeu caps with bread crumbs and cl.< • ,e. Heat at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. — arrange for each guest to bring a few dozen cookies made from' their favorite recipe. Lay out all the cookies and allow guests to refill their bags with choosings from the spread. • A wine and cheese open house • A Christmas brunch • A traditional Christmas meal — the hostess provides the meat and g> ists bring a favorite, vegetable, bread, drink or dessert. • A Christmas caroling party — call a church and get a list of their "shut-ins." Or go to a nursing home. "Traditionally, the carolers are invited in for punch and cookies," says Mrs. Helbig, "but why not bring them cookies?" • For only the most organized — an "everyone cooks" party. Best for a small group. Have enough recipes for everyone. Gather all the utensils, ingredients, pots and pans for each dish beforehand, and decide the order in which things need to be made. Allow each guest to select a recipe and let them work in shifts. While one group is working in the kitchen, others can set the table or simply enjoy the good company. SUE HELBIG glances through recipe books when she begins planning a party for the holidays. (Sun staff photo by Sherri Carver) PARTY DHJNKS should appeal to all tastes. Best Hosts Keep Al! Guests Safe JAPANESE RUM AKI % pound chicken livers 1 6'/^-ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained Vfe pound bacon Vfe cup soy sauce 1 small clove garlic, mashed 1 small, dried hot chili pepper, crushed 6 thin slices peeled, fresh ginger hot Chinese mustard (optional) Toothpicks Wash and drain livers. Cut in halves. Fold each piece of liver around a water chestnut, wrap with a slice of bacon and carefully fasten with toothpicks. Mix together soy sauce, garlic, pepper and ginger. Marinate liver bundles in this sauce for several hours, turning occasionally. Place appetizers in a shallow pan and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, turning once. Serve hot, with hot Chinese mustard if desired. You've decided to give a pariy. You want your guests to enjoy themselves and you plan to serve alcoholic beverages. Your personal decision to serve alcohol carries with it a responsibility for your guests' well-be- ' ing. Responsible attitudes toward drinking should make us behave in such a way we never have to feel sorry about, what happened while we were drinking — embarrassing memories and hangovers tire no fun! The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol Information and the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and AI c o- holism provide these tips for the conscientious host and hostess: Our bodies "use up" about one drink of any alcoholic beverage per hour. Serve drinks at reasonable, regular intervals. Remember that some guests may choose not to drink alcoholic beverages. Serve a good variety of non-alcoholic beverages with attractive garnishment. Choose a bartender with discretion. An eager volunteer may turn out to give the glasses just a little bit extra. Let the glass empty before offering a refill and then don't rush, especially if someone comes up empty too fast. When a guest says "no thanks," don't insist. Serve plenty of snacks. Food slows down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the system —- it also slows the rate at which people drink. When guests focus on the drinks, the party is slipping. Stir up conversation. Share a laugh. Draw out the guest talent. It is hospitable and advisable to serve a snack with coffee, tea or another nonalcoholic beverage before guests leave. This provides some nondrinking time before they start for home and allows for safe travel planning. If, in spite of your best intentions and those of your guests, someone does become drunk, follow these guidelines: There is no way to sober up quickly. Black coffee, a 'cold shower or even a whiff of oxygen simply are not effective as sobering agents. If possible, see that the drunken guest gets home safely, but do not let him drive. If the guest is determined to get home at once, ask one of the other guests to drive him home or call a cab. 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