‘Tis the Season, RevGals and Pals! In addition to Advent Wreaths and multiple special orders of service and making sure the Deacons have counted up the Christmas candles on hand, we have additional duties at home: pulling boxes from storage, decorating trees, mailing packages, considering writing Christmas cards, then ordering the ones that say “Peace in the New Year” instead.
But some duties cannot be postponed. If it’s a tradition of yours, or even one in your church, and whether you live in a manse/rectory/parsonage or your own home, you may be hosting a Christmas party for staff or leadership or, Lord love you, an Open House for the congregation. This week’s questioner turns to the Matriarchs, asking:
I am hosting a Christmas Open House at my parsonage. It’s a mid-afternoon thing so I don’t need a full meal, but I am getting worried about the requirements and restrictions of diabetics and gluten-free and dieting/not dieting for the holidays folks. I’d welcome any ideas and suggestions from those who’ve ‘been there/done that’.
A devoted lurker
Dear Devoted Lurker, here are some thoughts from our panel.
First, from earthchick:
I have never hosted an Open House in my tiny home, but I do bake and cook for a Christmas party for our campus ministry students every year (which I host at our church), and here are a few of my tips:
1 – Variety. It’s okay if not everything can be eaten by everyone – with vegetarians, diets, allergies, and other restrictions, it is extremely difficult to cater every dish to every palate. Make up for that by having a good variety of options. Let people make their own decisions about what they can/should eat.
2 – Label. This will help people make those decisions. If you have the time, write/type up the ingredients of each dish, and display on a card nearby (along with the name of the dish).
3 – Strive for a balance of sweet and savory, light and heavy.
4 – Trader Joe’s is your friend. If you have one nearby, you can find all manner of Christmas treats, snack foods, and heavy hors d’euvres (check the freezer section for lots of great foods that can be used as heavy appetizers). You can get a lot of good-tasting food there without breaking the bank.
5 – The slow-cooker is also your friend. I usually have a big one full of meatballs (cooked with grape jelly and cocktail sauce) and a very small one filled with hot queso.
6 – Accept help. If anyone offers to make and bring something, take them up on it. You don’t have to make it a potluck, but even one or two people bringing homemade cookies or something else will be a help.
7 – Don’t forget the fresh fruits, raw veggies, and nuts. These can be great snacking options for people looking to avoid baked goods and heavy foods.
8 – Write out a plan for yourself so that almost everything is ready ahead of time, with notes about when things might need to go in the even during the party, so that you can spend most of the time during the Open House visiting with people.
I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best on your Open House!
Next, we hear from the Crimson Rambler:
Blessings upon your hospitable spirit~
So if I’m right — I’d have raw vegetables and two kinds of basic dip, crackers and four kinds of cheese, maybe a shrimp ring or two, familiar kinds of fruit (and dip, maybe), and fruitcake, shortbread, gingerbread men, and maybe one plate of “Square Brown Things” such as brownies, Nanaimo bars, matrimonial cake (aka date squares). You could stand some candy canes in a Festive Christmas Mug. Tea, coffee, decaf, and a non-alcoholic punch of great simplicity. Freeze some maraschino cherries in ice cubes for seasonal joy. MAYBE hot cider if you’re in an applacious part of the world. MAYBE hot chocolate, if not.The diabetics and the gluten-free and the dieters then can make their own choice. Hummus is a good gluten-free dip. Contact me for a smoked-salmon mousse recipe that is simplicity itself, goes nicely w. crackers AND veg., maybe not so much with the fruit?”Good and plain” would be my theme — lots of decoration — and a big ol’ smile.
And from Muthah+, who blogs at Stone of Witness:
As one for whom FOOD is always an interesting topic I would suggest:
- easy to prepare foods like nut, olives, fruit and things that take little prep but are gluten free. Often grocery olive bars have items like stuffed grape leaves or the like. I avoid chips and dip because of the gluten thing. Homemade Chex mix can be gluten free.
- provide sugared and un-sugared cookies or pastries.
- savory and sweet offerings help those who watch sugar.
- a variety of drinks rather than a single punch is better.
- cooking from scratch is helpful for those who have specific diets. That way when someone with specific needs asks, I know what is in the foods I have prepared.
My go-to recipe place is foodtv.com especially the offerings of Ina Garten. Her food tends to be yummy and generally simple.
But I am sure that we have enough recipes among us to give you help.
Sistahs, do we have recipes?
I suspect we do. RevGals and Pals, if you have a recipe to share, particularly one that would coordinate with the concerns of our questioner, please post or link to it in the comments.
Our queue is empty, so I encourage you to send your questions, holiday or otherwise, to Ask the Matriarch.