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Here's A Holiday Party Planning Tip: Make A List And Check It Twice

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The holiday season kicks off next week, with Thanksgiving marking the start of the annual whirlwind of social occasions.

The guests today on KNPR’s State of Nevada can offer assistance in navigating the family gatherings, office parties, and football bowl games that fill the calendar this time of year.

Whether it’s being a better host, more thoughtful guest, or choosing the right spirits of the season, they’ve got the answer.

Patrick Peel, a top Las Vegas event planner, and designer, said preparation is key to a successful social event, whether it’s a gala on the Strip or a house party with friends.

“Set a budget, make a list, and start early,” said Peel, a past president of the Southern Nevada chapter of the International Live Events Association. “Options for venues, entertainment and food all narrow the longer you wait.”

On being invited to a family holiday party by your new significant other’s family:

Peel: Definitely have something to bring to the party. And go ahead and introduce yourself to everyone. Don’t allow the person who has invited you to just introduce you, go out and do that yourself. Because it’s a family setting, you’re going to sitting there for a couple of hours with them so dive on in and put the hand out there and start being merry and festive. 

Support comes from

On party mistakes:

Peel: Not planning enough for the amount of people that are coming. Not enough food. I think that it’s okay sometimes to run out of food if you have enough liquor because people want the cocktails more than the food.

Also, putting all your food out there at the beginning of your event instead of layering it. So that people who are coming later have some fresh food for them as well. Switching out your food, making it sure you’re freshening it up, but don’t put everything out there so it just sits and looks nasty.

On being prepared: 

Mark Stoddard, brand ambassador, Hendrick's Gin West Coast: 

“Preparation is really important. If you know that people are coming over or if you are planning a small little gathering don’t leave things to the last minute. Make sure you chill that wine and that beer the day before. Make sure you have plenty of ice!”

On what to bring to a party:

Stoddard: “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel especially if you’re going over to a friend’s house and you want to bring something, bring a ready-made cocktail that has two or three ingredients, very simple. The classic one that would be great is just a Hendricks gin and tonic but you could take it to the next level get a great quality tonic water like Q or Fevertree but bring a unique garnish like a slice of cucumber for it.” 

Ty Martin, owner, Craft Wine and Beer of Reno: Bubbles is always a good way to go. It's incredibly versatile with any foods and it doesn't need food particularly. And it can be had at any price point, depending on how much you feel the need to impress.

There is great sparkling wine coming out of Chile now. Spanish cava is always a great wine. You can get it from $10 to $15 a bottle that will absolutely compete with a lot of champagne out there. 

For really good champagne, you're looking at minimum $45 but you can also get that special experience. And it certainly is part of the joy of drinking champagne to be able to say you're drinking actual champagne.

On kosher wine to bring to a Hanukkah party:

Martin: Any wine from California or Canada would be considered kosher because all the ingredients to make wine are already kosher, so you could fall back on that and bring any wine you like from those regions. 

If it has to be made by someone who is also an Orthodox Jew then that would pretty much have to come from Israel, which there are a couple of good wineries that do that. The Golan Heights region is excellent in Israel. Baron Herzog in California does some white wines, some Chenin blanc that is excellent.

Recipes:

Dragon's Brew

0.5 Oz Hong Kong Buijiu

1 Oz Avion Espresso Tequila

1 Oz Coconut Crème

1 Oz Crème de Cassis

1 Oz Coffee

Crush Ice

2 dashes Ground Cinnamon

Whipped Cream (optional)

Shake and Serve with candy cane garnish

Rusty Nail

2 parts Monkey Shoulder Scotch

1 part Drambuie Liqueur

Serve over ice. 

Garnish with an orange twist

Winter Margarita

2 parts Milagro tequila

1 part fresh lime juice

3/4 part Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

(optional: Top with a float of Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur)

Shake, serve over ice, and garnish with a blood orange wheel.

Tom & Jerry - courtesy Food & Wine Magazine 

Tom & Jerry Batter - 

In a medium bowl, beat 3 large egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat 3 egg yolks with 1/2 ounce aged rum. Gradually beat in 1 cup superfine sugar, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground mace, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice and a small pinch of ground cloves. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. The batter can be refrigerated overnight. Makes about 20 ounces.

8 Oz Tom & Jerry Batter

4 Oz Cogac

4 Oz aged rum

8 Oz hot whole milk

Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

Secret Garden

1.5 Oz botanist gin

3/4 Oz lemon juice

3/4 Oz ginger honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)

1 passion tea bud

3 Oz hot water 

Place tea bud in brewing pot. Pour minimum of 3 oz of hot water over tea bud. As the tea bud blooms, mix 3/4 oz lemon juice and 3/4 ginger honey syrup in mixing glass. Stir in 1.5 oz botanist gin. Once the tea has brewed, combine the mixing glass with 3 oz of the tea in a fluted glass.

Spiked Hot Chocolate 

5oz cocoa

2 Dash of orange bitters

1/2 oz. Grand Marnier 

1/2 oz. Amaretto liqueur

1 oz. Zaya rum

 Topped with Vanilla whip cream, dusted cocoa, roasted marshmallow and an orange zest. 

 

Guests

Blaire Dela Cruz, vice president of operations, Lucky Dragon resort; Ty Martin, owner, Craft Wine and Beer of Reno; Patrick Peel, event designer and planner; Mark Stoddard, brand ambassador, Hendrick's Gin West Coast