illustration of people at a party having cocktails and appetizers and desserts

The Spruce Eats / Julie Bang

Glamorous Holiday Hosting

Our choose-your-own-adventure approach to hosting this holiday season

We’re not sure about you but, here at The Spruce Eats, we are ready to throw out all the stops in the name of celebrating this holiday season. We are ready to dust off the cocktail glass set that laid dormant for the past few years; to spring for the caviar that will add some old-school glamour to the opening night of cocktail party season; and to devote hours to creating a show-stopping dessert for our guests. That being said, do we really have the stamina to do all of these things? Absolutely not. And, is it even necessary to do all of these things? Also absolutely not. 

Raspberry Bellini: A Champagne Cocktail With Fresh Berries

The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

We deserve nice things, some glitz and some glamour. But part of those “nice things” is not being stressed. It means not devoting endless time and money to every last element of a holiday party menu. Here at The Spruce Eats, it means figuring out what sparks the most joy for you at a festive cocktail or dinner party, and devoting the time and energy to making that one thing. This is your one Glamorous Recipe—the food or drink you are eager to show off to your guests the moment they arrive. Then, leaning on some semi-homemade and smart culinary tricks, you can bring together the rest of your very glamorous, and very much needed, party menu. These are your Glamour-ish Recipes—still very tasty, a 10 out of 10 on the festiveness scale, but with a fraction of the work.

We invite you to follow your gut this holiday hosting season, and go on a choose-your-own adventure approach to building your party menu. In the words of French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Or, in this case, tell us where in the party you naturally gravitate toward first, and we’ll tell you what you should focus on making.

We invite you to consider: what section of a party do you tend to gravitate towards? Is it the cocktail bar, the appetizer table, the main event entrée, or the dessert table? Scroll down to that section of the party below to find your Glamorous recipe for the season as well as a curated list of Glamour-ish, low-lift recipes to fill out the rest of your menu.  These Glamour-ish recipes are also beloved by our readers and staff, but are easier to make, while sacrificing none of the festive and fancy. 

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy Hosting!

-Kristin Stangl

Editor, The Spruce Eats

Read On & Find Your Perfect Hosting Style

The Spruce Eats/ Julie Bang

For the Home Bartender: Glamorous Lambrusco Punch

lambrusco punch

The Spruce Eats /Cara Cormack + Sabrina Tan

When you enter a party, you are immediately drawn to the cocktail bar to cheers friends and poke around curiously to see what bitters, herbal liqueurs, amaros, and champagne might be offered. If this is you, then our Lambrusco Punch recipe is your time to shine. The flavor profile of this retro-glam punch bowl cocktail will show your guests that you know a thing or two about making a drink that is both interesting and crowd-pleasing. Rosemary, citrus, cardamom simple syrup, a dry Lambrusco, and the addition of Byrrh Grand Quinquina, makes this not-your-grandmother’s punch. 

The Spruce Eats / Julie Bang

For the Appetizer-Lover: Glamorous Blini Bar

The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack + Sabrina Tan

When you enter a party you immediately peek at the finger foods, building your own perfect, overflowing plate of mini-bites. Look no further than our editors’ favorite Glamorous Appetizer. Caviar. Yes, please and thank you. But it’s the buckwheat blini that will set this appetizer apart. While this recipe does take both effort and time to carefully create a batch of these pillowy discs, they are the perfect vehicle for this special occasion caviar service. Don’t let price deter you from this option—caviar and its kin come in all shapes, sizes, and price points as low as $20 a jar for salmon roe.

The Spruce Eats / Julie Bang

For the Dinner Party Fan: Glamorous Wellington

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga + Sabrina Tan

You prefer to sit and linger over a large meal, gathered around a table with your guests talking for hours. If that’s the case, then try our Glamorous Entrée, which calls upon a classic showstopper. When you think of Wellington, you probably think beef. We're here to tell you Wellington is more of a method than a single set recipe that demands the use of beef as the filling. Yes, Beef Wellington is a wintery classic; but we also offer for your consideration a Vegetarian Mushroom Wellington as well as a Pork Wellington. Regardless of which you choose, this table-side carved classic has Glamorous written all over it.

The Spruce Eats / Julie Bang

For the Baker: Glamorous Croqembouche

The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati + Sabrina Tan

You are a dessert-first person, giving minimal mind to the savory and caring only about buttercream, cakes, pies, and pâte à choux. This year’s Glamorous Dessert is a stunner and probably a bucket-list pastry project for you already. She is beauty, she is grace. She is also a multi-hour project. The croquembouche is a dazzling tower of homemade cream puffs, cemented together with caramel and garnished with a spun sugar web as big and as fabulous as you like. This gravity defying tower is an edible arrangement your guests will be talking about the moment they enter the door.

Jam-Filled Kolache Cookies With Cream Cheese Pastry

The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack