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Looking Ahead to those Holiday Parties


It’s the holiday season and with that comes the stress of cooking. So how can you do it all and make it look (almost) effortless? Tim Mulligan, author of A Perfect 10 and A Perfect 10 Party Edition, has some suggestions.

Do whatever prep you can ahead of time. After all, Mulligan told Beyondish, you want to have fun too. Consider the vibe beforehand that you want to create: think of the music you’ll play, the flow of the room and where and when each activity will take place. Consider, too, your cocktail situation. Instead of spending the night making drinks for everyone, Mulligan advises having beer, wine, a mocktail, and one specialty cocktail prepped in advance.

Don’t worry about perfection. He favors “a more natural, rustic presentation.” That said, a little chopped parsley or greenery on top of a dish as a final touch can go a long way. A huge pet peeve of his is store-bought food on party tables in the original packaging; he recommends making the effort to repurpose those dishes, “adding a bit of yourself to it.”

Consider diets as you prepare. Mulligan loves serving a roasted pork loin if you want a traditional dinner, as it’s “super easy, elegant and delicious.” In order to enhance the holiday flavor, he uses fresh herbs and apple cider, and serves it with homemade applesauce on the side. If you’re in the mood for a non-traditional meal, there’s always Turkey Milanese, served with a large heap of arugula salad on top. For vegetarians, he suggests a mac and cheese station, served alongside a variety of meatless toppings, “where your guests can embellish away to their holiday heart’s content.”

Embrace family traditions when you can. Many of Mulligan’s recipes are inspired by his family, such as Grandma’s Gumdrop Bread, which means dinner rolls with gumdrops and an eggnog glaze. He said this idea came from his late mother, Judy, who was, “not always a whiz in the kitchen; this was something she dreamed up I think back in the 70’s, and we had it every year.”


Ashley Archambault

Ashley is a writer and teacher living in Florida. When she isn't reading or writing, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, on the yoga mat in downward dog, or lost out in nature with her family.



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