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Christmas Eve Cocktail Party Help

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Shrimp cocktail (large)
Cedar plank salmon - served cold
Pasta - penne with slow roasted tomatoes and sausage
Rare roast beef and rolls w/ horseradish sauce
Hot dip - spicy crab or ...?
Charcuterie
Swedish meatballs - family tradition made by Mom
Various homemade cookies
Good wine, craft beer, cocktails

How does this look for about 20+ people? Any suggestions to add\subtract anything? We did a similar menu last year and it was all devoured and people raved but want to change it up a bit this year. I don't want my wife and I to spend all day and night in the kitchen.

How would gnocchi hold up in a chafing dish for a couple of hours versus serving the penne? Had a meyer lemon gnocchi in Maui this Summer and I would like to try to re-create. How far can I cook the gnocchi in advance before guests arrive? I would be buying fresh gnocchi from a local pasta shop.

For the charcuterie I plan to buy some local salumi and cheeses.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Add a Cheese and Fruit Platter along side a Crudites Platter. In place of the Roast Beef, consider a Vitello Tonnato. A Seafood Salad is always more impressive than simple shrimp cocktail. Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Asian inspired dipping sauces always is a favorite at my friends Feast of the Seven Fishes gathering. You can never go wrong with Mini Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder

      Thanks for the reply.

      I might look into the seafood salad idea.

    2. I see the need for something very green and crisp and fresh here; a nice big salad perhaps, and a platter of crudite. Various oven-roasted veggies would also be a good choice.
      The gnocchi, I'm not sure about. I do know that if it sits too long in a chafing dish it will tend towards a mushy texture - I think the penne's a better choice, especially as it sounds like the Meyer lemon sauce is probably somewhat creamy and will pick up starch from the gnocchi as it sits.
      As always, I recommend a vegetarian dipping option, either in addition to or instead of the crab dip, but the dip sounds good too....if you've got fish-eaters, you could do a bagna cauda; if not, an oil and vinegar dip with spices and herbs for dipping into.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mamachef

        I agree with mamachef about needing something vegetarian - a hot artichoke dip would be good. You could also make your pasta option vegetarian, although I agree with others that I wouldn't want to eat pasta at a cocktail party - I want finger foods, not anything that requires a fork. Empanadas are a good idea, or some other type of finger food. My brother made savory cream puffs filled with a pea mousse for a party last year that were well received and tasty. A spring roll/egg roll of some type would be good too.

      2. At a cocktail party I wouldn't serve a pasta dish, however smallish stuffed tomatoes might be an alternative. They could be roasted as well as raw. Skewers of cherry tomatoes and mozzarella is another idea. Hand held canapes are more appropriate at such an event. Your other dishes sound delightful.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          I do plan to have a crudite plate as well... just forgot to list it :0)

          I do not make a large amount of pasta but since people will be drinking alcohol and not eating dinner, therefore I like to serve something substantial. Eating a few bites of penne pasta on an appetizer plate is not hard to do. I'll try to figure out something more handheld that is filling. Maybe empanadas?

          1. re: boltsfan

            Bam!! Or Spanakopita!