Stress-Free Soiree

When I talk to friends about having people over for a party, the thing that seems to stress people out is figuring out what to serve.  Even more daunting is how to serve it without spending three days in the kitchen and having to clean up for three days afterward.

I have had those parties that literally ended with me completely exhausted and unable to enjoy myself because I’d worked so hard putting everything together.  While I do believe that details make a party memorable, I have learned there is a way to get those details done without killing yourself and your good time.

The key to all this is a little pre-planning, a little pre-shopping, and just some clever, modern presentation.

I am going to share with you the buffet I served for Christmas day this year.  I think it would work very nicely for New Year’s Eve.

Keep in mind, that I’ve never been one to serve a traditional Christmas dinner.  I think that is perfectly appropriate to do-it just isn’t my style.  I prefer to spend the day on the floor with my kids, exploring their new board games and electronic devices, reminiscing about Christmases past, and ending the night snuggled up on the couch watching A Christmas Story.

New Year’s eve is a lot the same for us-full of games and laughter, watching the ball drop, and banging pots and pans with wooden spoons when the clock hits twelve.

If this sounds like home to you, you will like this easy little buffet that will keep your guests happily grazing throughout the length of your party.

I start a few days before, by simply planning out what I’ll serve.  I just grab a notebook and pen, or my i phone, and jot down my menu while the family watches TV.  I pick everything up during my regular grocery shopping.  Then I’m ready to go on the day of the party.

First, I put together a vegetable and fruit tray.  For a modern twist, I  chose a variety of reds, oranges, and yellows.


I think it would be fun to do several trays for a large crowd using a different color scheme for each tray.  I just included some ranch dip for the vegetables.

I put together a tray of olives, pickles, cheeses, and ham.


The pepper jack cheese comes cubed-isn’t that smart?  I just took cheddar cheese slices and used a cookie cutter to create the unique shapes that are perfect to adorn a Ritz cracker.


I cut up a couple of kielbasa sausages, threw them into the slow cooker, and sprinkled them with some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and a Coors Light I had in the fridge.  I cooked them for hours and they were so tender.  The alcohol will cook out, so don’t have any worries about serving these to the kiddos.  They are perfectly ok as long as you cook them, I promise.


I placed some bowls of chips, pub mix, salsa, plenty of plates and napkins,  and some drinks on my buffet table.  I also set out some warm nacho cheese dip which my holiday would not be complete without.


Everyone knows I am not a baker, so I bought a bunch of mini sweets at Walmart and placed them on a tiered serving tray for easy grabbing.


Here’s a peek at the table.


And here’s a peek at my bountiful plate which was refilled several times over during the course of the day.


This buffet is all about having things on hand that just require some arranging and setting out when you are ready to serve them.   I recommend jotting down what you think you’d like to serve and then, just walk around your grocer’s deli case and produce section to see what’s there, ready to use, and fresh.  Take advantage of pre-cut vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and meats.  You will be surprised that you don’t pay much more per pound for some convenience items, and they are totally worth it.

Remember, it’s all in a neat presentation and having a variety treats that suit everyone’s taste.

I hope you try a little buffet for your own get together soon.


Here’s to a stress-free soiree!



  1. Dawn Miller says:

    It was very good and you always have a great presentation. I use beer in cooking a lot. It works great to open the meat to the flavors of a marinade while also adding a sweetness.

  2. That’s my kind of Christmas spread, except as a Havey, I’m good at the sweets and learning all of the rest. I use cookie cutters on watermelon in the summer too, it just makes it fun.

    • You are good at the sweets-I cannot compete with you Havey’s on that, but who would want to, you guys make the best sweets of anyone I know :)

  3. I love the cookie cutter idea for the cheese, and this is so easy to put together, great way to have some good food, but not spend the whole day in the kitchen.

  4. chad havey says:

    A beautiful spread as usual your friends and family are very lucky to have you in their lives

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