grown-up christmas party

I was going to say "adults only" christmas party, but that sounded scandalous.

About 6 years ago, after my baby sister got married, I decided to start a new tradition in the Scott Family.  Erica was a well thought out afterthought by my parents, and since she is so much younger than the rest of us, she had been relegated to the "kids table and activities" until the day she tied the knot at age 21.  To officially welcome her into the world of adulthood, I hosted a Family Christmas Party, no angels under the legal age invited.

I have a big family, number two of six kids, and we are all married.  Between the six of us, there are already 19 kids and counting. There is rarely an opportunity for just the adults to convene, and you can imagine the mayhem when we all get together with the children in tow.  My plan was to have a wonderful dinner party by candlelight, a gift exchange, and meaningful conversation to reconnect with my family without having to burp a baby or tend to a bathroom emergency brought on by the current child in training.  It was so much fun, and we have kept the tradition alive, rotating through hosts ever since. This year, it was back to being my turn.

Of course when you are going to be feeding a group of 14 people a full meal, one of the first things to think about is the menu.  My choice of food for the evening went a little something like this:

appetizers:  shrimp cocktail and baked brie with french bread
salad:  antipasto
entree:  double layer baked ziti and homemade breadsticks with herbs and butter
dessert:  gingerbread trifle with custard and fresh raspberries

The baked ziti is a recipe from Rachael Ray, and it really does feed an army.  I even had a little bit left at the end of the night.  Find the recipe {here}.  The only change I made was to add some browned sweet italian sausage to my red sauce to make it a little more hearty.  This dish is something that can be made ahead, then popped into the oven for 40 minutes before everyone shows up.

The gingerbread trifle is so yummy that I'm going to give you the recipe at the end of this post for a little treat.  It can also be made a full day ahead, which is a big timesaver when hosting.

Probably my favorite thing to do when planning an event is the table set-up.  I always do it a day or two in advance now that my boys are older and aren't quite as mischievous as they once were.  I know that everyone doesn't have that advantage, but you will, someday.  And then you will be sad that your babies don't want you to rock them to sleep anymore.... and you might even wish that maybe they were tiny and mischievous again.....

I just used stuff that I already had, and of course lots of candles.  Everything looks better at night when the lights are low and the candles are lit.  ......Ifyouknowwhatimean......   I had a bunch of straight glass vases in various sizes.  I filled them with fake snow and some spare sprigs I found while sweeping up after hanging some garland.  They are so wintry and will mesh right in with my decor through January.  I did spring for 1 bunch of white tulips at Costco.

I also tagged each goblet with a monogram.  This served as a place card, as well as helping to keep track of one's drink throughout the evening.

I ended up setting two tables because there were so many of us.  And yes, I'm definitely planning on picking a paint color in 2012.

We ate and visited by candlelight at the tables for an hour or so, with Michael Buble's new Christmas album playing softly in the background.   Then we gathered in the living room for a rousing game of Left, Center, Right.

Oh... this game is a MUST HAVE. I got mine at WalMart.  Our dear friends Ben and Kelly introduced it to us last Christmas Eve when we spent a delightful evening in their home.  It started out innocently enough.

Getting a little lot more intense as the game progressed.

And in the end, it was super exciting!  I WON!  Which means I made myself a cool $42 cash since we played with dollar bills.  Get this game.  It's such a fun one to play with a big group.

On to the gift exchange which was also very enjoyable.  Jeff got a woman's scarf, and I'm pretty sure Rachelle was more excited about it than he was.

I ended up with a tin of delicious, wafer thin gingersnaps, and Andrew got a sleeve of golf balls.  He's pretty much set for Christmas now.

However, the biggest highlight of the evening came when Daddy announced to all of us that as of January 1st he will be retiring.  He has never missed a day of work in 43 years.  That's a true story.  Can you even believe it?  I don't know anyone on this planet who is a harder worker than my Dad.  What an example he has been to me of perseverance.  I love him so much, and am so excited for him.  No one deserves it more.  I've already invited him to move in with us for the winter.  I'll provide him three square meals a day, and he can just putter around my house with his tool belt on!  Too bad five identical offers have already been submitted.  I think my mom wants him to herself for awhile.  Whatever.

We always end with a good family picture, and then a bad one.  (which is Erica's idea every year)  Please enjoy my fun family.  Oldest to youngest, left to right, with my parents in front.  Matt (brother) and Kim, me and my man, Ryan (brother) and Amy, Nate (brother) and Erica, Jeff (brother) and Rachelle, Brett and Erica (sister).

And that about sums it up.  Are you still reading?!

With some preparation and thought, anyone can throw a fun party.  If you start thinking about it now, by next Christmas you will be completely ready.  You should probably make the gingerbread trifle and eat the whole thing yourself before you think about serving it to your guests.  Oh, am I the only one that does that?

Gingerbread Trifle

2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark molasses
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft and creamy.  Add sugar and molasses and beat again until the mixture is well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Slowly pour in the buttermilk and beat well.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add half the flour mixture to the bowl and beat until blended.  Repeat with other half.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let it cool completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use.  Can be stored at room temperature for up to two days.

9 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Divide the eggs yolks from the whites.  Place yolks in a large bowl, and beat with electric mixer on medium-high speed with the sugar until mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour.  In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.  Slowly pour half the milk into the egg mixture and beat until blended, then pour the mixture into the remaining milk in the pan.  Over medium heat, bring the ingredients to a boil while whisking constantly.  Allow the custard to boil for 1 minute as you continue to whisk.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Let custard cool slightly, then cover it's surface with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.  Let the custard cool completely, then fold in 2 cups of real whipped cream that has been slightly sweetened.  Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Raspberry mixture:
3 (12 oz) packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
3 T. sugar

Assembling the trifle:
Cut gingerbread into small chunks.  (about 2 inches).  Put a nice thick layer in the bottom of the trifle dish.  Spoon some of the raspberry mixture over, then top with some of the custard filling.  Repeat the layering two or three more times, (depending on the size of your dish) ending with the custard layer on top.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Before serving, top with fresh raspberries.  Now eat it!

Don't forget to enter our {christmas giveaway}.  You still have a few days left!


  1. What a fun idea! You have a beautiful family :) You all must have great babysitters! That gingerbread trifle sounds sooo yummy- I have been wanting to try one and that one may be it!

  2. Jilly Frilly! I loved this post, loved seeing your family, how cute you all are! There are some hairstlyles shown in the pictures that I want to be trying! I may or may not be making the gingerbread trifle and eating the whole delicious footed bowl of later today as well. fondly and with a full belly, beth : )

  3. Newest follower! great blog! Would love a follow back if you like.. laura

  4. Our family has made the trifle twice, it is fabulously delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


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