These potato wrapped sausage bites are sure to be the hit party appetizer this holiday season. With this easy appetizer recipe and these great holiday hosting tips, your party is sure to be one that everyone will remember!
One of my absolute favorite things about the holiday season is all of the parties. There’s just something magical about getting dressed in your best ugly sweater, picking out the perfect white elephant gift, and making your favorite Christmas cookies while listening to Bruce Springsteen singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town in the background. I just love it.
As I’ve hosted parties and gift exchanges and cookie exchanges over the past few years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for hosting a party will be talking about for weeks and hosting one that people don’t really remember the next morning. Like our 2012 New Year’s Eve party, people are still talking about that one. It was pretty epic.
Out of everything I’ve learned, these are my best tips for hosting a memorable holiday party. And I should know since I’ve hosted my fair share of ones people forgot about too.
Pick a unique theme
Start by choosing a theme for your party, not just a holiday party. And if you want to do something traditional like an ugly sweater party, make it more specific like a DIY ugly sweater party where people have to fashion ugly sweaters themselves rather than buying them on Amazon like we did for ours this year. Or go way out of the box and do something like a cookies and carols party or a Gremlins party where people dress in 80s Christmas style.
Pick a theme and stick with it. That’s one of the reasons our black and white party was such a hit. Black and white was an easy theme and everyone went all out with their outfits, gifts, and food.
Serve good food
There’s no need to necessarily make everything yourself but having good food is a key to a party that sticks. Pick a couple of staples like spinach artichoke dip then mix things up with modern takes on traditional appetizers. For our latest party, I came up with this fun play on the traditional pigs in a blanket.
First, I picked up some Johnsonville Summer Sausage. If you’ve never had summer sausage, it’s a hard and smoked dried sausage that’s kind of like salami, no refrigeration necessary. I like Johnsonville’s Summer Sausage because it’s been the same recipe for over 70 years, a recipe that’s made with the best cuts of meats and spices mixed in.
I cut the ends off the Summer Sausage (save those for later!) then cut the rest of the sausage into small links of both beef sausage and the traditional flavor. Once I had nice little sticks of sausage, I wrapped them in thinly sliced pieces of potato and sweet potato and secured with toothpicks.
To give the sausage bites a nice crunch, I dropped the toothpick secured bites in a pot of hot oil and deep fried for a few minutes on each side then let them dry on a paper towel, basically creating potato chip wrapped sausage bites. The best part was that they were still yummy once they’d cooled to room temperature because the potato on the outside was still nice and crisp. And they literally took minutes to make since the sausage is already smoked and flavorful without having to add any seasoning or flavor yourself.
Another easy food idea would be to setup a build your crackers station where you have a variety of cheeses, crackers, and Johnsonville Summer Sausages and people can make their own little appetizers. It’s a nice way to let people choose what they want and to let people try a variety of different toppings rather than choosing for them. Need more recipe ideas or want to order Summer Sausage directly, check out www.SummerSausageStory.com.
Have a Plan
People make fun of me for my party plans. Every time I plan a party I put together a general schedule of things, knowing that it’s not going to be exact and flexibility is key. But I still think through everything that’s going to need to happen from the morning of to when I go to bed. I include things like what food needs to be cooked and put out, who is coming to help and at what time, what activities we’re going to do, what the plan for the night is (mingle, play game #1, eat dinner, play game #2, gift exchange, etc.), and who is helping to clean.
So have a plan, but realize it’s just that – a plan. And plans change. But having a plan can still help you assign things to people who want to help, make sure you don’t miss anything that you really wanted to do, and keep people from just sitting around.
I’m all about games and activities at parties. Gauge your guest list to determine what kind of games to play then pick a couple to play throughout the night. This list of 25 hilarious Christmas games should have something that fits your group.
Try New Gift Exchange Ideas
Gift exchanges are a holiday party staple. Mix things up with one of these unique gift exchange game ideas or just add a small twist and do a heads or tails gift exchange using the game instructions below.
Heads or Tails Gift Exchange Idea
- Have everyone bring a wrapped gift that fits a particular theme and particular price range (e.g., white elephant, homemade, favorite thing) and put all of the gifts on a table.
- When you’re ready to start the gift exchange, have everyone draw a number from 1 to however many people are participating.
- Whoever has #1 picks a gift from the table and unwraps the gift.
- Whoever has #2 flips a coin at the beginning of their turn. If they get heads, they have to pick a gift from the table to unwrap. If they get tails, they have to steal the gift from person #1. If #1 has their gift stolen, they have to then flip the coin to decide if they steal the gift back or choose a new gift from the table to unwrap.
- Continue until every player has had a turn, where every single person has to flip a coin before making they choose their gift whether it’s choosing a gift at the beginning of your turn or choosing a gift after someone steals your gift. Heads = new gift, tails = steal a gift.
- If someone flips tails and steals a gift from someone, if that person then flips tails, they can steal the gift right back.
- Gifts can be stolen as many times as they want, there is no freeze amount.
- The last person (who has the last number) flips a coin. If they get heads and take the final gift from the table, the game is over. If they get tails, they steal and the game continues until someone flips heads and has to unwrap the final gift from the table.
Give Them Something to Remember The Party
People always say party favors are for kids, but I completely disagree. I’m a huge fan of coming up with a simple party favor to send home with my guests whether it be a book from my Pajama Time Themed party, a CD (back when we used CDs) of great songs from the year for a New Year’s Eve party, or an ornament like I did for our 12 Days of Christmas party.
This is kind of my trick – if you give people something that they aren’t just going to throw away, they’ll remember the party and your awesome hosting skills every time they see it. I still remember our New Year’s Eve party every time I listen to to our CD.
What’s your best holiday party planning tip?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnsonville. The opinions and text are all mine.