When you have more than two families who wish to spend a holiday together, then a little “give” rather than “take” needs to happen. In our case, Hubs’ brother and his family wished to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his wife’s family, so Friday night we celebrated an early Christmas Eve with them and other members of our family. The traditional Christmas Eve meal in Hubs’ family is fondue. Then on Saturday we celebrated Christmas Day with a traditional turkey dinner. Yum!

Since the grandparents were still in town on the real Christmas Day, we had them over to our home for a visit with the boys. However, nobody was interested in having a real “dinner” since we had just had meals aplenty for the last two day.

My answer: appetizers!

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I prepared 5 different appetizers that fed 5 adults & 2 children and we still had a bit of leftovers, but not nearly as much as if I had put on a full dinner table for that many people. And I use the term “prepared” lightly when it came to 2 of the dishes!

IMG_4795First up, party meatballs.

These can be done various ways but almost always result in deliciousness. I chose to use frozen meatballs for obvious reasons. Tossed them in the crockpot a few hours before mealtime, added a bottle of chili sauce and an 18 oz. jar of grape jelly, stirred well and set to High until the mixture was bubbling, then turned to low. Gave it a good stir every 45 minutes or so and once it looked and tasted “done” I put it in the covered dish and refrigerated it until it was time to eat. A quick reheat on the stove was all it needed.

IMG_4796Next, I put some chicken wings on 2 foil-lined baking sheets and set the oven to 375. (If you don’t use non-stick foil, then I highly recommend a good coating of olive oil to prevent the chicken pieces from sticking.) I baked the chicken pieces for 30 minutes, flipped them and baked for another 20 minutes or so. Then I glazed them with a sauce that came from this recipe, only I used 1/2 a cup of BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup of soy and a 1/4 cup of honey, then tinkered with it until it came to the taste level that I desired. My usual go-to sauce for chicken wings is 1/2 a cup of BBQ sauce with some garlic powder and chili powder thrown in. Delish! Once I basted the first side of the wing, I put them in the oven for about 10 minutes, then flipped them over, basted again, and baked for another 10 minutes or so.

IMG_4799The bacon-wrapped water chestnut appetizer is always a hit with just about any crowd you’re wanting to please. We served these on Thanksgiving Day and they were all gone within minutes. (If you have the fridge space, you can prep these ahead of time.) I suggest using bacon from the butcher section of the grocery store rather than the prepackaged bacon as the pieces are wider and thicker, not to mention tastier! Simply cut each piece of bacon in half, then split the halved piece in two, length-wise. Roll a whole water chestnut in brown sugar then wrap each chestnut with a cut piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. I used 2 cans of water chestnuts and a pound of bacon and still had 3 or 4 pieces of bacon left over. Place the wrapped chestnuts on a foil-lined baking sheet, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, keeping on eye that the bacon is done but not over-done. These should be eaten soon after they’re out of the oven for the yummiest results!

IMG_4794My last 2 appetizers were easy preps, just chips and salsa (for any guests that wanted a really light fare) and a yummy jalapeno jelly that my sister-in-law had made for me tossed over a block of cream cheese. Add a few water crackers to the plate and you’ll have people begging for more! The jalapeno jelly was just the right amount of hot with sweet and the cream cheese gave it the creaminess to balance it all out.

Everyone loved the food, had plenty to eat, and I wasn’t stuck with a bunch of leftovers crowding my fridge! I highly suggest an appetizer dinner now and then for a change of pace to the routine, be it a holiday dinner or not. There are countless options to make it fun and festive and you can cater the food choices to your own family’s tastes.

What are you some food traditions your family shares in each year?

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