With the holiday season in full swing, you’re bound to be hosting guests at home. Whether you’re planning an all-out, dressed-to-the-nines New Year’s Eve party or a cozy Christmas dinner with a handful of close friends, we’ve got five tips on taking your hosting duties to the next level.
1. Highlight Local & Seasonal Foods
Impress your guests with foods that are local to your region. Not only do those items have a shorter “farm to table” journey (making them fresher & chock full of nutrients), but you get the added perk of supporting local producers in your community during the holiday season. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, local businesses recirculate a greater share of every dollar in the local economy, as they create locally owned supply chains and invest in their employees.
At the St. Peter Food Co-op, our definition of local includes items hailing from Minnesota or four surrounding states—Wisconsin, Iowa, North & South Dakota. Look for the circle or oval “LOCAL” signs which indicate these items.
2. Buy in Bulk to Keep Costs Down
We’ve all looked at a particularly delicious sounding recipe and stopped short once we realized how many ingredients it required, right? That’s the great thing about buying in bulk—you can purchase just the amount you need for your recipe. No more containers of star anise, cornstarch, or blanched almonds gathering dust & cluttering up your cupboards 6 months after Christmas!
Buy a little or buy a lot—but never more than you need or want. With over 500 unique bulk items, ranging from teas, to grains, to baking supplies, pasta, and even chocolate, there’s something for every shopper at the St. Peter Food Co-op. Many of our bulk products are locally sourced and/or organic. Bring your own container or use a provided bag to scoop up the best prices on bulk items at the Co-op.
3. Consider the Leftovers
It’s inevitable that you will end up with too much of something. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council Save the Food campaign, the average American family of four throws away about of 1,000 pounds of food a year. Use the guest-imator to gauge how much food you need in the first place. If you do end up with leftovers, don’t toss them! Check in with a local soup kitchen or shelter before your event to see if they will take donations. You could even invite your guests to bring their own containers to take a taste of the party home with them when they leave at the end of the evening.
4. Special Diets Don’t Upset Us
Paleo. Keto. Vegan. Gluten-Free. Vegetarian. With people eating a variety of different diets these days, for either medical or lifestyle reasons, it’s important to touch base with your guests before you start meal-planning. A good rule of thumb is to have a 3-4 dishes that each attendee can choose from. Shopping for special diets isn’t as difficult as it once was—the St. Peter Food Co-op carries a wide range of vegan options, for example.
5. When in Doubt, Bring a Co-op Cheese Ball
We couldn’t resist… nothing says PARTY like our famously creamy signature Gorgonzola Cheese Balls. Made with cream cheese, a combination of soft, grated cheeses, herbs, and crunchy accoutrements, cheese balls can be eaten on their own as a snack or as a dip for carrots, crackers, and celery. Pick one (or five) up from the Deli this season!