Labor Day is almost here. In the U.S., Labor Day creates a three-day weekend marking the passing of summer. It is a holiday to rest and relax with family and friends. Given the nature of the holiday, any party should be effortless. Here are some of my tips for having a stress-free party.
Effortless Party Idea # 1: Don’t do it all yourself – have a potluck.
And to help guests decide what to bring, declare a theme. Try BBQ and the fixings, or just salads or only desserts. You know your crowd so you could do one of these or make it all from the Farmer’s Market (peaches and nectarines are abundant now), or call it tailgate and expect several versions of chili from beef to vegan. Go Cajun with jambalaya or Mexican with tacos and guacamole.
Effortless Party Idea # 2: Have it catered or get take-out.
Even foodies need a break. And for those of us who want to spend part of the weekend crafting, it’s a winning strategy. And it does not have to be expensive or unhealthy; shop around for coupons and special promotions for the Labor Day weekend.
Effortless Party Idea # 3: Use (mostly) what’s in your cupboards or freezer.
My mom is a magician in the kitchen using things right out of the freezer and cupboard to create yummy meals. The same technique can be used for parties. By the way, she claims her freezer habit is due to living on a farm where the closest grocery store was a 45 minute drive in to town. Enough said.
Freeze those munchies. Yes, she freezes chips (corn and potato) and taco shells and so can you. Just ignore the Sell By dates when you do open them six months later. Layer chips or shells between two paper towels and microwave for about 10 seconds to restore to just-bought freshness. I rolled my eyes when my mom served up some chips done this way, but I have to tell you, they were good.
See above, the chips I got for half price at my local grocer in the deli section. Often you can find great deals there – these were less expensive than any chips in the chip aisle even those on special. Unsalted, a bonus for those keeping tabs on sodium intake. So shop for the best products and prices, buy multiples and freeze away.
Here are some other things you can freeze: Bread (a given), milk in plastic jugs (do not freeze paper cartons or glass), coffee, shredded cheese, browned hamburger meat. Only brown the meat and add nothing else before you freeze it. Then once thawed and warming in a skillet, add your seasonings. This makes quick work for getting tacos or other dishes to the table. I recommend Laura’s Lean Beef or similar producer in your area. It costs more than regular hamburger, but it’s well worth it for the superior taste and lack of hormones and antibiotics.
Go for the catch. If you or your spouse fish, you may just have a batch of frozen fillets in the freezer begging to be fried up (baked or grilled). Add slaw, hushpuppies and iced tea, and you’ve got yourself a southern style party.
Obviously this idea requires prep work, so if this approach is not possible for your Labor Day get-together, there’s always the next party.
Effortless Party Idea # 4: Keep the menu simple.
Whether handwritten from Mamaw or Pinned from a food blogger, use your tried and true recipes. If you like them, so will guests. My go-to menu is Mexican. I grew up going to a Mexican restaurant famous for their cheese dip, Mexico Chiquito. Some people call it Sin Dip or The Secret Dip. I call it Crack. Here’s my family’s version of the dip. The actual recipe is still a secret.
Mexico Chiquito’s Cheese Dip
Cooking time is 25 minutes
1 stick of butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ketchup
a dash of salt
2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 pound Velveeta Cheese, cut into cubes
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients including the milk. Then add the cheese. Stir until cheese melts.
Effortless Party Idea # 5: Limit the drink offerings to one or two choices.
Have one or two choices for non-alcoholic beverages and do the same for those containing alcohol.
Dr. Oz shared this drink recipe on his show back in May (it aired today in my local market). He says it enhances mood. I have not tried it, but I think it would be a great party drink. So Zen.
Muddle, crush, three basil leaves – the aroma is soothing
Mix to that 1 part ginger liqueur – to support relaxation
1 part vodka
½ part lime juice
½ part agave
BACARDÍ Classic Cocktails Light is a new line of low calorie, ready to serve cocktails. At less than 95 calories for a 4-ounce serving, BACARDÍ Classic Cocktails Light is available in Pina Colada and Mojito flavors and is made with natural flavors, real juice and pure cane sugar. Whether enjoying a favorite cocktail after a long day or throwing a party, BACARDÍ Classic Cocktails deliver classic cocktail taste that’s a hit with friends, won’t add inches to your waistline and won’t take all day to prepare.
“Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Bacardi via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Bacardi.”
By Scarlett Burroughs