THIS STORY WAS SPONSORED BY STELLA ARTOIS.
The holidays are here again, and with them comes the first dusting of snow on the rooftops and the smell of fresh-baked gingerbread in the air. That’s not all, though. In addition to being an excuse to binge on sweets and wear the occasional fur-trimmed hat, the holidays are, of course, an opportunity to show off your hosting skills to friends and family. The holiday party is a welcome excuse to gather your favourite people together for good food, drinks, and merriment, and to create an occasion they’ll not soon forget.
A holiday party isn’t all that different from a regular dinner party, the chief distinction being that a holiday get-together holds the food and drinks in equal esteem. Where a standard dinner party might see you preparing an elaborate sit-down meal involving complex recipes and hard-to-find ingredients, the holidays are all about cheese plates, toothpick meatballs, and that spinach dip served in a hollowed out loaf of bread — things that are both easy to prepare and delicious. On the drinks front, your selection needn’t been complicated, either. Instead of craft cocktails or wine, the right beer can pair just as well with a holiday menu.
There are an infinite number of ways to throw the perfect holiday party, but all of them have a few basic things in common: good friends, plenty of refreshments, and a hearty dose of yuletide cheer. Should you wish to go a few steps beyond the basics (tis the season, after all), here are a few tips to get you into the spirit.
How to Pair Beer and Food
Just because dinner is served doesn’t mean you have to switch to wine. A balanced, crisp lager can complement your dishes by accentuating or contrasting their flavours. For instance, the light bitterness of hops in Stella Artois balances the heaviness of a turkey dinner, while the gentle sweetness of its malted barley accentuates desserts like hazelnut cheesecake.
How To Make Small Talk
The predictable advice to avoid talking politics at holiday gatherings is a sound one. Instead, get the conversation moving by bringing up something just as dramatic, but far less contentious. This is the season for year-end lists, after all. Talk best films, most outstanding television shows, favourite late-night hosts. You get the (best) picture.
How To Roast Nuts
Combine a cup each of raw walnuts, raw pecans and dry roasted almonds and cashews in a bowl. Add a dash or two of nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne and salt, then toss with a tablespoon each of melted butter and maple syrup. Roast the mixture at 350 F for 10 minutes, let cool, and try not to eat them all before your guests arrive. This might be the most difficult part.
How To Make A Decent Playlist
Just like the food, the lighting, and having an ample supply of chilled Stella on hand, the right music is a crucial element of any good soirée. Consider the mood: is this a classic Elvis and Bing Crosby kind of affair or more of a cool, contemporary Sufjan Stevens type of thing? When in doubt, Vince Guaraldi Trio never fails. It’s nostalgic, subtle, and, like the best holiday music, a little bittersweet.
Be Sure to Toast the Hosts
This being the season of giving, arriving with the right host or hostess gift is extra important this time of year. A bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers might be standard, but going the extra mile and showing a bit of creativity will win your host’s admiration (and likely a return invitation next year). How about a single-origin olive oil? Or a selection of artisanal sea salts? Actually, a limited edition bottle of Stella Artois will always go over well.
Why Stella is even more of a yuletide tradition than eggnog.
Along with gingerbread cookies and roast goose, Stella Artois deserves its place on the list of classic holiday foods, thanks to a chapter in its centuries-old history. Legend has it that Stella Artois was originally brewed as a holiday gift to its home town of Leuven. The name Stella, in fact, is latin for “star” (as in the holiday star), a motif that remains to this day emblazoned on every holiday bottle of Stella Artois.