Christmas Canapes & Drinks – How to Host the Perfect 1950s Christmas Party

Continuing with the holiday theme this week (weddings will return promise!), today’s post will be topical for anyone hosting a Christmas drinks party. This will be me on Tuesday evening – yippee.

Parties … owe much of their success to the thought expended on food and drink. Even the impromptu need not take the hostess by surprise if the store cupboard is kept well-stocked with pastry shells in airtight tins and good supplies of canned and bottled delicacies. Ideal Home in 1956

Taking a leaf out of life in the 1950s then, even if you’re not hosting Christmas drinks or a party, this post should be useful as you should always make sure you have a few canapés up your sleeve! Who knows when the unexpected guest might turn up. In the 1950s cocktail parties were extremely popular, and Christmas was a chance for women (yes – just like a good housewife) to show off their culinary and domestic skills. As anyone who has ever hosted a drinks or dinner party knows, maintaining that airbrushed manicured look and a rosy smile is never easy when you’re sticking your head in and out of an oven and panicking about timings. However, in the 1950s the woman was expected to cook and prepare everything, and still retain that air of sophistication and calmness. Not to mention looking immaculate. So how on earth can we do that? My number one tip – preparation! (oh and a splash of perfume and a glass of wine helps)

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First of all, prepare as many of your canapes in advance, and just leave a few trays that need to be heated up 5 minutes before your guests arrive. Now I looked for 1950s-themed canapés, but to be honest the Ritz crackers and devilled eggs just didn’t shout Christmas. I was tempted by this rather fascinating 1950s recipe for a ‘sandwich loaf’…but then thought otherwise. It did make me laugh though.

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The following are some of my favourite ideas for Christmas canapés. Plus they are easy. It just takes that tiny bit of extra effort, but I promise you will be rewarded by those smiling bellies.

Mini cranberry & turkey pies

For these you just need to combine a mixture of shredded leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and creme fraiche into shortcrust pastry-lined muffin tins. Add your pastry lids, brush with egg and place in the oven until the pastry is crisp and golden. Mmmm….they look so delicious. No one would believe it’s that simple.

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Sweet chilli & lime glazed sausages

Cocktail sausages always go down well, but you can make yours much more interesting with this recipe. All it is – soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and lime juice mixed together and drizzled over your usual chipolata sausages, together with a bit of olive oil. It only takes 10 minutes in the oven for these sausages to turn from ordinary to extraordinary! Also try honey & mustard for another tasty idea.

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Salmon frittata

This recipe by Angela Hartnett is so delicious. It just involves beating eggs and then adding them to olive oil in a frying pan to start to cook the frittata. Add some chopped onion, chilli and parsley, and then just before it’s all cooked you add the smoked salmon (at the very last second!). When it’s cool you serve as wedges. So easy and looks fantastic! For the full recipe click here.

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Blueberry & stilton blinis

These canapés just shout Christmas. First make a salsa out of blueberries, raspberries, roughly chopped red onion, a little bit of green chilli and some capers. Mix together and chill for 20 mins. Then top your ready-made blinis or crackers with a slice of stilton and the stilton. Voila. For the full recipe click here.

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Chorizo cups with feta, mint & slow roast tomato

These chorizo canapés are just so colourful and look simply scrumptious. By putting sliced chorizo in a mini cupcake baking tray and baking for just a few minutes, you can create these impressive looking cups to fill with your favourite cheese. Feta, mint and slow roast tomatoes work so well, but I’m also thinking a bit of black pudding with manchego cheese could make an interesting filing too. Yum.

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Mini filo mince pies

Of course you’ve just got to serve up mini mince pies. Every year I make my own filo mince pies, and they always go down so well. They’re as light as air, but still have that indulgent filling that I just adore. Just line a mini cupcake baking tray with squares of filo pastry (in 2 layers) and then do again to make a base of stars. You can line the pastry with beaten egg or butter to make them stick. Fill with a teaspoon of shop-bought mincemeat, and then top with a final filo square. Brush with egg, bake in the oven for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and and then dust with icing sugar.

© Fifties Wedding

Of course to be truly 1950s-style, you also need to serve a healthy dose of polite conversation with your canapés.

“Please,” “Thank you,” and “excuse me,” salt and peppered everyone’s conversation in the 50s. Children were taught, “manners,” and were required to be courteous, which included never addressing an adult by their first name, saying “yes, Sir,” and “no, Ma’am,” and making requests in the form, “may I please …?”… It’s not that one never heard profanities in the fifties, although it was rare, and many, if not most adults, never used profanity, simply because decent people did not use it.

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So if you think you fall into the ‘decent’ category, dirty jokes to your guests are a no! Having said that, I’m all for letting your hair down, but perhaps you can greet your guests with a glass of bubbly or mulled wine at the door with a ‘May I please take your coat?’

Of course all that polite conversation might go out the window after a few drinks. As it’s Christmas you’ve got to serve mulled wine, but eggnog is also a good choice. There are so many recipes out there to make mulled wine, but I always just use my dad’s recipe which involves red wine, a bit of orange juice and then all the spices – a couple of cinnamon sticks, grated nutmeg, whole cloves and star anaise. Demerara sugar is good for making it a bit sweeter if that’s how you prefer.

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Of course in the 1950s it was all about the cocktail. Bubbly (it doesn’t have to be real Champagne) with a dash of cassis makes a winning Kir Royale – my favourite cocktail. Mmmm…delicious.

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Finally, you’ve got to set the mood with the music. Some of the best Christmas songs are from the 50s – ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ by Bobby Helms (the original version, 1957), ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ by Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters (1951) and ‘Santa Baby’ by Eartha Kitt (the original version, 1953).

Also I know it’s a 1963 album, but my favourite Christmas album of all time has to be the classic ‘A Christmas Gift to You’ from Phil Spector. You can’t beat The Ronnettes’ version of ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ and ‘Sleigh Ride’. Awesome

So there we have it –all the ingredients you need to host your 1950s Christmas drinks party! All you need now is that gorgeous 50s frock to match.

My mum is away in New York for her regular post on Monday, so your next instalment on the blog will be Wednesday. I’ve got a fab real wedding to show you all.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Charlie x ♣

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