Over the weekend we were lucky enough to gather some of our friends at our apartment for a cozy afternoon of holiday celebration. When they happen, these gatherings involve lots of preparations in the kitchen, hope that someone will show up and then enjoyment of all the good people and food that we were somehow able to get together in one place.

I also consider hosting people as an opportunity to try new recipes and make lots of food that I might not get to make otherwise. It wasn’t easy to find all the time I wanted to pull this together but in small doses throughout the week and a couple of evenings I got (almost) everything done. We had soft pretzels with mustard and cheese sauce, cranberry salsa and tortilla chips, tater tots with homemade ketchup, roasted vegetables, cheese and crackers, mini chocolate souffle cupcakes, olive oil cake with dark chocolate and rosemary, and hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.

It is fun for me to go the trouble of making all this food from scratch, though it is certainly not necessary. Ray and I collaborated on some of the recipes and getting the house ready for our guests. A party on a winter afternoon is such a good thing. Despite the fact that I had little time between getting home from work and the time our guests would arrive it was nice to have our house filled with companionable warmth as the daylight faded. We got to enjoy our lingering guests and still be in bed early.

I do enjoy having people over, but it is often too easy not to put ourselves out there this way. Fortunately when we do, it is always worthwhile and delightful.