I suck at holidays. I'm no good at small talk, I’m even worse in the kitchen, plus I have food allergies. Yet, I am beholden to endure the formalities of holiday potlucks, parties and other obligatory forms of merriment year after goddamned year. The following are a series of little tricks I have picked up to hide my inner grinch and make it look like I’m into all the ’tis the season bullsh*t that everyone else also pretends to enjoy. Hope you like!
1. . Cheese Plates
Cooking is for suckers, especially when the fine folks at Whole Foods are more than happy to help you pick out a couple of fancy cheeses. Just add plate, crackers, et voila! You’ve brought an appetizer.
2. . Anything In A Crockpot
If you happen to want to fit in with those suckers who cook, do it in a crock pot! You basically put a bunch of sh*t in a $20 crockpot in the morning/early afternoon, and by the time you have to go to your stupid awkward party, you’ve got a warm dish that reminds everyone of their mama. Note: most people's mamas are super hip to the crockpot trick. They’ve been stu-ing it for years, and we always eat it up.
3. . Tie A Balloon On It
Want your cheap bottle of wine to stand out? Tie a balloon on it! What kind of monster doesn't love a balloon. Bonus: you can usually buy said balloon at the same grocery store where you got the wine.
4. . Green Beans
Guys, you can cook green beans in the microwave with pre-packaged sliced almonds, and that’s technically following the recipe. No, seriously, microwave-steaming veggies is what you are supposed to do. Add butter and garlic, and you are a cullinary goddess.
5. . Jump In And Do Dishes Even If No One Asks You To
Especially if you were that ass-bag who couldn’t manage to bring anything to the party, doing dishes helps you not look like a schmuck in no time. This is an especially good technique when meeting in-laws for the first time because it allows you to physically leave the room and take a break from awkward conversation without tipping your hand. Speaking of awkward conversation….
6. . When In Doubt, Talk To The Old People
The older the better! If you’re lucky, a single question to a grandparent will get you out of conversation for the rest of the night. You don’t even have to pretend you’re interested. Just keep your gaze in the old person’s general direction and nod if you feel like it’s been too long since you moved.
7. . Pre-Batch A Cocktail
It can be as simple as cheap bourbon with cinnamon sticks, orange slices and half a cup of sugar. Bringing a cocktail makes you de facto alcohol master of the night, so it’s totally expected for you to have a drink in your hand at all times. You're welcome.
8. . Fill Leftover Sh*t With Leftover Candy
I’m talking mugs, tiny boxes… mostly those two things. Oh! You can sprinkle candy on the table or put it in bowls throughout the house. Go to the dollar store, buy a bunch of half price halloween candy, pick up some mugs and you have party favors for everyone. And if you really want to get festive, see number three on this list, and do that to the mugs, too.
9. . Pine Cone Sign Holders
The thought of hosting Thanksgiving at my house makes me throw up in my mouth, but if you happen to find yourself in this particularly stressful situation and live in a place where pine cones are naturally occurring, you can use them to hold index cards that say peoples’ names, or label a dish as gluten-free. Glittering the pinecones is extra festive, but optional, as it is a well known fact that using glitter is like inviting vampire into your home. If it happens once, there’s absolutely no going back.
10. . Wine Bottle As Rolling Pin
Again, this assumes the nightmare situation where you are hosting a party at your house, but it is also a pretty bad ass trick, and will save you a couple of bucks at Crate and Barrel when you’re frantically buying kitchen supplies to try to fool your parents into thinking you live like an adult.
11. . Open A Jar With Duct Tape
Too lazy to open a jar for your potluck this year? Put duct tape around the top, then pull! It should open it. And if not, you finally have a reason to talk to that new neighbor of yours… knock knock… who’s there… Ragu….Ragu who?…I didn’t know you were a poet. Why don’t you invite me inside and we can talk more about your hopes and dreams over dinner. If you want, we can open a bottle of “rolling pin” and make it a really intimate night.
12. . Paper Towel Chill A Beer
The only thing worse than drinking a warm beer is having to cook when you are sober. Wrap a beer (or a soda or whatever) in a cold, wet paper towel, toss it in the freezer, and it will be mountain fresh in about five minutes.
13. . Deviled Eggs and Tiny Cheese Sandies
One time, I was forced into the uncomfortable situation of feeding a bunch of rich and important people at my house, and I was in charge of appetizers. These two items stole the f*cking show and were easy as pie… no, wait… they were significantly easier than pie. Deviled eggs are mustard, mayo and paprika, and cheese sandies with mayo on white bread cut into tiny crustless rectangles make people feel like they are dining with the queen.