Simple, Seasonal Celebrations, Gatherings & Get-togethers
The holidays are behind us and winter is in full-swing—really, is there a better month for a party than February? Between shaking off the winter blues to hosting a little get-together to keep the merriment going, this month is the perfect time to gather the gang for something a little more creative—and a little more decadent, of course.
THIS MONTH’S ENTERTAINING DRINKS AND RECIPE MUST-TRY
One word: chocolate. February is, of course, all about Valentine’s Day—more on that to come—but why not keep the delicious spirit alive all month long with some sweet, sometimes savory chocolate sips, snacks and centerpieces? Everyone loves chocolate, and everyone loves a sweet way to indulge before, during and after the Valentine’s Day festivities. Some suggestions?
- Three words: Hot. Chocolate. Bar. Have carafes of hot cocoa at the ready, and beside them are bowls of flavored marshmallows, caramels, peppermint chips, coconuts, sprinkles and whipped cream. And to stir it all together? Have edible stirrers—think peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks and pirouettes.
Fondue is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. The simplest method? Use your crockpot. Combine chocolate, cream, milk, vanilla and salt, and cook on high for 30 minutes. After that, whisk and set to low. Bonus points for adding in a little Kahlua, bourbon or liqueur. And for creative dip-ins try doughnut holes, marshmallows and brownie bites.
- Whip up a hybrid dessert—think Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies, S’more Stuffed Cookies or Chocolate Pudding Bars. Not only are they delicious, but no one has to choose their fave—even better!
- Too cold for s’mores? Lightly butter an oven-safe dish, then layer on chocolate, top with marshmallows and bake until the top starts to lightly brown. Serve with graham crackers, strawberry skewers and cookies for dipping.
- Popcorn + chocolate = a match made in February entertaining heaven. Whether it’s a Big Game snack or bagged up and sent home with guests post-party, this salty-and-sweet treat is the perfect for those cold February days and nights. Pop up some popcorn or buy it premade, then mix with M&Ms, chocolate chips, white chocolate pieces or any other go-to chocolate treat and, instantly, you’ve got the perfect party snack.
#1. VALENTINE’S DAY
It wouldn’t be February without a little Valentine’s Day celebration.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Our advice? Don’t be afraid to get a little kitschy. Have classic—and slightly silly—movies playing on loop, like Grease, 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless, and be sure you have all of the requisite holiday decor in full effect (and, no, you can’t possibly have too many cupids or red balloons…).
The key to a great Valentine’s Day party is ensuring everyone has something to do, starting with the littlest guests. Hide Hershey Kisses around the house and see who can find the most, or set up a Valentine station, complete with paper, crayons, glitter, stickers, feathers and other fun V-Day add-ons—then, let the kids have at it. Moms and dads can enjoy the festivities, while the kids enjoy rolling up their sleeves and digging into the spirit of the holiday.
Another great all-ages crowd pleaser? Simple photo booth-style props guests can use to style the perfect Valentine’s Day selfie. Get the goods at any party store, or print out the basics: hearts, arrows, top hats, goofy grins and champagne bottles, for starters.
The final step, of course, is the menu. The great thing about Valentine’s Day parties is that you’re under no obligation to serve up a full meal—even sweets-only is acceptable. Consider asking guests to bring their favorite seasonal dessert or snack, or build out your menu starting with these V-Day must-haves:
- Red velvet cupcakes, cake or cookies
- Conversation hearts and seasonal M&Ms
- Chocolate-dipped fruit, including strawberries, bananas and mango slices
- Black forest cake
- Strawberry tarts
- Pink or heart-shaped Rice Krispie Treats
- Candy cookie cups
- Pretzels dipped in chocolate, then sprinkled with pink and red or heart-shaped sprinkles
- Pink-sprinkled doughnuts—make a batch or snag a dozen at your local bakery
- Sugar cookies decorated with Valentine’s Day twists and toppings
And don’t forget the champagne and fruit—the ultimate Valentine’s Day must-have! Have flutes filled and waiting when guests arrive, then encourage them to “top off” with a berry or two.
P.S. if you’re looking for a Valentine’s day just for two, why not make it a romantic night in? Check out this blog with 7 easy tips to make it a magical night!
#2. FAMILY DAY
February 19th is Family Day in Canada. Even if you’re south of the border, consider this your call-to-action to celebrate with your crew. And because Family Day falls on President’s Day, there’s a good chance you and your family will be home and looking for something to do...
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Family Day started in Canada in 1990, with the intent of creating a pause between New Year’s and Easter that families could spend together. While not all territories celebrate Family Day, several do—and it’s a tradition we’d love to see take shape in the U.S.
To get in the Family Day spirit, gather the people closest to you—your immediate family, extended family and even friends. If they’re part of your inner circle, they get an invite to this togetherness-focused event.
What better way to celebrate Family Day then by whipping up the foods YOUR family likes best. Ask each member of your family to choose their favorite dish—or pull together a menu based on how well you know your crew. Don’t worry if the dishes don’t go together—no one has ever complained about a meal made up of mac and cheese, pizza bites, spinach dip and Mom’s Famous Brownies…
The most important thing about Family Day? Spending time as a family. Once the dishes have been cleared—or, even, during the big meal—layer in a fun family activity that reminds you of all the great times you’ve had together. Some good go-tos?
Watch old family videos or slideshows—the funnier, the better
Build out that much overdue family scrapbook. With so many hands, it should be done in no time—just be sure to have photos or print outs, memorabilia and other essentials like scissors, paste, stickers and markers at the ready so your family can dive right in.
- Play Family Charades. Each person acts out a scene from a favorite family story or event. The most correct guesses wins! An alternative? The family version of the Newlywed Game (aptly named The Family Game), which tests how well your relatives really know each other. Another good go-to? Trivial Pursuit. Opt for the classic edition, complete with a retro game board and 2,400 questions—plenty to keep even the most competitive families busy.
- Do something—anything!—that your family enjoys. Really, the sky’s the limit—bowling, movies, karaoke, sledding, baking. If you and your family love it, DO IT. It’s Family Day, and your family deserves to take centerstage.