Entertaining year round is a favorite past time of mine, but there’s something special about hosting holidays, especially Christmas. I enjoy hosting a Christmas Eve dinner for family, friends, and anyone who may not have somewhere to spend the evening. It’s become a tradition over the years for us to enjoy an Italian feast, and then we load our cars up with blankets, hats, gloves, food and alcohol (yes, beer, whiskey, vodka, etc.) that we’ve collected over the prior weeks and head to homeless hangouts and hand out these items. We started this in Ohio years ago with our kids, heading to downtown Cleveland, and have continued the tradition here in downtown St. Petersburg. In 2004, the year Jack and I both lost our mothers, our children were with their other parents on Christmas Eve, and I hadn’t been in a very festive mood during December, but when the evening rolled around, I looked at Jack and said that I didn’t want to miss our tradition. He reminded me that we hadn’t collected our normal stash throughout the month. I thought, briefly, and said that I had another idea. We’ll never forget that night, especially Jack. We handed out $1,000 in 20’s. It was magical!
Anyway, in most recent years the Italian tradition has become a menu I can prepare mostly in advance so that I can enjoy the evening with our guests rather than scurrying around the kitchen as I had in years past. We start with an antipasto plate of Genoa salami, shaved prosciutto, melon, Cacio de Roma and fresh mozzarella cheeses, olives, grilled vegetables and crusty bread, all from Mazarro’s Italian Market here in St. Petersburg (with a Pittsburgh connection).
I love to set a beautiful table, using my Fiestaware, in a variety of colors, and festive lines that I collect. The meal is a chopped salad, winter greens lasagna and lasagna bolognese. Something for everyone, and you can do much of the work in advance so you can join the party. Here are the recipes for you to try:
What do you enjoy on Christmas Eve? Traditions, and food? Please share with us. I’ll be sharing dessert ideas, along with other holiday menus, over the next few weeks, so stay tuned, and thank you for reading.