Throwing a Christmas Party

Location: Hosting your friends at your home

Recommended time: An evening a week or two before Christmas

The Perfect Pair: A pitcher of bourbon apple cider and a table full of snacks


For the past three years, I’ve thrown a Christmas party and invited quite a few of our friends. For us, hosting is a way where we can bring all the people we love together and spend quality time together. The holidays are a great time to do this, especially before everyone goes and spends time with family. Our friends are family and we love to celebrate our friendships with them this time of year. We also consider hosting to be the sweetest of Christmas gifts. As someone who loves to host, I definitely feel like I get better at the planning, cooking, and setting up every time I do something like this. That’s why we’re doing this today. We would like to give our tips and tricks and menu advice, so that it is easier for you to host a party of your own!

The first thing I do is send out the invites and start thinking of the menu. We like to use Paperless Post for the invite because online invitations are so easy and people are more likely to RSVP. You can totally use Evite or Facebook, or really anything you want. Paperless Post has just been my preference. As people RSVP, I’ll adjust the menu or even consider allergies and preferences for the food and drinks. I’m not saying go crazy, use discretion and maybe let what you know about people help guide what you were already going to provide anyways.

After I make the menu and do all the wonderful shopping, (does anyone love grocery shopping as much as us?!) I make a schedule for when the heck I am going to get it all done. As a Type A person in disguise, this is necessary. I figure out what prepwork I can do earlier in the week or even the day before. Anything to help lessen the the busyness of the day of. The day before, I lay out my table and serving dishes. That way the serving dishes that need it can be cleaned and I can make sure there is a place for everything. Once I have it like I like it, I add in little pieces of paper that say what will go in it. It helps keep me organized day of and not forget something in the fridge. It also makes it so easy if you have someone helping you put it all out.

I tend to go super overboard with food but, oh well! We can eat on the leftovers the next couple of days and I usually send the last people to leave home with a few things as well.


This year I made:

  • A cheese and charcuterie board- a must have for sure!
  • Bacon blue cheese puffs
  • Buffalo chicken sliders
  • A green chile cheese ball
  • A veggie tray and humus
  • Carmelized onion brie phyllo cups
  • Bruschetta
  • Spicy Chipotle Honey Meatballs
  • Dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting
    Peanut butter blossom cookies
  • Dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting
  • Peanut butter blossom cookies


As for drinks we usually have beer, wine, sangria, and a fun cocktail (this year we had two cocktails because we couldn’t decide). As for the beer selection, this year we went Shiner and Miller Light. Shiner because ‘Texas forever’ and it is always good to have a dark and a light beer. If we would have bought more, we would have gone with something Christmasy like St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale. We always make a holiday sangria because it is fun and festive and the fruit always looks so beautiful. As for the wine selection, I buy more red wine than white wine. We typically go with these varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. There are obviously a million options on what to serve, but those are all of our friends’ favorites, so those are what work for us. If you’re buying multiple bottles of one type, it is totally not necessary to buy different bottles. Find what you like and stick with it. Cocktails. Yummy. We like to pre mix cocktails before the party in pretty pitchers, that way we know exactly how much liquor is going into it. Also we don’t make too much to start, because unlike beer and wine, you’re stuck with what you make and you can always make more. This year we made two bourbon drinks, a bourbon apple cider sour and a whiskey sour with cranberry. We also jazzed up our ice cubes because it makes it look a little nicer.

As far as activities, we always have a white elephant at the end of the night. Completely optional, but always a blast. We do a max of $10 for gifts and people are so creative. It gets a little intense when the stealing is in full force. Also, my perfectly paired pal surprised us with a snapchat filter for the party! It was so exciting to see!

Can’t wait to see all of the wonderful parties y’all host for your friends this holiday season or what tips or ideas you use to help you host a shower or housewarming. The opportunities for hosting are limitless. We’ll be hosting any chance we get and building community one cheese board at a time.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Brews and Bowl Season

Location: St. Arnold Beer Garden and Restaurant

Preferred time: Saturday afternoons

The Perfect pair: Mucho Meatcho Pizza and a Christmas Ale (because it’s practically Christmas)

The weather has been Auuuhhh-mazing lately and every Saturday has us looking for a place to spend all day outside. The past few weekends that we’re not outside on our patios drinking wine, going on walks, or playing Spikeball, we’re at Saint Arnold’s Beer Garden and Restaurant drinking beer and watching football with friends.  If you haven’t been there since they recently opened the new outdoor beer garden portion, you are missing out. It really is an amazing setup and the view of downtown Houston is STUNNING. They have long tables, small tables, beer barrels to stand around and honestly little places to post up all over the place. There is also plenty of parking, which is a plus. They’ve even got lawn games like cornhole and Bocce ball, which are so fun when your with a group of friends, or if you want to make some new friends.

One con is that they don’t have tv’s all over the place to watch multiple games at the same time. But we feel this could also be a pro. There are not tv’s all over the place crowding or clouding the incredible view of downtown. Also, it helps you really enjoy your time there with friends, catering your time together to great conversation. There is one massive screen though towards the far side of the space. They always have the biggest game for Houstonians on and we’ve found it so fun to be watching the same game as everyone else there creating a great atmosphere.  

Now for the good stuff. Food and Drink. We honestly love all of Saint Arnold’s beers. Right now, the favorite is the Christmas Ale because it is seasonal and wonderful. Some classics are the Fancy Lawnmower and Santo and are worth a try if you haven’t yet. We also just found out (probably late to the news because…wine is our thang) but Weedwacker has been packaged for the last time. Get it while you can if you can find some still in stores! We ordered pizza because it is the greatest (because cheese), filling shareable and it was so good! We chose the Mucho Meatcho and the Flanders. Both so yum. Would recommend. We also ordered the queso and some good ole french fries and they were great as well. You can walk up to the bar to order, or wait for a waiter or waitress to come to your table. Tabs are on the mobiles they carry around and it is so easy to close out. They also send your order as soon as you place it and it comes to the table way faster than you would expect for the crowd that is there. Makes a huge place like this way less stressful.

If you’re looking for a place to spend a wonderful afternoon one day during your upcoming time off, then this is the place. Have family coming into town and want a place to watch a bowl game and play some lawn games with a beer in your hand while showing off your beautiful city? Also a great place for that. You’ll have a blast.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

A Throwback to the Good Old Days

The Perfect Pair

Location: BCK Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures

Recommended Time: Happy Hour!

Perfect Pair: Dr. Feelgood and Mac N’ Cheez It®

Happy Hour is one of our favorite times of the week, but this place really out did themselves. BCK’s whole goal is to make you remember your childhood, whether it is from the menu items that make you feel a little nostalgic or the old movies they have playing in the background. We absolutely loved going to happy hour here! Not only did we leave thinking we needed to come back to try everything on the menu, but it was so fun! The nostalgic menu choices brought about great conversation about our childhood, and let us get to know each other even better than we already did. The servers were also super friendly and had great recommendations on what to order for our first visit. We took all of his suggestions and boy were we satisfied! Our strategy for Happy Hour this week was to order drinks and food that were included in the happy hour specials and then move on to those that weren’t included when happy hour ended. This seems to be a super logical strategy, but this might have been the first time that we really planned this out before ordering.

Happy Hour Drinks!

So let’s get down to what even is on the menu. We ordered the Sweet n’ Sour Meatballs and the Street Corn from the starters during happy hour. The tastes were super different, but oh so good. I’m not usually a huge fan of meatballs, but the sweet and sour sauce on them made them extra tasty. The street corn was absolutely to die for, great flavors of corn and cheese and whatever cream they put on top. When happy hour ended (at 6pm), we switched to items that were not included in the happy hour specials. We ordered what quickly became our favorite side, the Mac N’ Cheez It. It was so good we ordered 2 of them. Think your favorite creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese topped with a classic childhood snack of Cheez It’s®. We also ordered the burger to round out our “super healthy” meal. It was a good old fashioned burger, nothing too fancy about it, but you don’t need to mess with a classic burger. We were too full to try anything else, but there was so much more we wanted to try – especially some of the desserts.

The Dr. Feelgood!

Now onto the drinks, even these bring back your childhood! My favorite soda still to this day is Dr. Pepper, so when we saw a cocktail that had DP in it and came in a DP can – we could not resist. Sadly, the Dr. Feelgood, as BCK has cleverly named it, is not on the happy hour menu. We ordered things from the HH menu first, but then moved on to the fun twist on a Dr. Pepper. The happy hour menu includes classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule, Sazerac, Negroni, Old Fashioned, and some other staples. We went for the Mule and Negroni and enjoyed them a lot. For other drinks that are not included in Happy Hour, they throw it back to your childhood with an adult twist. One of these cocktails has Orange Crush, one with Captain Crunch Milk, and of course our favorite Dr. Pepper.

Cheers!

We absolutely loved BCK and can’t wait to go back. From the delicious menu items, friendly and helpful staff, and the atmosphere perfect for reminiscing on the good old days, this new Heights hot spot is for sure going to make the regular rotation.

Where are you going for happy hour this week?!

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

The “Fullest” Holiday of the Year

Location: Home Sweet Home!

Perfect Pair: Friends, Wine, and Sweet Potato Casserole

The best holiday of the year is finally here, and we refuse to skip over it like some people are starting to do. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for gathering around the table, having great conversation, and just spending time with friends and family! We love Thanksgiving because there isn’t the pressure of what gifts to buy or the perfect wrapping, but rather a time for good food and good wine. We also love the new trend of Friendsgiving. Another reason to celebrate this fun holiday, and this time with friends.

We have been doing Friendsgiving with our friends for the past three years and think we have it down to a science. Here’s how to throw the PERFECT Friendsgiving:

First, find a place to host. It can be just about anywhere – apartments, homes, backyards, or even the park. You don’t even have to have a table to sit around – sometimes sitting on the floor in a circle eating off paper plates can be even better than nice plates at a table. Last year we even pulled up 20 chairs around a ping pong table!

Don’t Forget the Wine!

Next, invite your friends and come up with a list of the things you want people to bring. We have found that the best way to organize this and avoid having 10 green bean casseroles is to have a Google Doc. We like to put a list of items including, turkey, sides, salad, rolls, desserts, etc. then let everyone sign up for what they would like to bring. We have also found that it is helpful to be specific with which sides we are bringing, but we are always sure to include the classics. Our friends are known to go all out for this kind of thing and we will get quite the variety of sides and family recipes. It is so fun to be able to try everyone’s favorite dish from growing up. It also is a great way to get to know about each person’s family traditions and the way they celebrated this special holiday. Of course, any gathering would not be complete without wine. This year everyone brought their favorite wine, a great way to try new things!

Last, ENJOY! This is such a fun day and should be a relaxed way to celebrate the holiday. Don’t worry about the perfect outfit, the fancy decorations, or any other little details. The important thing about this celebration is that you are with friends. The food will be great, the wine should be flowing, and the laughs will follow close behind.

A very happy plate!

We wish you the Happiest Thanksgiving filled with full stomachs, full plates, laughs, and great memories!

Let us know what your favorite things are about the holiday and any tips and tricks for hosting a Friendsgiving!

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

A New Classic Houston Eatery

Location: The Classic All Day

Preferred time: A late happy hour that turns into dinner

The Perfect Pair: Black and White Hummus and a bottle of the Colomé Malbec

File_001The Classic All Day is a relatively new eatery in town located right on Washington Ave. It replaced Benjy’s, (don’t worry the Benjy’s in Rice Village is still open) as a new concept from the restaurateur Benjy Levit. He is also behind Local Foods, a lunch and dinner staple for us. Each place reminiscent of the other, but with different vibes. The Classic has a retro feel. The best way for us to put it into words is that we felt we needed a special occasion to go to Benjy’s for dinner, which is part of the reason we always just went there for happy hour, but Classic feels like it could be for a special occasion dinner OR a wonderful place to casually show up if you didn’t feel like cooking. The dishes at The Classic, although they have flavors from all over the world, feel homey and comfortable. You can order anything from a classic burger to Mushroom Casarecci to Steak Frites.

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The Pals went to the Classic for a happy hour that turned into staying for dinner… classic. For starters, we ordered the Black and White Hummus and the Crispy Brussel Sprouts. The hummus was wonderful! The pickled veggies on top really brightened it up and made it feel like a full fledged snack. The pita bread that it came with was also sooooo good. It also seems to have come with enough Pita. We hate when the ratio is off and it seems that it always is! Does anyone else hate it when there aren’t enough crackers, chips, or bread pieces to even finish the dip!?! It’s the worst and we’re so glad it didn’t happen here. Plenty of pita for all the yummy goodness. The brussels sprouts were fantastic. We know not everyone is a fan of brussels sprouts and until about 2 years ago we pretty much were stubbornly avoiding them at all costs. Now, we are obsessed and have them any chance we get. Bonus: ordering them at a restaurant is great because your house won’t smell from you cooking them! Okay, so back to their brussels sprouts. They are covered in yummy goodies like honey-balsamic, gruyere cheese, and pomegranate seeds. They are a little sweeter than anticipated, but we recommend you order them because they rock.

File_007Drinks. Of course we are going to talk about drinks. They have tasty cocktails that range from $9-$12, beer, and wine by the glass, 2 glass bottle, or bottle. Happy hour runs from 4-7pm.  The variety of drinks on their happy hour is great. They have glasses of wine, bottles of wine, beer, and cocktails all at reduced prices. We did end up ordering our bottle of wine off of the wine list and not the happy hour due to the two bottles on happy hour not fitting what we were looking for taste wise and we did want the full bottle. We will have to go back and order the Gin and Juice on the happy hour though, we are so intrigued!

For dinner, we split the classic burger.It was delicious and perfect for us to split after the shareables for the table. Delicious. It hit the spot for sure. We are big fans of a classic burger and this fit the bill.

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Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals