Our kids always look forward to our annual holiday party, and this year we decided to go bigger than usual. Since my due date was just a few days before our middle son’s birthday earlier this year, we decided to skip any big birthday parties, and instead the boys got to invite more of their friend to the holiday party. We had a $100 party budget, and we had invited about 15 grown ups with kids.
A big party usually means more stress, but thanks to ALDI, it was easy to eliminate the usual hostess stress. With four kids to keep an eye on, including our baby girl, plus the fact that I am still recovering from surgery, I really had to make a concerted effort to minimalize and decrease the work load. Inspired by the ALDI holiday catalog as well as some old favorites, we created a simple buffet style party menu with minimal preparation but with maximum taste and decadence.
Since the guests list was bigger this year, we decided to move our holiday party down the road to our favorite neighborhood park. The parked is completely fenced it, which gave more freedom to the moms, whereby they could enjoy the holiday treats and chit chat in a stress-free environment.
We spent an hour grocery shopping at our local South Florida ALDI store on Thursday morning, Thursday afternoon the kids and I baked cupcakes, and throughout the week I boxed up everything we needed and gathered it together on our coffee table. By the time our youngest son got home from school on Friday, we simply loaded the mini van and headed down the street.
Our neighborhood park has a great pavilion with six tables, which is much more table space than we have at home. This created the perfect opportunity for a buffet table, a craft table and plenty of seating space for the guests. We even had a dreidel table, where one of the moms continued her tradition of teaching the kids (and parents) the Hanukkah game of spinning the dreidel.
Spinning the dreidel
Our holiday party was in fact a multi-cultural, multi-religious holiday party, as our guests come from all corners of the world. This is essential South Florida living, and chit chat usually takes place across the tables in both English and Spanish.
We started out with some light appetizers such as garden vegetable crackers with regular or spicy salami, rosemary entertainer crackers with Havarti cheese, wheat crackers with Happy Farms spreadable cheese and pigs in a blanket made with cocktail sausages and ready-made pie crust. The Savoritz 6 cracker assortment is our go-to crackers for any party, because there are something for every taste, and these crackers are perfect for ALDI’s great-tasting, but affordable high-quality cheese.
To get everyone in the holiday spirit, the kids had a blast with the “Santa Hat Game”. Before the party started, we had hidden six santa hats around the park area, and each santa hat had a task inside. After the kids found all of the santa hats, they had to do the tasks team-work style. The tasks included singing a holiday song, singing the months of the year song, the ABC song and counting to 30. Since a lot of our little guests were from our youngest son’s pre k class, the tasks emphasized on the skills they had been learning in school. When all tasks had been performed, I brought out a big bag full of goodie bags for the kids. Each bag had goodies such as holiday pencils, Andes chocolate, Choceur solid holiday chocolates and smarties. I was thrilled to find that both the Andes chocolate and the smarties were gluten and nut free.
For desserts we had made cupcakes from Baker’s Corner cake mixes such as Devil’s Food and Angel Cake, and we decorated them with colorful Baker’s Corner Frosting and sprinkles. These were very budget-friendly and time-friendly desserts, as the Baker’s Corner cake mixes are only $0.99, and the icing is only $1.29.
We also made special allergy friendly egg-free and dairy free mini-cupcakes, as one of the guests had severe allergies. I simply substituted the eggs with 1/4 cup of apple sauce per egg. The first batch turned out a bit too soggy, so I added another 1/2 cup of flour to the batch, and the mini cupcakes turned out to be perfect.
Besides the three different types of cupcakes, we also served Choceur Cocoa Dusted Truffles, which were so delicious that they disappeared, before I even got to take a photo. Another big hit at the party was the Belmont Petite Cheesecake Sampler. These mini cheesecakes were so rich and flavorful that it was difficult to limit yourself to one.
Thanks to ALDI we also had some great prizes for the grown-ups, so we decided to have an egg run for grown-ups and an egg-run for the kids. Everyone got prizes. The kids could choose from wrapped gifts, and there were everything from Halloween costumes, to toys, and chocolate Christmas calendars from ALDI. The grown-ups received ALDI gift certificates and chocolate, and it was a lot of fun for everyone.
Of course, we could not have a holiday party without fruit, and thankfully we found some great prices at ALDI. This week the pineapples are only $1.29! In our $100 grocery budget, we found room for grapes, tangerines, blueberries, raspberries and pineapple. The sweet Zima tomatoes were also a hit, and the sweet mini peppers were perfect for the cheese crackers. The Happy Farms cheese wedges were also a hit with both the kids and the grown ups, and at $1.29 per pack, these are always a staple at our parties. Another hit with the kids were the Happy Farms cheese cubes, and the Colby Jack cheese cubes were quickly gone.
I set out to have a stress-less holiday party, and it turned out to be just that. The baby was either in her stroller or in a playpen under the pavilion in the middle of all of the tables, and my kids feel as if this little neighborhood park is their backyard, so I had lots of time to focus on the guests. The buffet style holiday budget made everything easier, and hosting the holiday party in our neighborhood park made clean up before and after the holiday party a breeze.
Out of the 15 grown ups with children, we had 8 moms show up with 15 kids plus our own four kids. Thanks to ALDI , there was plenty of food, drinks and special treats for everyone, and we even included tableware in our $100 party budget.
You can check out the latest ALDI deals, weekly ad and their ALDI holiday catalog at the ALDI website. ALDI is closed on Thanksgiving, so make sure to get your shopping done, while you can. Fin the latest ALDI holiday foods and more here.
Disclaimer: ALDI provided the Frugality Is Free family with gift certificate to host a summer party