Top 7 Holiday Party Appetizers & Hors D'oeuvres for Your San Diego Home or Office

Top 7 Holiday Party Appetizers & Hors D'oeuvres for Your San Diego Home or Office

It's never too early to start planning an extraordinary holiday party. The more thought and effort you put into the experience, the more rewarding and enjoyable it will be for your guests. Whether you're accustomed to entertaining friends and family at the house for the holiday season or you're looking to plan an office celebration to impress and commemorate the season, making sure you've got the perfect menu is pivotal. For holiday parties, that starts with the hors d'oeuvres.

Here's a list of seven splendid hors d'oeuvres that are perfect for any holiday party in your San Diego home or office.

  1. Chilled oysters. They're a selection of east and west coast oysters with tarragon mignonette, house-made cocktail sauce, horseradish and lemon wedges. Oysters can be an acquired taste depending on where you're from. But introducing them to your family or sharing them with co-workers can be a memorable experience.

  2. Lamb meatball skewer. Best served with dill yogurt, these meatball skewers are a play on a popular holiday crockpot favorite. The lamb meat is much leaner and healthier than most traditional meats used in the dish, and it provides a uniquely flavorful take on the dish for your holiday party guests.

  3. Bacon-wrapped dates. Bacon-wrapped anything is a fixture for the holidays, and either pineapple or water chestnuts are some of the most popular renditions. But the sweet and salty union of bacon-wrapped dates is a flavor revolution all on its own.

  4. Butternut squash and goat cheese dip. This comfort food dip is best served with garlic crostini and house-made crackers. It's another flavor combination that exemplifies the holiday season and is sure to spark the curiosity of your team or family members.

  5. Shrimp agua chile. If you're looking to spice things up a little for your holiday party appetizer menu, try this harmony of wild white shrimp, cucumber-cilantro-lime dressing, radishes, and onions. Served with organic white corn chips for dipping, it's a crunchy and delicious holiday treat with a little kick.

  6. Hot smoked wild salmon. These scrumptious salmon bites are served with a dill crème fraiche on a small piece of pumpernickel toast. Pumpernickel bread is a holiday favorite, and your holiday party guests are sure to appreciate this thoughtful seafood twist on it.

  7. Grilled vegetable platter. Most holiday parties will feature a vegetable platter of the typical baby carrot, celery, broccoli or cherry tomato variety. But if you really want to impress your holiday party guests, try mixing it up with a totally different collection of unique veggies. Try it with grilled eggplant, squash, peppers or mushrooms. What's more, mix up that boring veggie dip with a zesty balsamic marinade!

San Diego holiday party menus are exciting to plan because they can pull from many different traditions and can be put in concert with several different food trends. Whoever you're looking to entertain this coming holiday season, we hope that this list of hors d'oeuvres can spark some inspiration and your guests' holiday spirit.

Contact the holiday party catering experts at Urban Solace Catering here or via phone at 858.264.5780 for more insight on creating the perfect menu for your home or office celebration.

How to Host a Diner en Blanc-Style Event

Hosting An Elegant All-White Party

Summer is in full swing, and that means that outdoor summer parties are also popping up everywhere you look.  If you are looking to host an outdoor summer party in the next couple of months but are unsure of how to make your event a memorable one, we have the perfect event theme for you: an unforgettable outdoor all-white summer event.

Bringing the White-Themed Event to Life

When we say “all-white,” we mean all-white.  Find white versions of all of these traditional party necessities to truly bring your all-white party theme to life.

  • Tablecloths and linen napkins
  • Tables and chairs
  • Candles and ribbons
  • Decorations and flowers
  • Plates and glasses
  • Menu items and beverages

Putting It All Together

Start with your tablescapes, and use this list to make your all-white outdoor event a smashing success.

  • Using solid white tables, white tablecloths, white linen napkins, white dinner plates and white-dusted or white-rimmed drinking and wine glasses, set your tables to suit the number of guests you are expecting to attend.
  • Utilize white chairs to match the tables and table dressings.
  • Decorate your table with white candles (placed in white or silver candle holders) and plenty of arrangements of white flowers (see below).
  • Adorn any décor items with white ribbons.
  • Carry the white theme into the rest of your white outdoor summer party decorations, including strands of white lights and plenty of white floral arrangements, among other items.

Need a little help figuring out white flowers? Use any of these all-white beauties:

  • Carnations
  • Daisies
  • Lilies
  • Roses
  • Forget-Me-Nots
  • Mayflowers
  • White Violets
  • Dogwood flowers
  • Mountain Laurels
  • Baby’s Breath
  • White Vervain

The All-White Menu

Work with your caterer to discuss the potential of having an all-white menu for your elegant white outdoor summer party.  Utilize all-white food items like these when discussing your white outdoor summer party foods:

  • Baskets (lined with white linen napkins) filled with slices of white bread
  • Grilled chicken breast or grilled fish as a main entrée
  • White-filled sides of white rice, cauliflower or other white-colored items (all seasoned for some extra flavor, of course).

An All-White Summer Beverage Bar

Offer white-themed beverages like these to go with your all-white event theme and white summer party menu:

  • Martinis made with vanilla or marshmallow vodka
  • White wines—pinot grigios, chardonnays, Rieslings and blends of those three
  • Champagnes
  • Mojitos
  • Gin and tonics
  • Vodka tonics
  • Vodka water with a lemon or lime
  • Spritzers
  • Coconut rum and lemonade
  • Pina coladas

All-White Summer Party Desserts

Make an all-white plan for your outdoor summer party desserts, too. White summer desserts like these items like will be refreshing and delicious at your all-white summer outdoor party:

  • Vanilla-based items
  • White cakes and cupcakes (topped with white frostings and white decorations)
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • Vanilla mousse
  • Vanilla yogurt parfaits with bananas and coconut
  • White whipped pies

All-White Entertainment

Every party needs entertainment, and an all-white summer party is no different.  Your guests will enjoy these elegant, entertaining activities and performers:

  • Dancing on an off-the-grass-and-dirt dance floor
  • White wine tasting
  • Wine and cheese pairings
  • Rhythmic dancers with white ribbons
  • Sparklers and light shows

Get Everyone—Even the Staff—Involved

Keep the all-white summer party theme going strong from your invitations all the way through the event and into your party favors.  Utilize any (or all!) of these tips to make your white event one to remember:

  • All-white invitations (with black or silver writing) will add a touch of elegance from the get-go.
  • Asking your guests to dress in white—from head to toe—will allow each guest to truly embody and enhance this all-white summer party theme.
  • Ask entertainers, wait staff, bar staff and anyone else who will be inside the event space throughout the party to also adhere to the all-white dress code.
  • Do not let your guests leave empty-handed.  Give them a parting gift of all-white summer party-themed items such as white-coated candies, white peppermints or butter mints, white colored sunglasses or other white-themed treats.

How to Throw a World Cup Party

Tips for Hosting the Best World Cup Party

The FIFA World Cup, the epitome of soccer events for both men’s and women’s soccer worldwide, is held every four years in a different host country and is an event in and of itself.  That means that any event held in its honor—or utilizing its theme—needs to be big, bold and, beyond all else, fun!

Here are our easy-to-follow tips for making your 2014 World Cup Party the best one around.

How to Throw a World Cup Party

1) Choose a date, location, and time for your party.

The FIFA World Cup lasts about a month as 32 teams play each other for the championship.  That being said, it’s important that you choose a particular date, time, and location for your 2014 World Cup Party.  Choose a date and time when team USA is going to be playing so that your guests can cheer on their home country in festive style.

2) Learn the game. If you aren’t a big soccer fan or if you haven’t followed previous FIFA World Cups, we recommend studying up on the game!  The FIFA World Cup website is a great place to start brushing up on who plays who, which teams are involved, and the general timeline for the World Cup event.

3) Plan your themed décor and entertainment.  It won’t be difficult to create a themed atmosphere or figure out themed entertainment for your 2014 FIFA World Cup Party.  The games themselves are the entertainment (so make sure you have some big screen televisions tuned into the matches), and all things soccer are a great way to get the decorations rolling!  Soccer balls and gear, photos of team USA and past FIFA championships, flags from soccer-focused countries around the world—all of these will help get your FIFA World Cup Party guests fully immersed in World Cup spirit.

An added bonus for decorations when you’re throwing your FIFA World Cup party: the host country for 2014 is Brazil!  That means that mixing in the green, yellow and blue flag, as well as the colors of that flag, in your World Cup party room is going to enhance the atmosphere and make your party a great one.

4) Figure out your event menu.  Keep it simple and fun.  Finger foods and fun foods are key in all sporting event-themed events—think mini burger sliders, mini hot dogs, a variety of chips, and other small-sized, fun, picnic-style items that will be easy to eat without taking eyes off the television screen.  If you really want to get in the spirit of the soccer games, try any of these traditional soccer (football) food items served at matches around the world:

  • England & Scotland—pies (meat & potato, steak & kidney, cheese & onion)
  • Argentina—Choriopan (chorizo on toasted bread)
  • Switzerland—Alpengluehn (rarebit)
  • Turkey—Eskander (Turkish lamb burgers served with yogurt and tomato salsa on grilled bread)
  • Greece—Souvlaki (marinated grilled pork skewers)
  • Italy—Panzanella (bread salad with red onions, tomatoes, capers, olives, parsley and olive oil)

Better yet, if you want to continue bringing in some host country spirit, try adding any of these traditional easy-to-eat dishes from Brazil:

  • Acarajé (fried balls of black-eyed peas stuffed with shrimp and a vinaigrette)
  • Beijinho de Coco (coconut truffles)
  • Bolinho de Chuva (fried dough balls sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar)
  • Brigadeiro (chocolate truffles covered in chocolate sprinkles)
  • Coxinhas (small round balls of fried chicken and creamy cheese)
  • Pao de Queijo (tiny bread rolls baked with cheese in the center)

Keep the excitement alive by adding a traditional Brazilian drink to your menu. The national cocktail of Brazil is called the Caipirinha (made of cachaca liquor, lime and sugar), and it will bring an extra fun, refreshing element to your World Cup party.  Learn how to make it here.

5) Set up for the event. Big televisions.  Plenty of chairs.  Tons of tables to support all of your bite-sized, fun soccer-themed foods.  Decorations encompassing the sport of soccer, team USA, the colors of the host nation of Brazil.  A drinks station filled with your guests’ favorite beverages (lemonade, beer, mixed drinks, you name it).  Once you’ve got everything in place, you’re ready for your event.

6) Enjoy and have fun!  After all of your planning and preparing, it’s time to enjoy the 2014 FIFA World Cup Party event that you’ve created.  Kick back and enjoy the world’s largest single-event sporting competition!

Elegant Outdoor Picnic Wedding Ideas in San Diego

When couples are on the fence about hosting an exquisite, elegant wedding or throwing a big picnic-style reception, there is a way that they can have the best of both worlds.

Here we share with you some of our best tips and ideas on how to plan an elegant picnic-style wedding reception.

Outdoor Picnic Wedding Venues in San Diego

When it comes to outdoor weddings in San Diego, the venue is one of the most important elements.  In addition to a beautiful setting, there are other things to consider, too, such as parking, tent options or covered areas, restrooms, paved or grassy areas, etc.  This list should help you narrow down your lengthy wedding venue list.

Elegant Picnic Wedding Spots in San Diego

Outdoor Picnic Wedding Themes in San Diego

Each of these sophisticated and stylish themes can be pulled off at a number of outdoor San Diego venue ideas.  We have included our favorite picnic wedding menus, ideas and picnic-style reception décor with each!

Beach-themed Weddings

  • Sparklers make for a beautiful sight at the end of a beach reception.
  • Serve up dishes that incorporate fresh fruits, especially in the salads.
  • The sky, the water, the décor…we love the color blue at a beach wedding.
  • Offer your sweets table under the protection of a covered patio or veranda.

Rustic Picnic Weddings

  • Focus décor efforts on tablecloths, runners and place settings.  Burlap and natural elements such as twigs and leaves are great with this theme.
  • Apples, pears, lemons—use lots of fruit in the décor!
  • Grill up some fresh sweet corn for guests to enjoy.
  • End the meal—or end the evening—with an elegant, wrapped-with-twine dessert.

Bohemian Wedding

  • String lights…everywhere!
  • Incorporate tons of different flowers in the centerpieces and around the venue.  Wildflowers are great for this theme.
  • Offer just as many (if not, more!) vegetarian options as meat options, such as fresh salads to accompany grilled seafood or grilled vegetable dishes.
  • Backyard picnic weddings can easily be turned into a Bohemian wedding paradise.

Mediterranean Picnic Wedding

  • Have butler-passed appetizers full of fresh seafood options like oysters, crab, shrimp, scallops and clams.
  • Find a venue with a covered veranda, or incorporate some vines or leafy structures into your event design to emulate a vineyard.
  • Give guests a choice of delicious grilled salmon or racks of lamb.
  • Offer fresh, Mediterranean-style salads for guests.

Contemporary-themed Picnic Wedding

  • Patios, sun decks and rooftop venues are perfect venue spaces for contemporary receptions.
  • Consider having a signature cocktail at your wedding bar.
  • Incorporate square plates for your menu items for a more modern place setting, and serve food from square, rectangle or another unusual shape.
  • Grilled on-site street tacos and quesadillas are trendy and delicious menu options!

Vintage Carnival

  • Fun foods rule at a vintage carnival-themed wedding.
  • Use elegantly-wrapped linens in whimsical patterns.
  • Serve up delicious, freshly made and elegant burgers to guests.
  • On-site cooking and roasting is an excellent touch—think chicken and accompanying dishes!

Outdoor Wedding Tips

Outdoor weddings bring their own set of opportunities and challenges.  In order to maximize the former and minimize the latter, there are ways in which you can cut down on the hassle, stress, nerves and worries, and it all stems from this: we can help!

Don’t forget these all-important outdoor wedding necessities:

  • Picnic permit.  Outdoor events at nearly all of the listed venues require some sort of permit.  The county parks most definitely require a picnic permit.  This is something with which we can help San Diegans at any venue.
  • Personalize something.  Do you envision butler-passed hors d’oeuvres?  Personalize a large toothpick for guests to use when munching on appetizers. The options are limitless!
  • Quality service is key.  If you’re going back and forth between offering additional food options or hiring an appropriate amount of staff, we always recommend going with the staff. An under-staffed event will definitely be noticed by guests.
  • Champagne toast.  We recommend incorporating a champagne toast, no matter what the theme or venue!
  • Cover up.  We recommend incorporating some sort of “weather plan.”  That might mean an inside or tented area in which guests can sit out of the sun (rain).
  • On-site cooking.  Picnic-style weddings should be interactive, and what better way to encourage interaction than on-site cooking.  We think menus cooked on-site are an awesome way to celebrate your nuptials!

25 Unique Party Theme Ideas for Kids

(that are also a blast for adults!)

Birthday parties are hugely important to kids.  Nowadays, a fun birthday party theme is almost required.  The more unique the birthday party theme the better, because in addition to having to choose a party theme that the kids will love, you often have numerous other parents and adult family members in attendance who appreciate a really well-done theme.

To help your creative process, here are some of our favorite unique party theme ideas for kids that are a blast for adults, too.

Movie and Book-Inspired

Harry Potter.  The books and movies might have concluded awhile ago, but the story is still wildly popular with all ages, as well as easily adaptable to parties.  How else can we make it fun for adults?  Jello shots in the colors of the Hogwarts houses! Source

Frozen.  This hit Grammy-winning animated movie’s humor and catchy tunes already have people laughing and singing along.  Kids and adults will love this party theme, and you can get creative with the wintery scenery.  In fact, to make it more fun for adults, try serving frozen cocktails—you can even make virgin frozen cocktails for the kiddies. 

Despicable Me.  There aren’t many things much cuter than those Despicable Me minions.  Incorporate those adorable creatures into your child’s party décor, food, favors and games.  Adults, feature special yellow cocktails, like piña coladas. Source

Dr. Seuss.  This colorful and wacky party theme is perfect for the kids—and adults, too!—who love reading Dr. Seuss classics, like Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Source

Disney Villains.  With so many Disney princess parties already in the books, it’s time to mix it up with a Disney villain party theme.  Adults can have fun dressing the part as well.  Put together a playlist of Disney songs, play a few games and name a few specialty drinks after some of your favorite Disney villains.  The parents might appreciate a Bare Necessities or any of these Disney-like cocktails. Source

Birthday Party Themes for Girls

Once Upon a Time.  Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Princess Fiona…make this theme any magical fairytale you and your daughter want it to be. Source

Pajama Brunch.  Invite all of the women in your daughter’s life for a pajama brunch.  Moms and adults can indulge in mimosas and champagne-soaked strawberries seated around the “adults” table while the girls sit at their own table and enjoy pancakes and fruit. Source

Spa Sleepover.  If your daughter and her friends are old enough for a sleepover party, invite a small group of girls over for a spa night.  Moms can have their own girls’ wine night while the children paint nails and watch movies. Source

Fairy Party.  Little girls love all things fairies.  Incorporate fairy dust and fairy magic into her birthday party theme.  Ladies, this might be fun for you: bring extra tutus, tiaras and clip-on jewelry and let the girls accessorize the men at the party.  It will be a prime photo-opt! Source

Tea Party.  Make this one a Mad Hatter party with Alice in Wonderland décor and games.  When you serve the tea to the children, have a separate tray with adult beverages, like mini margaritas in small Moroccan tea glasses in lieu of tea. Source

Birthday Party Themes for Boys

Legos.  Bring the delights of Legoland to your own backyard or party venue with a Lego-themed party.  Adults, freshen up your Lego-building skills by having your own contest against each other. Source

Justice League.  Invite the whole gang to a superhero-themed party that all ages can really get into, especially the dads!  And for those kids and adults who really know their comics, host a trivia contest for all ages.  You can even play some of the movies featuring the Justice League characters in the background to entertain everyone. Source

Little Gentleman.  Round up the most old-fashioned props and accessories you can find for the little gentlemen on the guest list at this party.  Adults can enjoy brandy or whiskey drinks at a party like this.  Playlists can include Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Nat King Cole—mostly for the adults’ enjoyment. Source

Spy.  Make this party a mystery party where guests have to solve riddles and clues to get prizes.  Adults can have fun creating the clues and showing the evidence or even participating in their own murder mystery activity. Source

Birthday Party Themes for Adults and Kids

Circus.  This theme is for all ages.  Adults can get into this party theme when they participate in the carnival games as well.  Give away two different sets of prizes—one for the kids and one for the adults.

Monsters.  Whether you choose to use famous monsters (i.e. Monsters Inc.’s Mike and Sully) or completely made up monsters is up to you.  Either way, when done right, this theme is adorable—and it gives you a lot of options when it comes to creating a monster-ific desserts table. Source

Movie Theater Party.  Grab your favorite animated movies, pop some popcorn and throw up a big white screen and projector for a movie theater party.  Adults, make it fun for you by choosing a favorite movie from your childhood—Swiss Family Robinson, The Parent Trap, Doctor Dolittle, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Freaky Friday, The Muppet Movie to name a few. Source

Game Board Olympics.  The Olympics are right around the corner.  Kids and adults pair off and compete in short, fun games around the house and yard for awards and prizes.  Rotate teams and pairs so that each kid is paired with a different adult.

Around the Campfire.  Camping is a really fun concept for children.  For many adults, however, camping with children is all work and no play.  Meet somewhere in the middle with a backyard campout.  S’mores are still a big hit right now, so for s’mores tips and tricks, check out our summer article.

Themes to Personalize

Game Theme.   What’s your child’s favorite game?  Build a party around it!  For example, turn your party venue into Candyland.  It’s a longstanding favorite, so adults will love it, too, especially if you serve one of these themed drinks.

Color Theme.  What’s your child’s favorite color?  Build a party theme around that color with fabulous décor, foods and accessories.  Again, theme your adult beverages with a color-inspired cocktail.

Art Theme.  Is your child into drawing, painting or building things?  Pick a type of art and use that as your party theme.  Adults can join in on the fun as well by painting their best rendition of a famous work of art.  Remember, painting is usually more fun when you’re having a drink or two. Source

Zoo Theme.  Most children have a favorite animal or animals.  Pick out the animals that your child really likes and incorporate them into a zoo theme.  Adults can be the zookeepers and participate in games and activities, too. Source

Sports Theme.  Boys and girls love sports and activities.  Which one is your child’s favorite to watch or play?  Turn it into a party.  Bonus, you already have an activity!  This can also include parties at ice rinks to play hockey or skate—adults, participating in this can be really fun for you as well. Source

How to Make it Fun for Adults, Too

Any of these birthday themes can also be fun for adults when you incorporate some activities or entertainment for them as well.  Here are a few tips on how to make a kid’s birthday also a blast for the older in age but young at heart:

  • Ask them to dress the theme.  Not everyone will participate, but make sure they know the theme and are aware that you, personally, will be dressing the part.  It’s fun to see the costumes adults can put together.
  • Have adult drinks available.  Bars are one of the easiest ways to incorporate themes—just rename the drinks to something clever and theme-related and serve them from a well-decorated table.
  • Make time for adult games.  If the kids are playing a game, either have the adults pair off with the children or have a second round of the same game or activity just for the adults, such as an adults-only Quidditch game for the Harry Potter theme.
  • Invite them!  Even though the party is more for the children, put your adult friends and family on the invitation so that they know this party will aim to entertain them as well.
  • Create playlists that also appeal to the adult crowd.  Yes, Disney songs are great, but an entire night of them?  Maybe not!