How to host a cookies + punch party | Sevengrams

The problem with hobbies, it that they often end up taking the back seat when life gets busy. Case in point - this space and my commitment to the blog. I've totally dropped the ball over here lately, and can't quite pin it on one specific reason why.

It took the holiday season to kick me back into gear. I've been busy decorating the apartment, baking all the cookies, and planning some of the best custom christmas gifts ever. This time of year I also love hosting. There's something really special about setting aside a night to just spend some quality time with friends. We realized last year that December weekends fill up quickly, so suggested a weeknight holiday soirée with friends.

In an attempt to establish a new holiday tradition, we hosted our second annual cookies and punch party this past Tuesday -- an excuse to menu plan, decorate the house, and share in a little holiday indulgence. Weeknight hosting isn't as tough as you may think, you just need to plan ahead. I've done my best to break it down below. Wishing you all a festive and happy holiday season!

plan ahead //

1-2 weeks before: bake 2-3 batches of cookies, and store them in the freezer.
weekend before: grocery shop as required (keep in mind any dietary restrictions in the group)
night before: ice your cookies, cut veggies, prep the syrups for the punch and make ice ring
morning of: set the table

the table //

cover the table with kraft paper, so people can jot down the name of their cookies
cluster large candles in the centre
line the table with small pieces of christmas tree off-cuts
lay out a few empty plates, so friends have somewhere to drop off their cookies

the menu //

earl grey bourbon punch (recipe below)
veggie platter with za'atar hummus (store-bought hummus made fancy with olive oil and za'atar)
cheese plate with grapes, nuts and gf crackers
treats by others: rum balls, egg nog cupcakes, maple butter oatmeal cookies, holiday spice oatmeal cookies and italian lemon drop cookies

How to host a cookies + punch party | Sevengrams

How to host a cookies + punch party | Sevengrams

How to host a cookies + punch party | Sevengrams

EARL GREY BOURBON PUNCH // serves a large crowd and fills a punch bowl

No cookies and punch party is complete without the punch! I'm no mixologist, so I turned to the trusty folks at Bon Appétit (Nov 2016 issue), for some help. I doubled the original recipe to ensure I filled my punch bowl, and had enough to feed the crowd. Half the recipe below for original quantities.


earl grey tea
honey-herb syrup
2 cups lemon juice
3 cups bourbon (~750ml bottle)
1 cup brandy
2 tsp bitters

earl grey tea //
1/2 cup loose leaf earl grey tea (or 8 tea bags)
2 1/2 cups boiling water

honey-herb syrup //
1 cup honey
8 thyme sprigs
4 rosemary sprigs
1 cup water

ice ring and rosemary springs, for serving

ice ring //
1 lemon, thinly sliced

What to do:

The night before, prepare the tea and syrup. Steep the tea in boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain into a glass jar and store in the fridge overnight.

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the honey, thyme, rosemary and water. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to combine. Let cool, then pluck out the herbs. Store in a glass jar in the fridge overnight.

To make the ice ring, fill a bundt pan half way with water. Arrange the lemon slices in the water, trying to overlap them a bit. Transfer to freezer until ready to serve.

Day of, just before serving, stir together all the punch ingredients in a large bowl. Run the bundt pan under a bit of hot water to release the ice ring. Gently place the ice ring in the punch bowl and garnish with a few sprigs of rosemary. Punch will separate as it sits, so be sure to give it a good stir before serving.