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How to Host a Hot Winter Party

12/08/2014 03:38AM, Published by Family Features, Categories: Family Features Food, Family Features



If cooler temps have you feeling blue, there's no better time for a party with family and friends to lift your spirits.

Though you may not want to treat your guests to an al fresco brunch, winter weather shouldn't hold you back from entertaining in style. From playful party games to creative recipes that feature the fresh flavors of watermelon, a little mid-winter gathering is just what you need to beat boredom and get you primed for sunnier months ahead.

To make your winter party a hot success, follow these tips for setting the theme and creating the perfect menu:

  • Don't shy away from foods typically associated with warmer weather. Watermelon, for example, is actually available year-round and makes a surprisingly healthful and delicious addition to a winter party spread, whether in a fruity drink, side dish or dessert. The recipe below combines decadent chocolate fondue with the light, sweet pop of juicy watermelon. Remember to save the rind to use as a pretty carved centerpiece.

  • Pick a theme that pays homage to the season. Penguins, snowmen, icicles - the possibilities are endless, so set your imagination free. Remember that lighting sets the mood, so look for options that complement your theme, whether soft and subtle candles or bright and colorful paper lanterns.

  • Take advantage of the cooler weather as an excuse to savor an array of rich, decadent comfort foods. Serve warm, crusty breads with dips or a thick, creamy soup or chili. Or delight guests with an indulgent chocolate fondue with watermelon dippers for a little extra fun.

  • Serve a hot cocoa or spiced cider bar and let guests add their own toppings and spices, ranging from whipped cream and maraschino cherries to cinnamon sticks and caramel syrup (adult libations optional).

  • Help guests forget the blustery outdoors with action-packed party games that get the blood flowing and rev your internal temps. Charades is a classic example that lets a large group participate. Use wine bottles and ribbon-wrapped miniature looms for a grown-up ring toss. Or simply prepare a spirited play list with music so lively your guests can't help but get up and dance.

For more entertaining recipes and party ideas, www.watermelon.org.

Watermelon and Spicy Mayan Dark Chocolate Fondue

Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 /2 cup fat-free half and half, plus extra reserve
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 /2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 /2 teaspoon coriander
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa powder)

Preparation

  1. Wrap watermelon cubes in paper towels to soak up excess fluid. Set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan, bring half and half and spices to almost simmer. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Let chocolate melt, then continue to stir until thoroughly blended and creamy. Adjust flavors to personal taste.
  3. Transfer fondue to fondue pot and heat according to directions. (If fondue becomes too thick, stir in extra reserve half and half, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.)
  4. Place watermelon cubes on platter with fondue forks or skewers.

Sponsored by National Watermelon Promotion Board



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