Celebrating Christmas 2023 {Moms Merry Little Night Out & Party Recipes}

Things got busy in 2022 and I so missed having a little soiree for the sweetest ladies in my neighborhood. I knew I had to make it happen in 2023 and last Thursday was the perfect kick-off to the season. We had Thanksgiving behind us, but the craziness of December had not yet ramped up to full swing. My favorite ladies dressed up in the jammies and comfy clothes, brought a “Favorite Thing” for a gift exchange and enjoyed dinner, cocktails, friendship and fellowship.

I made some of my favorites for dinner – keep scrolling for the recipes. The menu consisted of:

  • Whipped goat cheese
  • Caramelized bacon
  • Ham & Swissers
  • Twice baked potato casserole
  • Layered arugula salad
  • Fruit & Dip
  • Cupcakes

For drinks, I made a signature cocktail – Holiday Elderflower French 75 – and had hot apple cider.

After eating, we gathered around the fire in the den and did our exchange. Everyone brought a favorite thing in the $20-25 price range. We went in birthday order. Each guest chose a wrapped gift, opened it and then whoever brought it shared a little about why they love it. We didn’t do any stealing. We got so many great shopping ideas and I think everyone went home with something wonderful!

Caramelized Bacon

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top. I find mine cooks best on the bottom rack of my oven.

Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Add the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs.

Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it’s underbaked, the bacon won’t crisp as it cools.

While it’s hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.

Whipped Goat Cheese

1 log of Chèvre (10-11 ounce log)
4 ounces room temp cream cheese
1/3 cup EVOO
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of honey plus more for garnish
Pinch of red pepper + black pepper + kosher salt
2 sprigs of fresh oregano or thyme (1 sprig for mixture, the other for garnish)
1 teaspoon of lemon zest plus more for garnish

In a food processor, combine goat cheese, cream cheese, EVOO, garlic, honey, oregano or thyme, and a pinch of red pepper+salt and black pepper into a food processor. Pulse until creamy and smooth. Spoon into a bowl. Garnish with more lemon zest, red & black pepper, drizzle of honey and oregano. Serve with crackers or bread, prosciutto and olives!

Fruit & Dip

Dip: Spoon 1.5 cups greek yogurt into a bowl. Drizzle generously with honey. Top with 2 T. brown sugar.
Fruit: Use any variety you like.

Layered Arugula Salad

The colors make this a beautiful salad for Christmas!


  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mild, extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, and salt. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the mustard and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the oils in a slow, steady stream. Whisk again just before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed and for up to 4 days.


  • 5 ounces baby arugula (about 5 cups)
  • 2 firm-ripe pears, peeled if desired, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 cup candied pecans
  • ½ cup coarsely crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces)
  1. Spread 1/3 of the arugula in a medium glass-serving bowl (preferably with straight sides, such as a trifle bowl).
  2. Arrange 1/3 of the pears over the arugula. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the pomegranate arils, nuts and cheese.
  3. Repeat the layers twice more.
  4. Just before serving, drizzle a few spoonsful of vinaigrette over the salad, just enough to gloss the arugula, and pass the rest at the table.

Make Ahead Ham and Swiss Sandwiches

Two packages Hawaiian Rolls (12 count each), sliced
1 lb. honey ham, coarsely chopped
8 oz. swiss cheese, shredded
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 T. worchestershire sauce
1 cup butter, softened
2 T.  poppy seeds
4 T. prepared mustard

– On bottom halves of rolls, evenly top with ham and cheese.
– Soften butter and mix well with onion, worchestershire sauce, poppy seeds and mustard.  Spread mixture on top halves of split rolls.
– Place sandwiches on baking pan and cover tightly with foil.  Refrigerate. These are great to make a day in advance!
– Before serving, preheat oven to 250.  Bake sandwiches until heated through – you have a lot of liberty here – I allow at least 30 minutes but have left them in the oven for an hour before a party!

Note: I sometimes stretch the recipe to go on 3 dozen Hawaiian rolls and it is fine, depending on how many people you need to feed.  

Marme’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole

  1. Cut baked and slightly cooled potatoes in half length wise.  Scoop out pulp and coarsely mash.
  2. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese and next 8 ingredients.
  3. Spoon into lightly greased 13×9″ baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until thoroughly heated.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese, bacon, green onions and chives and return to oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

8 medium sized baking potatoes (about 5 lbs), baked until soft
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
16 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 garlic cloves, minced
1T. fresh chives, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

Note:  Mother puts everything in step 2 in her kitchenaid mixer and uses that to get it all thoroughly combined.  

Holiday Elderflower French 75

Find the recipe here:

Many thanks to Mother who helped me prepare as much as possible the week before and freeze it.

It was such a wonderful evening and set the tone for a joyful holiday month!

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7 thoughts on “Celebrating Christmas 2023 {Moms Merry Little Night Out & Party Recipes}

  1. That looks like a perfect winters night with dear friends for sure!

    I think we’d all love to know some of the favorite things that were brought…

  2. Now that is my kind of winters night get together!

    I’m certain we’d love to know what favorites were brought…Maybe a post? Or even comment below.
    Always fun to learn of new good things.

    Glad you are enjoy it season in good health!

  3. We had our book club favorite things party last night and there is something wonderful about being with your besties with yummy food and laughs all while wearing comfy pjs!

  4. Will you blog the ‘favorite gifts’ that were brought to the party if is not too personal? I’m always looking g for a good gift idea and maybe your readers are too

  5. hi amanda! thanks for sharing your recipes! YUM! i def will be making these for my upcoming christmas! :) thanks for the inspo! also would you be able to make a post about the favorite things items that people brought in? ive recently heard of these parties and my family friends have been wanting to do one. i have been needing ideas and gift giving in general! thank you! :)

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