Toasting to the Holidays - Cocktail Party

December is such a tricky time for me, I would even say that I have a little bit of a "love-hate" relationship with it, I am definitely extremely emotional during it... and for so many reasons!
It is such a happy, beautiful, joyous, cozy time, everyone loves it! But for me, it is also the time when I  miss my homeland and my family the most... we all go back to our childhood during the holidays, to our roots, to our inner kid, to its happy memories, favorite traditions and customs. For me, all of it got left in Poland, and when I got here, I had to re-learn the Christmas spirit and then fill-in its blank card back again.

Slowly, over the years, the longing for what it "used to be" became less apparent, less painful, less yearning... the "what it used to be" slowly faded and the "what it is" took its place.
The older, I get the more I realize that home is where the heart is, and looking at my kids and their joyous memory making "here and now" is what this season is all about.
Living away from family for more than 15 years, made me realize that "friends are a family you get to choose" is such a true statement. We are fortunate to have some amazing people in our lives, who share these happy moments of the holiday season with us and help us create new memories.

We usually throw a few little evening cocktails and dinners to reconnect with friends, tell them how grateful we are for them and toast to another good year together. This year it will be no different. We planned one get-together with a few closest friends, and one with neighbors and coworkers.

I try to prepare a sit down meal, if the occasion is more intimate with less guests, but if there are quite a few visitors and each of them is coming at a slightly different time (cause yup, holiday time is such a busy time for EVERYONE) I try to have some appetizers and tapas style foods for all to grab. I try to make up the lack of a home-cooked dinner with a good signature drink. In the winter time, I am all about mulled wines and spicy sangrias. It is the season for rich, cinnamon and orange infused flavors, and the temperatures outside call for them to be served warm.

My favorite recipe is pretty simple:

1 750ml bottle red wine (We got Wellsley Farms Malbec exclusive to Bj's)

6 orange, sliced into rounds, plus 6 more for garnish

3 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks, plus 3 more for garnish

12 pieces of star anise

2 tbps pof honey

3 tbps of brandy

1/2 cups of cranberries (dried or fresh) to garnish

2 vanilla sticks


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer not a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes.
Serve warm and garnish with citrus slices, cinnamon sticks. I sometimes like to sprinkle a little bit of powdered cinnamon on top for that extra spice. Cin Cin! 

 And as always, life gets busier than busy and even if we throw a party, we don't always actually have the time to prepare it! So thank goodness, we took advantage of our new BJ's membership, and in a one stop-shop got all the ingredients necessary to throw that party. Apart from all the deli items for the appetizers, we got a selection of wines from their Wellsley Farms brand, it is as much delicious as affordable. It is a win win for cin cin and voilà!

My absolute favorite this time of year is their Wellsley Farms Malbec, its musky, deep flavors if blended with cinnamon and anise taste like the holidays! It is the one I used in this recipe for the first time and I loved it, I will definitely be coming back for more, as it is not only better than some other red wines I tried in it, but also its price tag is much more attractive.

Blog post was written in partnership with BJ's Wholesale Club.

Prepping for the Holidays! - The Jolly Busiest Season here we go!


Post in partnership with BJ's Wholesale Club.

And here we are, the holidays are here, tis the season that we deem to be waiting for all year. The time of the joyous togetherness, the happiness & the celebratory mood all around. The season of parties, get-togethers, socials and cocktail receptions, office parties and after-hour holiday meet-ups. It is the time for long conversations over the most delicious foods, with the most festive drinks in hands, cozied up while it is cold and blowing outside. 

It is also the time of increased pace, longer to-do lists, but shorter days... everything seems busier, more crowded and hectic. It is the time, when we scroll Pinterest for the best recipes,  all the hosting tips, for the jaw-dropping table centerpieces and the most surprising twists on the holiday staples. We then rush to the grocery store, fight for a parking spot, and 50 out  of 55 times, pick a cart with a swiveling wheel. And then a few days later, we have to do it all over again!

Unless, you get strategic about it, plan it out, stock-up on staple items to ensure you don't have to run back in to get every little thing you run out of. 
I seriously love my kids, and I love shopping with them, but maybe like once a month ;) because shopping with them is literally like trying to have five conversations simultaneously while being hit by an pool floatie all while you are trying to juggle a dozen eggs. Nonetheless, grocery runs, especially during the holiday season, are a must. 

That is why this year, with all the pre-christmas brunching, cocktail hosting I joined oBJ Wholesale Club to wisely address all our hosting needs. To cut down on multiple grocery runs and to cut down the grocery bill! Seriously, it is a no brainer, if I can spend less time shopping and save money while at it, why would I not!? We have just recently discovered this brilliant plan and signed up our BJ’s membership. It quickly became a one-stop-shop for us, from snacks, deli items and produce
we need daily, to diapers and personal care. And for the holidays, it has been super convenient for party planning and holiday hosting.

We are planning a little cocktail reception for all of our friends right before the holiday break, so we recently took a trip down to get prepped, and grabbed some diapers and paper towels on the way out, so it is a win win!


We love that BJ's has an extensive beer, wine and spirits alcohol section right inside their clubs, which truly makes them a one-stop shop.  We chose a selection of their exclusive Wellesley Farms Wines, which are is a house brand of BJ's, affordable yet of very good quality, I tested and approved.


We want to serve some warming cocktails, so mulled wine and winter sangrias will be making an appearance for sure, we also got some Prosecco sparking wine, which is perfect for the upcoming New Year's celebrations thus makes a perfect winter party drink by itself or as a cocktail.

We found the cutest decor to help spruce up the house for the holidays and set the holiday mood for the party. Additionally, we got all the finger foods and tapas ingredients we will be serving, so no other stops for necessary. And by buying items in bulk, we make sure we don't run out, additionally saving time and money on top of that! But as always, please drink responsibly.