Why Celebrate Small?
If 2020 was a year to celebrate small by force, consider making 2021 a year to celebrate small by choice. While large parties, packed stadiums, and concert throngs hold a certain appeal, you may find yourself a little spooked by the prospect of returning to such large events any time soon.
In 2020 we stumbled into the porch picnic, the driveway happy hour, the backyard brunch; now let’s embrace those. When you celebrate small, you can have real conversations with a few people. When you celebrate small, you are thoughtful about the mix of people you include – to ensure those conversations are lively. When you celebrate small, you can get creative with the food – and mix and match smaller quantities of recipes you might not normally try.
As we begin the “re-entry” from what we hope to be the worst of the pandemic, you may be asked what you have missed the most. For some, it’s concerts, the bustling crowds at a mall, or the crowds at a stadium. For me it’s hospitality. My kitchen is filled with platters and bowls, drink dispensers and table cloths. My heart is filled with the desire to welcome and sustain others. And my mind is filled with the understanding of just how long it will be before we can host another large Mardi Gras birthday party or a festive Galentine’s Day event.
Since hosting and hospitality changed entirely in 2020, it’s time to look ahead at ways to embrace and celebrate the small. (Bonus for our #AutismFamily: MUCH less risk of autism meltdowns in this world of small).
Celebrate Small: Celebration Ideas
- Host small: instead of a huge cocktail party or barbecue, host smaller, intimate versions of these events
- Host outdoors: when possible, continue to entertain in outdoor spaces – remember your guests may also be squeamish about enclosed spaces after a year of distance
- Host on Zoom: while the novelty of a Zoom Happy Hour has worn thin, don’t discount the power of Zoom for connecting with far-flung family and friends. You can check out this Zoom scavenger hunt for a fun activity for groups of almost any size.
- Host a food swap: cook or bake for others while keeping your distance. While I may have previously porch-dropped extra zucchini or other less-welcome gifts, I have enjoyed the quarantine culture of more pleasant porch drops – cakes, pies, cookies, tarts – all baked with love (and a healthy dose of quarantine stir-craziness!). We even did a distanced cookie exchange – which I hope we will repeat for years to come. Instead of leaving a typical in-person, cookie exchange laden with dozens of cookies, destined to go stale, we spread out our baking over several weeks. Each week meant a new treat to be enjoyed, without a sugar overload.
Celebrate Small: Food Ideas
- Single-serve savory: Try serving stuffing or other side dishes in ramekins, and consider single-serve entrees, like fish or chicken cooked en papillote or in a pouch. Serve soups in mugs, and consider stand-up salads in wide-mouth mason jars
- Small sips: No celebration is complete without a toast – mini champagne splits certainly fit the bill, as do the growing number of options of canned wines on the market. There are plenty of festive non-alcoholic options as well, including slender cans of Izze sparkling juice, and the refreshing slim bottles of mixers from Fever Tree.
- Small-scale baking: While at the beginning of the pandemic I was making as much bread as my flour supplies allowed, I have scaled back. The Tartine recipe works beautifully cut in half, resulting in enough dough for a substantial loaf, or even for two pizza crusts and a slender loaf. Try these mini-pavlovas, or my new favorite: muffin-tin pies. After much experimentation, I have settled on a jumbo muffin tin as the ideal size for mini-pies and tarts, including this lilikoi tart recipe.
The Kona area of the Big Island of Hawaii is our home away from home. And while we haven’t been able to host as much as we typically do, sharing our home away from home is a way to maintain a sense of hospitality – from afar. With strict testing protocols in place, travel to Hawaii has been more possible than to many other places. But this tart allows you a taste of the islands to tide you over until you book your next trip.
Lilikoi Tarts (Passionfruit Tarts)
- jumbo muffin tin or other small tins
- 1 stick of butter unsalted
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup lilikoi juice from about 4-6 passionfruit
- 1 sleeve graham crackers crushed finely
- 2 T sugar
- 4 T butter unsalted, melted
- In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar and butter, using a hand mixer.
- Add eggs one at time, blending after each addition.
- Add lilikoi juice and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until curd begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
- Combine crust ingredients and press into tins. Divide curd equally into the crusts (you should get about 6 jumbo muffin-sized tarts).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.