The vegan host must jump through hurdles the non-vegan host doesn't even come near. Holiday hosting is stressful as is, and with added dietary restrictions it's even more so. However, if you love the holidays and love hosting gatherings for friends and fam, being vegan shouldn't be a barrier to planning an awesome and tasty holiday dinner party. Here are some pointers to steer you in the right direction:
Think outside the box: If you’re up for hosting a holiday party, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-on dinner. If the idea of cooking a meal for 10 friends even makes you feel exhausted and broke, then do something simpler. A holiday cocktail party, appetizers and wine buffet, or a cookie swap are all fun options. Holiday soirees are all about being together, bottom line.
Let guests know what's up: If you do decide to host a dinner party, be clear about whether or not your guests should expect a meat-free occasion or not. You totally shouldn't have to explain your reasons for living a vegan lifestyle, and obviously holiday dinner gatherings are no time for political debates, but since the holidays are so often heavy on meaty-traditions, its a good idea to be straight up – there'll be no turkey and stuffing at this Christmas party.
Find recipes that are "naturally" vegan: The stigma around Tofurkey is as sour as the bottle of white wine that's been open in your fridge door for weeks. If your guests are anything less than your loving, supportive pals, you probably shouldn't serve them either at your Chrisitmas dinner. Fortunately, many traditional holiday dishes don't need to include butter or dairy to taste good.
Most veggie dishes – maple roasted brussel sprouts, roasted fingerling potatoes, pureed squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce, can be made with oil or vegan substitutes for butter / dairy without tasting like they were even touched by tofu. When it comes to cooking, think simple – use fresh ingredients and herbs, new spices and quality olive oil – a failproof way to make good food, whether you're cooking with dairy or not.
Think potluck: If you don't mind meat at your table, invite your guests to bring dishes that mean Christmas to them. Part of what "makes" the holidays for some is Auntie’s sausage balls or Grandma’s chicken casserole. As a host, this is your choice. You shouldn’t have to prepare / serve meat if it violates your personal beliefs, but if you're comfortable with friends bringing meat dishes, it could be served as your gift to those who enjoy eating it.
Have fun veganizing old favourites: At best, hosting the holidays is a fun project (at worst, a stressful calamity). Plan well ahead of time to make sure your vegan holiday party is actually fun to exectute. And by all means, if you're into it, get creative with soy nog, tofutti, etc. and unleash your inner vegan Martha. (Here's a list of veganized holiday favourites to get your wheels spinning).
Let the holidays be a time to be grateful for the ability to have the choice, gumption, and willpower to be vegan. Let there be greens.