At some point during the holidays, you will likely be called upon to entertain. If not this year, then some year. And even if the idea of planning a Martha Stewart style "cocktail and canapé buffet for 27" fills you with glee, there will be guests you do not like but to whom you must extend an invitation. If you must deal with these people, try to make the evening as pleasurable and stress-free as possible - at least for you. Do not attempt to minimize annoyance by sprinkling a few undesired guests into a series of dinners and open houses otherwise populated by friends: like a few rancid pine nuts they will spoil the whole pesto. Instead, throw one special party for guests you detest and get the whole darn thing over in one swoop. You pick the date and place, here is what you serve:
Tataki chicken (sashimi style) - who doesn't like a perfectly seared piece of tataki tuna? Well, here's a way to give your guests what they want without having to worry about potentially dangerous levels of mercury OR the environmental impact of over-fishing! (After all, you're never going to help that ex catch the eye of the cutie across the room sipping spiced cider if they've got their nose buried in the list of safe and sustainable species!) Substitute thinly sliced chicken breast and limit your concerns to a more manageable exposure to salmonella! (Prettily wrapped Z-pacs make a thoughtful take-away gift.) Save time by using pre-cut chicken tenders.
Anchovy paste faux "dog doo" tartlets - delight the animal lovers among your guests by filling pre-made canape shells with anchovy paste, twirling tube as you go for realistic presentation. Couldn't be easier! May substitute crackers for canape shells, or blini if you are expecting a more discerning crowd.
Jellied fish sauce consommé "shooters" - mix fermented fish sauce with unflavored gelatin and follow package directions. Serve in shot glasses. Jicama or cucumber spikes add a nice garnish. (Also a subtle way to touch on the missing element of tuna in the tataki appetizer. Guests appreciate that kind of attention to detail.)
Chocolate strawberry "cream" cups - melt chocolate chips and drizzle or spread in cupcake liners. Chill until chocolate hardens. Fill with cut up organic strawberries and garnish with jaunty dollop of shaving creme. Add sprig of mint if desired. (Scotch bonnet peppers or grape tomatoes may be used in place of strawberries if organic strawberries are unavailable.)
Powder-dusted brownie bites - this is the go-to dessert for those who have no time to cook. Purchase pre-cooked brownie bites and display on festive/attractive plate. Dust with baby power or baking soda. Garnish plate with crushed-up candy canes.
San Marzano Cake Pop Surprises - creative gastronomy is all the rage! If you aren't ready to try your hand at this trend with a cheesecake "cigar" or octopus-ink "licorice", the following project is one that will have your guests talking for days! Drain liquid from can of whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano brand works well). Fill with stuffing of your choice: salmon mousse, goat cheese, or hummus are ideal. Insert Popsicle or craft stick (available at most confectionery and craft stores - can also use tongue depressors), freeze, and frost with your favorite icing. Serve cold for best effect.
Serve toast points with thin-sliced slivers of garlic. Looks just like butter!
Spike punch with rubbing alcohol for an extra kick!
Legal Disclaimer: obviously, you shouldn't really serve any of these to anyone. No matter how much of a scrooge you are, no matter how much you dislike them. Except for maybe the fish sauce shooters and the toast points with garlic. Those could actually be good, if you like fish sauce or garlic.