BY GREG HUBBS Tis the season -- family, co-workers, distant relatives, and online “friends” want you to attend a slew of holiday parties. Yes, just attempting to fight traffic around the mall to get gifts for people you actually like isn’t enough. You’re also going to be expected to show up with a smile, a hostess gift, a bottle of "cheer," and “something to nibble on” to more events than your iCal can keep up with. You clearly aren’t going to have the time or energy to cook up something too labor intensive. Plus, who wants to use the good cheese on someone you only remember as “that girl from last year?" So what do you make? For the 21 and over crowd, you make Jell-O shots. I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing. Then, another moment to recall how that night ended the last time you had one. But now that you’ve settled down, here’s the explanation. The practical side is that you can make them in advance, they’re incredibly portable, don’t require you to keep something hot/cold, and you can easily make as few or as many as your gathering requires without a lot of effort. The fun side is they’re unexpected, they have a certain whimsy that will encourage people to relax, and you can dress them up a little so that they appear more sophisticated than what your average sorority girl might imagine. The actual making of the Jello-O shot isn’t anything too radical. It's booze, water, and gelatin. RECIPE Just dissolve the contents of your chosen flavor gelatin with equal parts boiling water and booze. For a regular 3-ounce gelatin pack, use 6 ounces of boiling water and 6 ounces of your chosen alcohol. Pour those into your festive containers and put them in the fridge to set up. Ideally, leave them overnight. Also, do be careful about being too heavy handed in your alcohol pour. (If you add too much, it won't set up.) It’s what you do from there that makes it original. For example, use tequila as your alcohol and lime gelatin. Then, just before serving give each one a small pinch of salt for a margarita that is neither frozen or on the rocks. Feeling Kentucky Proud? Use bourbon and cherry gelatin and garnish each with a little shaving of dark chocolate (or a sprig of mint for an ode to Derby). You can also get creative by adding herbs like a basil leaf or spring of rosemary for an infusion while your vodka and strawberry gelatin is coming together. Just pull the herb out before you pour your concoction into the individual cups. And that’s the final component. Presentation. You can be sure nothing at the party is going to look more festive than your tray of multicolored cups of deliciousness. Just put them in plain white cups on a plain white tray and let them speak for themselves. Sure, someone may get snooty about what seems such a lowbrow thing to bring. But, soon they'll forget. Plus, that will just leave a few more on the tray to help you get through the evening. Be sure to enjoy responsibly this holiday season and remember to leave a few out for Santa.
PUTTING THE FUN IN DYSFUNCTIONAL The Holiday Family Drinking Game "You can't spell Families without Lies!" --Four Christmases Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hannukah, or Twelfth Night, or Kwanzaa, the odds are that you will be spending some designated part of the season with Family. The odds are even better that you'll be trapped there for at least an overnight or two, making it relatively easy to imbibe safely and responsibly at "home." It's all part of the 12 days of Acemas, or the 12 days of Christmace, depending on your religious preference. Take a sip every time... -you are unfavorably compared to an absent relative (sibling, cousin, doesn't matter) who has made vastly superior life choices to yours. -anybody begins or ends a sentence with, "What?! I'm just being honest!" - your boyfriend, girlfriend, life partner, or spouse is backhandedly insulted ("he still works there? Well, there's something to be said for having any job at all in THIS economy!") Take a drink every time... -an elderly relative makes a wildly inappropriate, politically incorrect/ racist/ sexist/ or homophobic comment and is dismissed with an "oh that's just Grandpa; you know in his day...." - a sentence ends with a dramatically, indignant exclamation of "on Christmas?!" or "at Christmas?!" ("Taking the Lord's name in vain... on Christmas?!" "Burying your nose in that iPhone... at Christmas?") -your parenting choices are vaguely disparaged, if you've brought along children. (Sample: "In my day, we just let 'em cry it out.") -your lack of children is disparaged, whether you are childless by choice, or reproductively challenged. Finish your drink any time.... -anyone prepares to open a present, smiles wanly, and then says, "I don't need a thing." Alternate with a cup of coffee every time... -your mother criticizes your hair. -your mother criticizes your job. - an In-Law or step-relative makes a drunken pass at you. Call and alert your designated driver, or taxi to take you to a hotel when: - an In-Law or step-relative makes a sober pass at you. - spirited political discourse about the second amendment devolves into an actual display of firearms.