If your Christmas plans include entertaining a mixed crowd of all ages, consider building the party around the Dr. Seuss perennial classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Since its 1966 debut, the animated version has been a seasonal favorite with its humorous update of the surly Dickensian "Bah, humbug." Kids appreciate the fun and the green food, but adults also enjoy the playful theme.
While the Whos in Whoville are shown reveling in their Christmas preparations and feasting, there aren't many foods mentioned by name -- with the exception of the "roast beast" entree. While a hearty roast is a fine sit-down meal, it isn't especially well suited for the party environment. Instead, set out a tray of cold, thinly sliced beef, and surround it with a variety of rolls and breads for sandwich making. Offer a range of condiments and garnishes, especially pickles. Being both green and sour, they're impeccably Grinch-y. For extra Grinchiness, puree parsley and green onions and stir them into your mayonnaise.
Who pudding is also mentioned by Dr. Seuss, who obligingly neglected to go into any detail about what it included. This gives you complete liberty to make any pudding you choose. Fill a traditional boiled pudding with a variety of dried fruits, for example, and serve it with custard sauce. For an easier alternative, make a bread pudding studded with candied citrus, raisins, chopped figs, dried cranberries and blueberries, or anything else colorful. Layer a clear bowl with trifle to make a festive and attractive presentation. Alternatively, give each kid a bowl of vanilla pudding and a table full of colorful additions from which to choose.
Green is the color of Grinchiness, so when it comes to finger foods and party treats, green is your touchstone. Don't forget to check your cookbooks for St. Patrick's Day ideas, which share the verdant theme. Use green food coloring to tint a batch of rice cereal marshmallow squares, and press them into a specialty Grinch cake pan as a mold. Spinach dip and guacamole already come in an appropriate color and are good choices. For the grownups, make canapes with pesto or green-olive tapenade. For the kids, offer green ketchup and green-tinted plum or sweet and sour sauce for their selection of finger foods.
One of the great party staples is a large bowl of punch, which saves the host and hostess a great deal of fetching and pouring. To coincide with your Grinch theme, make a large green variation on the concept of an ice cream float. Fill your punch bowl with your favorite lemon-lime soda, and then scoop in a quart or two of lime sherbet depending on the size of your bowl. You'll need lots of room in your bowl for the beverage to foam up without overflowing. It makes a green punch with an impressive layer of kid-friendly green foam at the top.