Bite this Book: Gatherings

Folks, I have one more cookbook giveaway for you to wrap up my Bite this Book series in 2014. It couldn’t come at a better time, as we are preparing for the holiday season and some of you might be quaking at the thought of hosting.

Canadian food writers and my friends Jan Scott & Julie Van Rosendaal have joined forces to bring us guide to making casual entertaining simple and accessible. Gatherings: Bringing People Together With Food is a beautiful cookbook full of helpful tips for real get-together from cocktail parties to potlucks, equipping you to go fourth and entertain with confidence.

I can’t wait to put Gatherings to good use over the holiday season. I’ll be hosting a handful of events and will be counting on this beautiful book to help me survive and thrive. Bookmarked already are the chapters: Weekend Brunch, Snow Day, Holiday Open House and Cocktail Party.

Read on for an exclusive interview with both Julie and Jan, plus a chance to win a copy of Gatherings: Bringing People Together With Food!

Gatherings Cookbook Cover


Q & A with Jan Scott and Julie Van Rosendaal

When did you first notice you had a knack for bringing people together over food?

Jan ~ I had forgotten about it, but recently some University friends reminded me about a Thanksgiving dinner I organized while we were all living together outside of the dorms. I made the main components of the meal (turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy) and asked everyone else to contribute a side, dessert, or beverage. It was a terrible tasting feast, but when we all think back to those school years we remember it so clearly, and I think that’s when I discovered that one of my biggest joys in life is gathering people around my table, filling their bellies with food and their minds with memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Julie ~ My mom likes to tell the story of when I was 3 and asked her when I could cook by myself… she said when you can read a recipe by yourself, you can cook by yourself. Cooking has always been my thing.. ever since I had to push a chair up to the counter to reach it. I loved how it made people happy, how people gathered together around it, how it was a source of comfort and nostalgia. It’s such a big part of our every day culture.

"Gatherings" Holiday Table

Who is ‘Gatherings’ written for and what will this book help them accomplish?

Jan ~ I think the book is written for everyone who loves to eat with others. It’s intended to be a guide for the inexperienced host, and possibly a reminder to those who gather with others regularly that less is more, and everything doesn’t have to be precious and perfect for the meal or event to be a success. It saddens me to think that people are intimidated by the thought of feeding a group, and my hope is that the book will take some of the pressure off and provide those folks with ideas for making it fun and doable.

Julie ~ Gatherings is written for everyone – except I suppose those who prefer to dine solo. Most of us tend to like eating with other people though – it’s such a social thing, whether it’s a regular dinner on a Tuesday night or a big celebration. Food is a part of so many life events, big and small, and it’s a shame so many of us are intimidated by the thought of feeding others. We want to take the pressure off, and make people comfortable with the idea of gathering around their own tables.

"Gatherings" - Cheesy Christmas Tree

What sort of gatherings are planned in your home this holiday season?

Jan ~ We are keeping our gatherings small and low-key this holiday season. I’m nearly eight months pregnant and have decided that the people I want to gather with the most are the ones who live in my own home. So, aside from the big Christmas dinner (for 20 people) that I cook every year, I’m planning nothing but a fondue feast with my kids and their friends, a board game night with lots of finger foods, and a few at-home date nights with my favourite person.

Julie ~ We’re just finishing a kitchen reno, so we won’t have quite as many gatherings at our house as usual, but we will have our annual Polyester & Cheese party – everyone brings something cheesy, and wearing polyester is optional, but fun. It’s sort of a potluck-slash-cocktail party, and everyone loves it. Who doesn’t adore cheese? And then of course we have the requisite turkey dinners – one at my mom’s, one at our house, and one at my husband’s cousin’s place. Never too many turkey dinners, friends and relatives this holiday season!


Ta-Da! I have a copy of Gatherings to give away to one lucky North American reader. ** This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Sharon Holbrook, our winner! Sharon look for an email coming your way soon.**

To enter: tell me in the comments below about an upcoming gathering you’ll be hosting (or attending) this holiday season!

Remember: If you are reading this post via email, please note that you must enter on the blog post, NOT by replying to the email.

Giveaway ends Sunday, December 21 at 7AM EST. Good luck to all.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Jenn Krivanek says

    contributing to meals my mom hosts and she does an amazing job, would love to have the book to give as a gift!

  2. We are going to my daughter’s Saturday night for her first Christmas party, and then on Christmas Eve we will host a family get together with Christmas Eve presents (pajamas) and potato soup, our 2 favorite traditions to see who gets the craziest pajamas.

  3. Our friends have a Silly Santa gift exchange for 50 people. Gifts under $10, the sillier the better. It’s a pot-luck finger food do. A slight twist on the “open, keep or steal event” is that a steal can only happen twice/present due to numbers AND to steal one has to pay $1. This year between the dollar charge, final auction of the most popular gifts and donations, our friends raised over $900 for a local Child Crisis Centre

  4. heidi defaut says

    I will be hosting a get-together in the break between xmas and new years.lots of finger foods and sweets.

  5. I just finished hosting my nieces baptism on Sunday. We have several Chirstmas gatherings left, but none at our home. I would love to read this one.

  6. We have the house so we host the family Christmas gathering. I SO could use this book- it sounds perfect.

  7. I am having some neighbors over Saturday for a Christmas gathering. Wine & appetizers & cheese plates & Christmas gifts!

  8. I will be hosting Christmas Eve this year for family. We have the family recipe ham, sides and lots of desserts that I make.

  9. New Year is our next gatherings. The kids have all their friends over, build your own pizza and a bonfire in the snow. SO fun! Beautiful book! Merry Christmas Aimee, thanks for sharing. Happy Gatherings!

  10. We will be doing a small family gathering at our house on Christmas eve. Looking forward to the quiet moments spent in each others’ presence….

  11. I am a volunteer chef for a community kitchen and we will be hosting 100+ people for Christmas dinner. we serve dinner twice a week, but the holiday meals are always special!!

  12. We had a great gathering for 16 this past weekend, and are looking forward to Christmas with 7 and New Year’s with 9!

  13. The Christmas gathering we are hosting this year will actually feature take-out sushi. With me being mid-pregnancy my husband took over the planning. Not as traditional, but what’s important is the gathering of friends and family.

  14. Tonnie Rogers says

    We’re having family over for Christmas dinner and gift opening. This will be followed in the next week by a grandson’s birthday celebration, followed by New Years. Whew! We could use some help!

  15. Susan Reilly says

    We will gather in the interior of Alaska this weekend with 4 generations of family to celebrate winter solstice. There will be bonfires and fireworks and three days of delicious food and drink. This is a family that LOVES to gather at table. I am fortunate enough to be able to share my love of cooking with my own adult children and their cousins and spouses and have already walked my 1-year-old granddaughter through her first apple pie, made from apples we picked in our back garden

  16. We’ll have a post-holiday open house/goodbye party, as we’ll be moving.

  17. I “met” Julie at Christmas in November! Thoroughly enjoyed her session. (extra points?) I will be heading home to both the parents’ homes and will be bringing the food with me. Paul wants to make a stuff pork loin (Michael and Anna Olson) and I will do some appy foods, cheese, meat, cracker platters.

  18. As Mom & Dad are traveling to see their newest grandchild this holiday season, it has fallen to me to host the annual extended family gathering this year. Thankfully, it is only about 35 people this year and it is of a “pot-luck” format with disposable plates & utensils. 🙂

  19. We’re spending Christmas Eve with my brother and sister-in-law, and I am bringing dessert for what is always a relaxed and enjoyable evening. Then Christmas Day turkey dinner will be at my mom’s – she’s 81 but still determined to host dinner as long as she can. The rest of the holiday, my family will be lingering in front of the tree watching holiday movies or playing board games, nibbling on cookies – that’s my favourite part!

  20. We are going to my in-laws for Christmas…but my sister-in-law and I will be doing most of the cooking…this book looks awesome and is written by fellow Canadians! (even though I live in the US now)

  21. We look forward to welcoming some family from far away on Christmas day and enjoying a mix of traditional favorites and some new things. One of my favorite childhood memories is a special cookie from Norway – Krumkakke. It wouldn’t be the holidays without it.

  22. I will be hosting a knit night after Christmas and before New Year’s. So far the only menu items are hot apple cider and some cookies – we don’t want anything that will make our hands too messy as we knit. This book sounds great, though, especially for those of us just beginning to host friends on a regular basis. It can be very intimidating trying to figure out how to accommodate different tastes, food preferences, etc. I’ve set a goal of having friends over at least once a month so that I start learning how to do it well. Thanks, Aimee!

  23. We will be heading to my parents’ house after Christmas. Both of my siblings and their families will be there as well. We haven’t all been in the same place for over a year because of distance, so I’m really excited to see them all!

  24. I am heading to an upcoming brunch holiday party and am in charge of bringing one dish!

  25. 20 family members are arriving on the 26th, and 15 are staying at my house! I can’t wait but I have a LOT of cooking to do….

  26. Will be having about 30 friends & family members for dinner the Monday before Christmas and I plan on prepping over the weekend to get most of it done.

  27. This coming Sunday my husband and I will be hosting our annual family brunch/ gift opening. In addition to 3 grown children and their spouses and 6 grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 14, we have also invited my ex-mother-in- law and my ex-husband’s widow. Should be interesting…..

  28. I am hosting Christmas Eve. Tourtière will be the star if the meal.

  29. Christmas Day dinner for friends! I’m looking forward to it!

  30. Our friends in California but from Hawaii fly a flag to let neighbors and friends know that after 5:00 p.m. drop in guests are welcome with poo poos (hors d’oeuvres) and cocktails.

    A lovely tradition that warms friends and adds to the Christmas holiday season.

  31. We are hosting Christmas brunch this year.

  32. Hosting Christmas Eve with my grown children and then Christmas Day with my husband’s parents and friends.

  33. We are having family over on Christmas Eve for homemade spaghetti and meatballs. But I love having people over and try to have at least one day a week set aside to share a meal with family or friends. I would love to win a copy of this book!

  34. We host a traditional Christmas Eve dinner and then the Christmas brunch and dinner later that day. My son was born on Christmas morning and is turning 10. We always turn Christmas evening into an extra special birthday party since family is here to celebrate. I bake him a cake and my husband decorates it.

  35. We’re not having Christmas dinner until Jan. 5th!
    Our son and family will arrive from Portland, OR, when he gets a week off of work.
    Gifts and loving will keep!

  36. Can I tell about the one where I accidentally invited twice the normal number of people over for cinnamon rolls? And they all came?! 😉 That’s a true story and we had a great time even if it was chaotic in our little house 🙂 As far as future gatherings, we’re almost done with ours, but we will have Christmas dinner with both of our families next week. Love how food brings back memories and does bond people together. This sounds like a great book, and thanks for the reminders that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!

  37. We will be going to my parents home for the holidays.

  38. My husband’s family has the unusual tradition of a big taco feast on Christmas Eve, that’s where we’ll be this year.

  39. I’ll be hosting an anniversary brunch for my parents.

  40. Christmas Eve dinner is always at my house with my brother and his wife and daughter joining us every year. We are growing larger as my niece’s brand new husband and our daughter’s fiance are now joining our family tradition of a candle- lit meal, laughing over family stories and a later, off to a church service all together.

  41. We will be going to my sister-in-laws on Christmas Eve for a seven fishes dinner. A traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. I usually make homemade challah bread to bring.

  42. My granddaughter’s second birthday is on Christmas, so we are doing Christmas on Christmas Eve and we will be celebrating her birthday on Christmas Day. I’ll be doing a bruch as well as dinner.

  43. We are going to our neighbour’s for Xmas eve dinner. Coincidently he is a famous chef and sommelier (best neighbour ever!) It will be an amazing 8 course dinner paired with wine – filled with laughter and good friends. The best way to spend Christmas eve!

  44. My 3 year old twin girls birthday party!!

  45. This year we will be gathering with my daughter and new son in law. We will also have with us our elderly neighbors and their son who don’t have family left and we include them in ours. Our family has included many families each year and from doing this we have shared so many memories.

  46. I’m hosting a New Year’s Eve party.

  47. My husband’s birthday dinner tomorrow night. I wish I had the Gathering book right now!!

  48. My Mom passed away this summer, so I am hosting Christmas dinner. I am trying to fix her faves and the faves she fixed others. Lord help me-I hope everything turns out well!!!

  49. We’ll be hosting a gingerbread house / cookie making and decorating event this weekend!

  50. On Saturday evening my family and I will be attending our friends Christmas open house. I am baking gingerbread kiss cookies for the occasion and am looking forward to an enjoyable Christmas evening!

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