Charlotte is in the midst of an unusual winter storm. We’re going on day 2 of being stranded in the house by an impassable ice sheet covering our drive. Last night, before everything froze solid, we pulled out the champagne flutes, tossed in that fluffy white stuff called snow, and topped it off with some post-New Year bubbly. If anything can make being stuck at home better, it’s a champagne slushy!
I spotted this simple but pretty new year’s eve table over on pinterest. (Do you pin? It is revolutionizing the way I keep track of images and links.) I love the all white color scheme. It’s a great way to capitalize on the idea of starting fresh with a new year. Plus, it’s a snap to pull together.
I love the mismatched white chairs around the table. Recreate the look by spray painting thrifted wood chairs all white. Or pick up these great ikea stools in white, they are a steal!
I also love the barely-there white lace table cloth. It adds just a bit of texture and dimension. Check out a local thrift shop for white lace curtains and layer them over a table for the same look.
The silver New Year’s Eve banner would also be an easy DIY project. Pre-cut letters covered in some spray adhesive, dusted with silver glitter and strung on some pretty string. Working with glitter can get a little messy, but I’d be willing to risk some mess in this case.
I’d keep the white theme going with the menu as well. Less risk in staining all those pretty white details, too! Maybe a shaved fennel salad to start, followed by little bowls of potato leek soup, then a lovely Riesling poached trout with roasted parsnips. For dessert, a glorious coconut cake or course!
Lots of decor pictures, but NONE of the actual party. The afternoon of the party, I asked the husband to remind me to take pictures during the party. He did, only it was during breakfast the next morning, whoops! We were all too busy having a grand time to remember the pictures.
I served pretty traditional holiday party fare. Our dishwasher chose the week of the party to die a fast, leaky death, so large scale cooking was pretty much put on hold. I did buy a lovely ham and made hot mustard and pesto mayonnaise for the side, put out some veggies and dip, holiday snack mix, a big cheese platter, and a cake. My sister contributed a hot onion dip and a sweet cheese ball to round out the offerings. Everything was delicious! However, I over-bought where the ham was concerned and hope to never see another ham sandwich until June.
The hand drawn bow and evergreen wine cork toppers below were inspired by things found on the web. However, I neglected to save the source for either. The ideas just leaped out and stuck in my brain, so apologies to the brilliant minds that originally came up with them!
*My actual Christmas Day menu*
I’ve been busily compiling lists and recipes for the upcoming holiday weekend. Our house will be packed the 23rd-25th, with 8-11 people for dinner every night! Not to mention breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. That’s enough cooking coordination to challenge even the most experienced hostess.
My handy plan of attack to survive cooking for a crowd is detailed below. It’s especially helpful this time of year, but this basic plan will work anytime you find yourself with a house full of hungry guests. These tips will help you to plan ahead, know what you’re doing and when to do it, and make cooking for a crowd seem effortless!
PREPARE: The key to remaining calm amidst monstrous holiday meals is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Luckily for me, my wonderful mother is among our house guests this year. She is a terrific cook and taught me how to feed an onslaught of people for an extended time. We outlined menus for each meal during her last visit in November (prepare!) and fine tuned it over the phone. Then we gathered the appropriate recipes from our various collections and I wrote two (very large) shopping lists. One is for items I can get from my bulk store, the other is for items from the regular grocery. Write your shopping list in the order items appear in the store. All veggies together, then canned goods, then meat, etc. This will cut down on having to back track for items. After writing the list, double check it against the recipes AND any pantry items to make sure everything is covered.
PUT IT IN WRITING: I like to keep a daily menu posted on the fridge. This serves several purposes. 1 – it will keep everyone from bugging you about what’s for lunch, dinner, etc. 2- a good menu just looks pretty (download the one I designed this year shown above: blank printable holiday menu) 3 – it keeps me on track for what I need to do for each meal. Without a posted menu, it’s easy to forget to pull out the green beans when you are handling 3 or 4 other dishes. Or to put the rolls in. Or to make salad dressing. Or to set the butter out to soften. A written menu will serve as a handy reminder of what dishes should be in process at what time.
STICK WITH THE TRIED AND TRUE: I love to experiment with new dishes, but feeding a crowd is NOT the ideal time to do it! If you are dying to try out a new recipe for the holidays, make a small trial batch a few weeks before. Doing so will familiarize the process, frame expectations for time and effort, and allow for a taste test before making something in bulk.
MAKE SOME MIS: Mis en place is a French term that refers to having all ingredients for a recipe prepped and in place prior to beginning to cook. This is super handy during the holidays. The morning or afternoon before a big meal, wash and chop whatever vegetables possible, measure and store in plastic sandwich bags. Measure out spices and put in tiny bowls or bags. Measure liquids and put in lidded plastic containers. Keep these prepped items together by dish in the fridge and pull out when ready to cook.
CLEAN AS YOU GO: Wash those pots and pans as soon as they are relieved of duty. Wipe the counter down often. Put ingredients away ASAP. Delegate these tasks whenever possible!
BEFRIEND THE CHECKLIST: Like the printed menu, a checklist helps keep everything moving along. But unlike the menu, this is the place to record non-cooking related tasks, too, like chilling the wine or ironing napkins. Take a minute to jot down a quick checklist of things that need to be done in the order they need to be completed.
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES: Look, it doesn’t matter how many huge meals a person has cooked or how accomplished they are in the kitchen, sh*t happens sometimes. It’s especially bound to happen when a kitchen is full of those trying-to-be-helpful bodies that seem to multiply during the holidays. So what if the gravy burned while your sister was supposed to be constantly stirring it? It’s going to be OK, it is just a meal after all! It’s hard to cook for a crowd, so turn a deaf ear to criticism (and to all you moms and mother-in-laws out there, DON’T criticize), do your very best, and make sure there’s a hidden bottle of wine somewhere just for you!
Happy cooking, hostesses!
Here’s another beautiful and deceptively simple holiday table from the galleries at Style Me Pretty. I love the red and ice blue color palette paired with white and silver. And the cranberries!
Cranberries are such an easy and inexpensive decorating element for the holidays. They are versatile, too as displayed in this table. They are lovely around the base of the cake, but also look great mixed with crystals in the tall vases. A quick handful thrown on a platter really dresses up a ham or cheese display on a buffet, too.
I had to include this lovely little runner detail as well. It’s a brilliant way to handle a runner that is too short to hit the floor. The bundle of berry twigs adds such a pretty note and gathers the runner and looks totally intentional.
This table is a great inspiration for a last minute table. Cut and iron some pretty fabric to make a quick runner. Then pick up a bag of cranberries at the grocery and some large red bows – they’ll be on sale by now, too! Break out the china and crystal and you’ll have a lovely holiday table.
I love love love this party from Piggy Bank Parties. How perfect for a birthday that falls near Christmas OR a holiday party in general. Who doesn’t love the Peanuts gang??