When there’s no pressure on an evening, when friends gather around the table, and enjoy every last bite and sip. Where the record spins with classic Christmas tunes and the twinkle of white lights on the tree set the backdrop. This gathering was a bit more laid back than our norm, but the perfect time to stop and be intentional with those we love.
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Every year I decide to choose a different recipe, pushing me slightly past my comfort zone and allowing my guests to enjoy. This year, I’ve been loving my latest kitchen addition and expanding my repertoire of recipes that utilize my dutch oven, choosing a braised lamb shank and creamy cauliflower puree with fresh herbs. This lightened up the dish and kept things not overly heavy. To keep things festive and light, I added a kale and pomegranate salad with a lemon white balsamic vinaigrette from a regional grower. Additional courses include a charcuterie platter with varietals of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar for dipping and a lovely boozy hot chocolate ala mode.
When it comes to setting the table, we wanted to keep the look cohesive with the rest of the home. By using a simple taper candle holder with a glass box underneath, we placed seasonal greenery and a few leftover bulbs from the tree in rich jewel tones. With a simple linen runner, gold flatware, and stoneware, we love this year’s trends of combining the luxurious with the common. Our palette was neutral with contrasting textures. A worn nubby linen, a smooth stoneware, a shiny flatware, and glazed ceramic plates. As a finishing touch we added stemmed glassware and a menu card from Artifact Uprising. This year they launched a fresh line of holiday invites and we were so excited to be included in this launch phase. With a few simple adaptations to their already beautiful and modern designs, we ordered both paper invites and adjusted the same design for a stunning menu. Also on the plate we added a sprig of douglas fir and a miniature copper ornament with the perfect gold thread. The final result was a simple and intentional table that glistened underneath the candlelight.
Tips and hacks we use every time.
Don’t have time to build a playlist? Use ours on Spotify instead.
Utilize every square inch.
In our townhome, the lower level is around 500 square feet. Needless to say parties can get tight. We chose a cut of meat that didn’t need to be carved, allowing our island to double as a serving space. For the antipasto platter, we placed it on the island, and our prep dishes were done ahead leaving the sink empty. On the bar, we had glasses set and red wine available for guests to pour and help themselves. For each course, we had dishes placed in the kitchen ready to go for plating so the table would feel less cluttered and would have a bit more breathing room.
Plan for late arrivals.
Look at the dish that takes the longest time and estimate it’s completion for 30 minutes past your originally suggested time. Plan backward from there. This entire gathering took a total cooking time of 3 hours. Once we had prepped the meat, we plowed through our list from there. Prepping items line by line and allowing 30 minutes to get ready, we were on schedule and not feeling crazed when guests arrived.
While we love the idea of another dinner party, think about an unexpected element that shows love, care, and intention for your guests. In the past, it’s been encouraging notes at every place setting. On other occasions it’s been the whimsy of menu that is a poem, as each line ushers in a new course. With this dinner, it was a simple invite and menu, celebrating the dishes that we would savor and the beauty of snail mail for each guest. Simple, thoughtful, and beautiful.
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