By Erin Velander of Blomma Designs
(All photos by Erica Rose)
It’s official. We have snow, darkness and along with it the holidays have begun! It seems that Halloween officially kicks off the season and we suddenly have a plethora of places to be, events to attend and holiday traditions to share with friends and family. I’m a fan of entertaining, especially at home. Here are some tips for creating your perfect holiday soiree.
Keep it simple (fairly) – Whether you’re preparing a dinner party for 8 or hosting 40 guests for hors d’oeuvre it is best to keep it simple, somewhat. It isn’t fun for anyone when the host or hostess is stressed out over having the perfect napkin fold or the right color of wine to match the table settings. I find that the most enjoyable gatherings are when your host has put some thought into making a few finishing touches unique, like a personalized place setting, but the event still feels relaxed and all walks of life feel welcome. My recommendations are using local and reusable ingredients as decor. Seasonal produce like kumquats, clementines, pomegranates, persimmons and squash all make a wonderful statement as a part of your tablescape (and you can eat them in the days that follow). Go outside and clip greens right out of your backyard and use them to fill the space on your table. They smell wonderful and last for days!
Use darkness to your advantage – I crave the darkness because all summer long at events I don’t ever get to use candles or ambient lighting! Now that it’s dark, pull out all of your heirloom candlesticks, pillar candles and even string lights to create a warm glow inside your home. Alaskans equate darkness with winter and there’s nothing more romantic than candle light during a dinner or a holiday party. Keep in mind a little goes a long way. Don’t go overboard.
Cherish tradition – Does your family or partner’s family have traditions for the holidays? If so, share these with one another! My husband is Scandinavian so we make (or attempt to make) lefse and a German springerle cookies. His mother has a cookie stamp that is over 100 years old! My father is from New England so we always have clam chowder on Christmas Eve and we open one gift that night. Or maybe you celebrate Hanukkah or Winter Solstice? Traditions are important and they enrich our lives by creating lasting memories. Pick two or three that are the most important to you and stick with them.
Food IS a decoration – Food is beautiful. Especially bright produce and desserts! There’s nothing anyone likes better than walking into an event that has a sensational display of hors d’oeuvre or sweets. Let your food speak for itself. After all, it has so much to do with who we are and it’s a great conversation piece. If you prefer an eclectic look use a mismatch of heirloom pieces and patterns for vessels. If you like a sleek or clean look use solid colors like white and cream ceramic vessels to display your treats.
Shop Locally – The holidays are a great time to support small businesses. Local products are also a great ice-breaker and they tend to spark conversation. Buy cheeses from a locally-owned purveyor. They’ll help you pair them with the wines you’ll be serving. Stop in at a spirits store and show them your menu. They will happily help you pair beer, wine, sherry or whatever you fancy to complement the meal. Pick up hand-made chocolates or truffles to add to your desserts table. Splurge and buy one large or a few small centerpieces from a local florist to give your table that extra something. People will take notice and appreciate these little touches.
Here’s more photos that we put together for inspiration:
Erin is an Anchorage event planner and designer who also enjoys all things entertaining. For more tips and ideas, visit Blomma Designs.