A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL PARTY FOR THE GIRLS

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Hello, my favorite cocktailing friends. Was your weekend filled with the first of the holiday parties, ice skating, decorating, shopping and festivities? Ours was! I have to say, though. I'm a little jealous. While there was some chill in the California air this weekend, it didn't compare to the fresh white snow our friends in Chicago woke up to this morning!

'Tis the season to be merry, so with or without snow, I'm ready to throw a holiday cocktail party for my gal pals. We're talking a batch or two of festive cocktails, sparkling on ice, apps and desserts for days, and maybe a few additions to your holiday décor (or not). It can be fancy or casual, but put on your favorite cocktail dress, jeans, heels, add some red lipstick and you'll be ready to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with your besties.

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Ready to celebrate? Before all the hustle and bustle is in full swing, get together with your people to share some stories, good laughs, each other, and then head over to The Inspired Home for all the details on this year's holiday cocktail fête.

xx, deborah

MAD FOR PLAID HOLIDAY TABLE

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Hello my fabulous hostess friends! Are you ready to set the table for the holidays? C'est noel!

I absolutely adore the holidays and it's probably not a huge surprise that Christmas is one of my favorites. The family traditions, the magic that happens, twinkling lights everywhere and the memories that are made, are exactly what makes this the most wonderful time of the year. Really! I loved this season when I was growing up and passing down our family traditions to my children has always been important to me.

'Tis the season to deck the halls and this year, I'm just mad about plaid so I'm bringing it to the table. I'm hosting both brunch and dinner this holiday (I know!), so I'm going with my Sophistiplate 'dinnerware'. You remember, it's the disposable line of pretty paper made in Italy and perfect for easy entertaining. I treat it just as I do my fine china or casual dinnerware, mixing it with my best stemware, barware. flatware, linens and decor, but at the end of a dinner or party, I can toss it all away. Read more about these pretty plates and how I set this year's table below.

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All about it:

Linens: I fell for the Classic Stewart Tartan Plaid table runner and napkins from Williams-Sonoma the minute I laid eyes on it. The festive colors of the plaid, mixed with classic hues of your holiday dinnerware is a sure way to make your table and home feel merry and bright. I doubled the napkins as placemats here, and added a simple white napkin from Sophistiplate to each placesetting for an easier clean up between brunch and dinner. Charming, isn't it?

Tablesetting: For this table setting I used the Sophistiplate Bianca Rosso Collection for a traditional and festive holiday look. I think the classic combination of white plates mixed with a hint of red is a perfect balance with the plaid. The collection includes a Pearly White Petalo Colore charger plates and dinner plates, Satin Red Righe Salad/Dessert Plates, and White Petalo Colore appetizer and dessert bowls, along with white napkins. It's sold as a set of eight and all items are also available à la carte. I layered the collection, and used a wood charger underneath to elevate the placesettings and to add a natural element to the table. My favorite part? The mix of metals! The medley of my Marchesa Imperial Gold Caviar flatware, copper cocktail mugs, and silver serving pieces added a perfect amount of holiday glow. I think the real drama came in with my favorite black champagne flutes. Mine are vintage, but you can find similar ones at Z Gallerie, where I bought mine several years ago.

Decor: I wanted the decor to be as charming and traditional as the classic plaid linens. I laid branches of berry eucalyptus down the runner, added white washed wood trees on a silver tray, a few pine cones, white pillar candles, silver mercury votive holders, my favorite reindeer ornaments, silver candle sticks, and scattered fresh pomegranates for a splash of color. The jingle bell napkin rings were a darling addition and the black velvet ribbon added just enough color to the placesetting. I tucked in some greenery for a little more holiday vibe.

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GET THE LOOK:

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Bonterra Organic Vineyards | American Winery of the Year.

Bonterra Organic Vineyards | American Winery of the Year.

To keep things simple, I'm using the same dinnerware collection for brunch and dinner. I can create the sets ahead, and stack and store them until I'm ready to set the table for dinner. Since I'll have some of the same guests for brunch and dinner, I wanted to freshen and change up table and linens a bit. I kept all the same flatware, stemware, barware, decor and accents, but to show off the white placesettings against the white tablecloth, I added rattan placemats for color and dimension. So easy!

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Traditional Holiday Table
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Holiday Cranberry Moscow Mules: Recipe below.

Holiday Cranberry Moscow Mules: Recipe below.

Whether you're mad for plaid, too, or have another idea all together, set a festive table, whip up a signature cocktail or two, turn up your holiday playlist, surround yourself with loved ones, and fill your day with happy and cozy moments.

xx, deborah

Holiday Cranberry Moscow Mules

1      Shot of Vodka
1/2Cup of Cranberry Juice
1     Squeeze of Fresh Lime
Top the rest of your mug with Ginger Beer

Give all ingredients a brisk stir. Top with fresh mint leave and garnish with cranberries. You can also make a batch in a pitcher and refrigerate. Pour mixture into a mule when guests arrive, top with ginger beer, mint and garnish.

           

  Photography: Stefanie Schoen; The Style Safari

                                                         Thank you to our friends at Sophistiplate for partnering with us on this post.

HOLIDAY HOSTESS GIFT IDEAS

Photo: c/o Sugar Paper LA

Don't you just love pretty little packages? Me, too, and especially when they're wrapped with my favorite paper line, Sugar Paper LA. Sophisticated and pretty, these blush, white, gold, stripe and dot papers, ribbons and chic accessories are from their holiday collection at Target and my pick for wrapping hostess, Christmas and Hanukkah gifts this year. Now, for what's inside!

With Thanksgiving just a week away, 'tis the season to be thankful and to think about host and hostess gifts for those who invited you to join their table or event this holiday season. Here are a few of my favorite thoughtful gifts any entertaining enthusiast would be happy to receive and...will remember.

Think about cocktail parties, family gatherings, the annual holiday girl crush party and, the intimate couples dinner with your gang. I’m really, really big on hostess gifts and think there’s nothing better than receiving a gift that was made especially for you.

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HOMEMADE GINGERBREAD HOT CHOCOLATE: An adorable gift idea for the family! Fill a "family sized" jar, with homemade gingerbread hot chocolate (recipe below), layer with mini marshallows, peppermint sticks or candy canes, and decorate with some happy holiday ribbon and a gingerbread cookie, cookie-cutter or ornament. I like to add enough mugs for the family and this year, I'm including these sweet Wilton candy cane spoons I found at Michaels. Don't stress if you don't have time to bake homemade gingerbread cookies (that would be me!), I found these adorable little guys at Williams-Sonoma and right around Thanksgiving, you'll be able to find them at your favorite local bakery or market.

Hostess Gift Ideas - How to Celebrate Everything

HOW TO CELEBRATE EVERYTHING: This book by Jenny Rosenstrach is the perfect gift for any entertainer, mom or mommy. Jenny is the author of the ever popular blog and book Dinner: A Love Story, and New York times bestseller, Dinner: The Playbook. Filled with ideas, recipes, inspiration and humor, this is the guide to turning everyday family occasions and holidays into "rituals" to be remembered. I heart that.

kate spade new york cookie cutter set & kate spade new york recipe box: Fab gifts for your chic BFF's kitchen. The reusable cookie tin is almost too cute and the recipe box is covered in linen and filled with signature ksny recipe cards. You'll want to snag these gifts for yourself.

Hostess Gifts for the Tea Lover
Hostess Gifts - Sugar spoons

Pinky Up Tea Set: Create your own gift box with a Teapot, Sugar Spoons, add some Chai Latte Tea or other favorite blends, and you'll make any tea loving hostess happy.

Hostess Gifts - Ice Cream Lover

kate spade new york ice cream set: This is the gift for the girl who eats cake for breakfast, because you know there's ice cream involved. And, what cake and ice cream fan wouldn't love these dot ice cream bowls for a stylish spin on dessert.

Hostess gifts - Movie & Popcorn

Popcorn & A Movie: Pair a large popcorn bowl with enough individual popcorn bowls for each member of the family. Fill with flavored popcorn, a specialty salt, (hold the butter!), a holiday movie or movie tickets and you'll be included on the guest list again.

Hostess Gifts Homemade

No matter what you gift to say thank you to your hosts and hostess, remember the best ones come from the heart and that happiness is homemade.

xx, deborah

Gingerbread Hot Cocoa Mix

Our favorite recipe by Half Baked Harvest

Makes 12-16 cups of hot cocoa

  • 2 cups cocoa powder
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scrapped out
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky seas salt
  • 1-2 cups mini marshmallows

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. If needed, do this in two batches. Process until the chocolate is finely ground and the mix looks like hot cocoa mix. Store the mix in a glass jar or other container with a tight fitting lid. When ready to assemble, fill the remainder of the jar with mini marshmallows, add peppermint sticks or small pieces of candy canes. Label and decorate the jar as desired.

 

HOW TO SET A FALL HARVEST THANKSGIVING TABLE

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It’s almost Thanksgiving, which happens to be my very favorite holiday of the year, so when my friends at The Inspired Home asked me to share my ideas on setting a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving table, I was all about it. Whether you’re hosting a casual Friendsgiving or a formal Thanksgiving affair for the family, the table ingredients are fairly simple, but it’s time to get started because the big day will be here before you know it.

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I love the mix of black, white and gold on the table. I think it’s a good balance between sophisticated and casual, so this trio mixed with mini white pumpkins, pears and walnuts will be the theme for this year’s table. The combo just feels so fresh, fall, and festive and says “let’s celebrate” in so many ways.

Down the middle of the table, I started with a white linen table runner, topped it with layers of lemon leaf, and scattered heirloom pumpkins, bosc pears, walnuts and silver painted antlers. I kept the florals simple with fresh (and crisp) white hydrangeas and spider mums, added white pillar candles, along with my silver candlesticks and white tapers.

Taking the lead in dinnerware shown here, is a new line of disposable pretty paper for your table from Italy (I know, hard to believe!). Just introduced in the U.S, Sophistiplate is designed to mix + match and perfect for those who love easy entertaining. For each placesetting, I used The French Chef Rattan Round Placemats by Lenox and layered it with the black, white and gold Bellezza Collection from Sophistiplate. To get the look, I used a Petalo Pearly White Charger Plate, topped with a Solid Gold Righe Dinner Plate, an Opaque Black Righe Salad Plate and tucked a simple White Napkin underneath the charger. To add a bit of sophistication to the paper, I paired it with my Lenox Eternal Gold Stemware, Marchesa Imperial Gold Caviar Flatware and added Zodax Gold Stemless Champagne Glasses, for a little extra holiday sparkle. I'm especially excited about the new Bellezza Collection, because I designed it and it's my very first collection.

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I topped each salad plate with alternating pears and mini-white pumpkins, adding "i am thankful" placecards that I printed, cut and tied to each stem with medium weight twine, for a personal touch and lots of pretty. Another idea is to add greenery or herbs to double as napkin rings.

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I believe a guest should be greeted with a glass of champagne or a favorite cocktail as they walk through the door. After that, it's fun to set up a self-service bar for everyone to help themselves and keep the hosts free to enjoy their party or event. We love a signature cocktail because they're easy to manage and we always have something sparkling on ice, along with red and white wine ready to pour. This year's signature drink is Apple Cider & Champagne Sangria. Sound great? It is, and all you party people are going to love it!

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My advice for this upcoming “thankful dinner” table is take check with this simple list: Dinnerware, chargers, flatware, tablecloth, table runner, placemats, napkins, serve ware, festive turkey platters, fall décor, napkin rings, placecards and lots of candles. And, last but not least, the perfect glasses for a holiday toast.

Remember to take a moment to give thanks for all your blessings and your family and friends around you. From our table to yours, we wish you an unforgettable and Happy Thanksgiving!

xx, Deborah

 

Apple Cider Champagne Sangria

Ingredients:

3 Crisp red apples, thinly sliced
1  Cup pomegranate seeds 1/2 cup cognac
2 cups apple cider
750ml bottle cava (or other dry sparkling wine), chilled
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

3 cups Garnish: 1 bottle dry sparkling wine, chilled

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a tall pitcher, hold the champagne! Refrigerate overnight.  

When ready to serve, pour Sangria into a pretty glasses (be sure each glass gets some fruit!), top with chilled champagne and add a cinnamon stick for garnish.

Sounds easy, right? It is. What we love is, you can make it ahead!

                                                                 Photography: Stefanie Schoen, The Style Safari