Oh by gosh, by golly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly!”
Last night I hosted my annual Christmas cocktail party, which started at 5 pm and ended up going until 1 am. I suppose that’s the sign of a successful cocktail party! Last year I wanted everything to look snowy and shimmery. This year I went in a complete opposite direction: I wanted it feel like it was set in the farmhouse I hope to someday own, as if my horses were right outside, keeping warm in the barn while snow softly falls.
For the dining room decor, I decorated a 6′ Fraser Fir (I always have a real tree) and reserved the cuttings from the bottom of the tree to decorate my table. These branches hung out in my laundry room for two weeks and hardly dropped any needles! The pinecones scattered amongst the tree branches were lovingly handpicked at my parents’ lake house by my mom and family friend Carol. (Hi, Carol!)
For the flowers, I thought red roses and white hydrangeas would make a holly, jolly impact. I found the winter tree vases at a little shop on the square in my hometown, Rockwall, a couple of weeks ago.
I tossed some cranberries and water in large mason jars and topped with floating candles for festive lights that wouldn’t have heat directly on my table and wouldn’t ruin the mason jars like a votive candle would by melting. I highly recommend this trick!
I tried to incorporate as many wooden serving dishes as possible but a lot of the dishes (okay, most of the dishes) were warm so I used wood where I could: the cookie platter, the tortilla chip bowl, etc.
I used two chaffing dishes, one for the spinach dip and one for the meatballs. I’m not sure why they ever went out of fashion. They’re so useful! Can we please bring chaffing dishes back? Headbands too. I refuse to accept that they’re out of fashion.
I decided on a menu radically different than the typical cocktail party menu. I wanted comfort food. Here’s what I came up with:
This cake was a winner. It basically tastes like Christmas joy. You’ve heard about my love of Fiori di Sicilia (orange-vanilla extract) before, but this cake takes it to a whole new level. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow so be sure to check back!
For the music, I went classic: Kenny G ‘s Greatest Holiday Classics, Michael Buble’s Christmas (Deluxe Special Edition), and Christmas with the Rat Pack. I wanted the playlist to match the vintage champagne glasses I found.
In addition to wine and champagne, I set out a self-spike pitcher of eggnog and offered a hot cocoa bar. I made ten batches of my Homemade Hot Cocoa but omitted the cinnamon. I set out semi-sweet, butterscotch, and chocolate chips, freshly whipped vanilla cream, vanilla marshmallows, peppermint spoons, pirouette cookies, and Frangelico and salted caramel Kahlua so guests could create their own perfect mix.
Much later in the evening, we all gathered in the living room for Christmas charades. I wrote the game probably four years ago and some are harder than you think. I still don’t know how Die Hard was guessed so quickly!
Earlier in the week, I made three kinds of fudge (German Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Peppermint, and Maple Walnut) to wrap up for guests to take home. I set the bags of fudge by the front door in a galvanized tub. My niece, pictured below, was quite pleased to leave with fudge.
It was a festive evening full of laughter. I ran to my bathroom to powder my nose halfway through the night and I stopped to listen to the happy murmur coming from the rest of the house and I thought, This is what Christmas is all about!
See more photos from A Mistletoe & Holly Affair 2015: