A Holiday Guide
by Natalie Holland, owner & creator at Jade Magnolia
Setting the scene for any event or dinner party is key. It is the first thing your guests see as they enter your home. For a sit-down meal, the table and place settings are what you will want to spend your time creating. For a more casual holiday party, it will be the buffet or appetizer area.
During the holidays I like to decorate my tables with things I already have, or can easily make. I like making my own dried orange slices and adding them into a fresh garland, which you can find at local stores towards the end of November. Add in candles that you may already have, and you have created a magical atmosphere.
When entertaining, I also like to set my tables a few days ahead of time so I can really take my time. This also frees up room on the never-ending to-do list that comes along with hosting.
Dried orange slices:
Thinly slice oranges and pat them between two dish towels and remove as much moisture as possible. Then line them in a single layer on cookie sheets and bake at 200 for about three hours, or until dried and firm. Let them cool and use scattered around, as a garnish in drinks, or sting into garlands.
When planning your menu try to add as many items as you can that can be made ahead of time. For cocktail or holiday parties, seasonal cheese and charcuterie boards are a great place to start. They include something for everyone, they are pretty, you can include seasonal flavors and colors, and they are easy to make the day before. From there I like to include a few spreads, dips, and warm appetizers.
If you are hosting a holiday dinner create your menu around dishes you can make ahead of time. I like soups and salads as an option, you can completely make everything ahead of time and keep your soup hot in the crockpot or on the stove. Another option is a homemade lasagna or baked dish, you can make this a day to two before and have it baking when your guests arrive.
When thinking about drinks keep it simple. If you have a bar cart set this up ahead of time, except for things that need to be kept chilled and your garnishes. Include options for both cocktails and mock-tails. Around the holidays I like to serve both hot and cold drinks, like mulled ciders and seasonal cocktails.
Cider & Champagne
- 1 part spiced apple cider ( I like Trader Joes)
- 3 parts champagne
- Fresh cranberries, orange slices, and rosemary for garnish
When it comes to dessert for holiday parties I like to keep it pretty traditional and simple. You can serve cookies, pies, a variety of specialty chocolates, or apple cider donuts like we did here.
Photography: Ellie Koleen Photography
Venue: Historic Seven Sycamores
Styling & Design: Jade Magnolia
Donuts: Sunshine & Sugar Bakery
Place Setting Design: Elise Smith
Place Settings: World Market
photography: Ellie Koleen Photography
guest author: Natalie Holland