A Seasonal Soirée

I absolutely love entertaining and any excuse to throw a party, but our annual holiday party has become my favorite night of the entire year. We love gathering a bunch of good friends at our home for a fun cocktail party to celebrate the season and come full circle on another year. Keep reading for a few snapshots I managed to capture of this year’s holiday soiree (between running around), including a few party planning tips.

My seasonal decorating style is carefully considered, but not overdone. I like to keep it simple and festive, without going over-the-top holiday. I wrapped fresh garland around the entryway to the dining room, hung a spruce wreath on the door with rope, and laid extra trimmings from the garland on the bar table. I get all my greenery and flowers at Whole Foods.

I always set up the food buffet style on my farmhouse table and clear away the chairs, allowing guests to walk around to fill their plates. We stationed a low centerpiece in the middle, created by tucking a combination of wintry flowers, greenery, and berries into a vintage wood sugar mold rented from A La Crate Vintage Rentals. Votives at either end of the row of flowers added twinkling light. This was all John’s handiwork—I provided the materials and direction, and he used his well-tested skills from years spent in his great aunt’s flower shop!

In the office, we set out a make-your-own Old Fashioned bar on a low bookshelf, along with white and red wine and a selection of local beer. Old Fashioned cocktails are a classic Wisconsin drink. Sharing ingredients and instructions for one signature drink also frees you up to socialize and take care of other hostessing duties. Here’s the recipe:

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Few dashes Angostura bitters
2 maraschino cherries
2 orange slices
Brown sugar cube
2 ounces bourbon or brandy

In a lowball glass, add four dashes bitters, one stemmed cherry, an orange slice, a sugar cube and a splash of 7-Up. Muddle ingredients. Fill glass with ice and top with 2 ounces bourbon or brandy. Top with 7-Up and garnish with a cherry and an orange slice (pre-threaded onto cocktail sticks for guests).

Perhaps the best compliment as a host? We started the party at 6pm but our guests didn’t leave until WAY after midnight. Always a success when your guests stick around because they’re having so much fun!

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