By Maura Montez :: photography by Jamison Mosley :: Stylist Steven Berardesca
Glassware from Party Gras in Little Rock
While any day can be a reason to celebrate with family and friends, the holiday season provides us with official reasons to gather together.
For your party planning, we’ve included 20 holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, November 24th, yes for some Black Friday is a holiday, ending with Super Bowl Sunday, February 5th.
With that in mind, we present a few tips and suggestions from music selections and more to set the mood; food and beverages, as well as special touches to make your home entertaining less stressful, while adding panache.
Whether it’s just you, you and someone special, a small group of friends, or a party for 100, may your holiday season be filled with joy that lasts long after the holiday season is officially over. And feel free to add more holidays for you to enjoy!
EAT & DRINK
SOUP FOR BRUNCH
Caterer Yolanda Hughes of RSVP Little Rock has been putting satisfied smiles on the faces of Arkansans for more than 40 years at events from corporate events to weddings to fundraisers and home parties. “A soup bar is extremely versatile,” according to Hughes. “It can work for a brunch, lunch or dinner.”
Hughes shares a few tips to make your entertaining easier as well as adding a little fun to your presentation to earn you a few ooohhs and aahhhs.
Serve three different types of soups like a chili, a chicken tortilla and a hearty vegetable.
Provide a variety of garnishes–shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, bacon, etc.
To make certain you don’t miss a drop of soup, offer a variety of crackers and breads—sliced baguettes, crusty rolls and cornbread which you can present in a variety of flavors such as Mexican cornbread with jalapenos and corn or add spicy sausage and cheddar cheese.
Get creative with how you present the soup to your guests. Use a martini, margarita or shot glass. It not only shows off your soup, it can make it easier to carry while standing or dancing.
An easy snack is hummus. “Almost everyone eats hummus,” according to Hughes. You can purchase some good hummus or make it yourself. Put it in an attractive bowl and surround it with fresh veggies in bite sized pieces, pita chips, or your favorite chip or hearty cracker.
Last but not least, spice up breakfast or brunch with some caramelized bacon. Make more than you think you need. P.S. It’s a great stirrer for your bloody Mary.
PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
Linda Wofford and Tony Hopson of the Everyday Chef in Little Rock and Jonesboro share their advice for presenting food.
For a buffet style presentation use an 8-9 inch plate. It’s always fun to have a theme for your celebration, even if it’s breakfast for the family. Use a few serving pieces with holiday décor or team colors to emphasize the celebration of choice.
Don’t worry if you don’t have matching flatware, use heavy-duty plastic ware. It works perfectly and cuts down on your cleanup.
Always keep plenty of beverage and hostess napkins.
Use food risers to implement different heights of your food. It’s good for the table’s visual appeal and you can provide extra visibility to those special dishes.
Tablecloths are recommended no matter the table you’re using. It comes in handy to catch spills
Wofford and Hopson suggest keeping your glassware simple. “Good staple glasses to have on hand are highball and double old-fashioned’ ones for mixed drinks.”
INSIDE THE HOME
Steven Berardesca of Tanarah Luxe Floral General Manager, is a believer in small touches making a big impact – and you and those in your household will enjoy them just as visitors will. “Use neutral holiday decorations for tablescapes, mantels, mirrors—lots of greenery like flat cedar, white or crème colored flowers, earth tones like pine cones. You can then add and remove special ornaments or pieces as your transition from Thanksgiving into Hanakkah or Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve.
“Mixed metallic will also carry through all of the holidays,” stated Steven. “Start with copper and gold. Closer to Christmas, you can take out, or leave in the coppers and add silver tones.”
“Fresh flowers make a space really feel alive,” stated Steven. “Even a small vase with a bud or two makes a difference.” Steven’s personal favorite is the peony. He says blue hydrangea with brown tones is impactful.
Other touches like a whimsical hand-towel in the bathroom bring a smile to guests. With Christmas Day an all day and night NBA game event, add your favorite team colors to your décor.
For overnight guests, Steven quotes etiquette guru Emily Post, “Etiquette truly is the comfort in your home.” With that in mind, he suggests adding a family quilt to the guest bedroom, and of course fresh flowers. Find out their favorite magazine and snack for a turndown surprise. “Give the area some genuine love,” added Steven. “It’s all about making your guests feel welcome and as if you specifically thought about them.”
OUTSIDE THE HOME
Home touches extend outdoors. Because the calendar says fall or winter, Arkansans can enjoy nights of relatively warm weather. Lawrie Rash of Ken Rash Outdoor Furniture in Little Rock recommends, no matter the holiday or time of year, using classic white string lighting. “You can circle it around the patio, lace it through the trees.” Lawrie added, “By all means decorate for a specific holiday with red, green or blue lights too.”
To add to your comfort on chilly nights, Laurie recommends investing in a fire pit versus a chiminea’s. “Fire pits are easier to build a fire within, and you can sit people all the way around it, versus everyone trying to sit in front of the chiminea for heat.”
For a large patio space or if you have large gatherings, Laurie recommends an outdoor heater.
Take a look at your seating options. “Look at the quality of the cushioning of your outdoor furniture to accommodate guests of all ages,” stated Laurie. “If possible have outdoor club style chairs, a glider or sofa.” She recommends at the least to have four chairs. Four is considered a chat group.
Lawrie adds that if the weather is nice, don’t be afraid to pull your sofa from inside outside . . . just remember to bring it back in, because Arkansas weather is unpredictable.