Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Any Ideas?

Okay, so after Thanksgiving, approximately 2 weeks later, I will be hosting my department Christmas Party. I'm guessing about 30 people, made up of current and old employees and a few non-work friends. I'm already starting to freak out about this but would like to get past turkey day before I advance to the full freak out. Most of these people have never seen my house before and I really, really want everything to look perfect. And I know, it isn't about things, or the house, or whatever, its about being with friends and acquaintances and blah, blah ,blah. People, I want my house to be over the top. Homey and smelling good and not a speck of filth anywhere, filled with meaningful touches and a jaunty 50s Christmas song soundtrack, and just the best Christmas decorations anywhere. I want people to contemplate what they have to do to live there. I know that this is unreasonable and materialistic and self-absorbed but this is what happens when you read Martha Stewart Living every month for 10 years. To make things worse, the week before I will be attending the Marietta Christmas House Tour and will witness amazing feats of craftiness and brilliance that people spent a year thinking up and executing and I will try unsuccessfully to duplicate in less than a week. An 8-foot tree form made entirely of fresh fruit and greenery? I think I can do that!

So, what brilliant decorating/entertaining tips can you contribute? I'm having trouble with the outside. I want outdoor decorations that are natural looking (no inflatable thingies or motorized deer), with white lights, and that aren't too hard to assemble. I have plenty of pine/cedar trees on my property from which to borrow. I have ivy. Give me ideas! And what about food? Can you recall just the best appetizer that you've ever had?


Blogger Xris said...

Decorating the XMas tree each year is one of my favorite things to do. I like to invite friends over to help decorate, make hot cocoa, soup, munchies. I don't do much more than that indoors. Last year, I did garland and lights outside for the first time ever. It was our first holiday season in our new house.

As your time, energy and patience permit:

Outside, you could make the following from the ivy, pine and cedar. You can use twine or wire to tie it all together as needed. If you use twine, then the whole thing can get composted when you're done.
If you have branches of anything with berries on them, they could spruce it up even more:
- A wreath on the front door
- Garland around the front door
- Garland above windows

More outside:
- Use lumninaria to light the path to the front door.
- Lights in the front windows to light up the outside.

- More garlands and swags of the greenery above and around doorways, windows, stairways, mantels, etc.
- Lots of flexible seating, side tables for food and drink, buffet for self-service.
- Use tablecloths, kitchen towels, even quilts and blankets on tables and draped over the backs of seating for color and comfort.
- Warm lighting, eg: incandescent bulbs on dimmers and/or candles enclosed in lanterns for fire safety.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

I can't add much to the last post, it was great! Just keep it natural, and people will be impressed.

Try looking through the christmas issue of country living magazine for ideas, too.

Oh, I agree with you about fragrance. My sister in law had some sort of heated christmas-scented potpourri pot going, once when we were there for dinner--that really set the mood.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Sean Carter said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Having friends over to help is a great idea. We are planning on putting our Thanksgiving guests to work hanging lights. It will keep them from talking politics. ;-)

Some of my favorite appetizers:

• A dab of chutney (I use my homemade green tomato and apple chutney) and a thin slice of provolone cheese on very thin slices of French bread. You can put the ingredients out separately on a festively decorated cheese board, or pre-assemble them.

• On the chutney theme, here's my favorite dip ever. It's really good with plain ol' Wheat Thins. Combine an 8-oz. package of cream cheese (I use neufchatel), 1/2 c. Major Grey's Chutney, 1/4 c. chopped cilantro, and 1/2 tsp. good curry powder. Mix well. Drool-worthy.

• You know those tiny pre-shaped phyllo nests? Put a little glob of brie and a little glob of strawberry jelly in each one, then chuck them in the oven to turn golden-brown and melty. They don't even have to be served hot to be delectable. You can make your own phyllo nests, but I'm assuming time is at a premium here.

Good luck!

8:19 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Wow. So many good ideas! I have wreaths for the front doors and I like the idea of greenery on all the windows. If I just do the front, that is still 9 windows, so better get started. I need to find something with berries though. Candles will be in all the windows and I love the luminaria idea.

I found a recipe for mulled pomegranate cider that I think will give the house a nice smell and taste good too! And I love those appetizer ideas. They look easy and really good! Thanks!

9:43 AM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

Since you already have wreaths for the front doors, this might not be helpful, but the easiest Christmas door decoration I've found is a swag or spray or whatever cut from evergreen branches. Cut different varieties in differing lengths and place them all going in the same direction (like a bunch of flowers). Wire the end and add a bow or raffia, for a more natural look. Hang them on the door, greenery part pointing down. I can't do this at my house because the one pine tree we have in the yard is too high. The lowest branches are a good 15 feet up in the air. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we can do it this year -- we'll just buy an little bigger Christmas tree and use the lower branches for the doors.

Xris really said everything needed to be said about entertaining. One other thing I like to do is simmer some whole spices with clementine peel. I have a mini crockpot but you can do it on the stovetop, too. I put in whatever I have, but it generally turns out being clementine peel, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, chopped ginger and anise stars. It smells great -- although your pomegranate cider will do the trick, too. Also, clementines are great to have out on the table for the holidays. They look so pretty in a glass bowl with a few evergreen sprigs stuck inside.

I don't blame you one bit for wanting your home to shine for your guests. I don't think it's materialistic at all -- our homes are an extension of us: our thoughts, our taste, our families, the way we view life. If you were like, "I insist that a Mercedes be parked in the drive as our friends walk up!" then yeah, I guess you could say you were being materialistic. :o) Having a clean and comfortable place for your guests to enjoy themselves is just being a good host.

11:00 AM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

By the way, you don't exactly stick the evergreen sprigs in the clementines themselves, just around them in the bowl. :oD

11:41 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

I love the clementine idea. I'm really into orange this year for some reason. And do buy a taller tree than you need. We do that unintentionally every year (went from an apartment in a victorian house with 10 foot ceilings to 8 foot ceilings and still haven't gotten used to it) and always have enough extra to make a big wreath for between the garage doors.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, completely unoriginal, but it came in the mail yesterday: December's issue of Martha Stewart Living. The whole big idea in it this issue is How To Throw A Buffet. Seriously, how timely is THAT?

My only suggestion? LOTS of booze. In you, on the table, etc.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and glogg stinks the place up to high heaven. Google recipes for it. And it helps with my last tip :)

3:36 PM  
Blogger EFB said...

i'm so not good with christmas decorations. i really do like the luminaria and candles in the window idea though.

mulled wine is also very nice.

and of course fairy lights.

and don't forget the mistletoe so you can freak out your coworkers!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I need to get out more.

It all sounds wonderful. If I lived closer, I would totally crash your party. I'd bring the glogg. ;)

6:33 PM  
Anonymous david said...

bake a loaf of bread just moments before the guest arrive and you'll have several offers to buy your home before the bread cools. the fragrance of home baked bread will have your guest telling each other about their childhood memories and will add this visit to your home to those treasured memories as well.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:51 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Why am I getting all these spam comments? Anyway, I love the bread idea. I will totally make people sick with my supreme homemakerness. Haha. Just kidding. And El, will definitely google glog. I've never heard of it. Booze is a must. Nix the mistletoe. There is absolutely no coworker I would want to kiss, even all hopped up on Glogg. Will pick up MSL at the store soon. Sweet Martha, always coming to my rescue. You can crash Liz. I have an extra air mattress. I'd let you the guest bedroom but my drunk friend Tracy already has dibs (Hi Skank!).

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Pennie said...

Oh lord...you give me anxiety just reading your post. =) I could never host a party like that because I'd freak and probably turn all the lights off and hide down in the basement for the night =)

But...for outside I hang plain wreaths with a a wide ribbon. I run the ribbon up and through the top of the window and the plain wreath hangs about mid-way down. This is simple and with candles in the windows looks really beautiful.
You can get plain wreaths at the craft store for next to nothing...along with the ribbon. I like burgandy colored ribbon, but that's up to you.

10:21 AM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

Oh wow, I love the wreaths on a long ribbon idea. I'm going to try that, definitely.

The only thing I know about Glogg is that they sell it at IKEA at Christmastime. I have no idea what bottled Glogg tastes like but I have been eyeing it up for a number of years. I should just break down and buy one.

I've been wondering what the deleted posts were about, Meredith. I was hoping it wasn't someone posting something nasty -- I'm glad it's just the garden variety spam.

10:50 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

No, nothing nasty, just stupid spam all of a sudden. Grrrr. I love the wreaths on ribbons idea.

10:54 AM  

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