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Christmas Party + A Few Tips

What holiday homecoming is complete without dressing up at least once for a Christmas party? Many individuals are put off by throwing their own party because, let’s face it, organizing an event on top of work and family can at times seem daunting. As soon as Jack and I knew we would be flying home for Christmas this year, I begged my mom to let me throw a little shindig at their house. These are a few of the set-up pictures.

When planning a holiday get-together, be sure to choose quick, easy and inexpensive treats that can feed a large group. In keeping with this rule, I decided to make bruschetta. This dish requires tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and feta–all fairly inexpensive and best of all, a little goes a long way. Jack even made baguettes to go along with the bruschetta and save a little money. My parents also decided to buy one HoneyBaked Ham to avoid the hassle of baking all day, and lots of wine.

Another way to lower the stress and remain in budget is to simply ask your friends and family to bring something to share. Many people think they are required to provide everything for the party but most guests are more than happy to contribute and don’t even need to be asked. Remember, it is OK to let go of some of the party-planning responsibility…a tip I find myself repeating often.

Simple is better. Cheese, crackers, wine–even three themed ingredients can make a successful party. We had a wine and cheese bar at the party. My aunt and uncle contributed an out-of this-world homemade tomato jam (recipe to come), that we paired with crackers and various cheeses. I filled up on this combination alone.
A few of the contributed foods included: pumpkin dip and gingersnaps (courtesy of my sister), meatballs (mother-in-law), more cheese and cracker plates (you can never have too many), ham, pickle, and cream cheese rolls (sister-in-law), and more wine.

For the non-wine drinkers, we also created a fun little space for a hot chocolate bar. I emptied cocoa and marshmallows into tins from home depot, and filled a teapot with hot water right before the guests arrived. I also filled clear containers with cinnamon sticks for stirring, and pirouettes to pair with their drinks. We set out the mugs ahead of time for easy access and also decorated the cocoa bar with various desserts, Costco truffles on shiny flower cut outs and blackberry pie.

To decorate, we simply used ornaments and candles to add ambiance and sparkle to the decor. Once again, simple and inexpensive is the key to throwing your own party. This should be an enjoyable process, not one that will cause stress. Decide ahead of time your budget, time requirements, and how many people you are willing to host. If you aren’t sure, start small and in time, throwing a party will be as easy as 1-2-3.

Remember it’s not about the party, it’s about the people–Coming together with those you love. I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures from our little holiday party and I hope your holiday gatherings were as joyful and refreshing as ours was. Happy New Year!

Christmas at the Farm

When I first started working out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers, I assumed that the end of summer meant the end of workshops and pretty arrangements, luckily, I was mistaken. As if the pumpkin workshop wasn’t cool enough, come December, Linda holds a Christmas centerpiece workshop. The Christmas centerpieces are always beautiful with a variety of styles.

The centerpiece above is my attempt this year. I really like the touches of gold throughout it. Since we are heading home in 2 days (yay!), I decided not to waste my centerpiece on our empty home and gifted it to one of my favorite professors. I know, what a suck-up.

These centerpieces are very simple to make, all you need is a tray, a block of oasis, and lots of greenery. We soaked the oasis in water, cut it to fit the trays (if necessary), and started assembling.

Here are a few of the basics to assembling an oasis centerpiece:

Choose one type of greenery for your first row, my first one was pine, insert ends into the oasis at an angle. You want to cut all your greenery (for all three rows) 8-10 inches long, and space 1-2 inches apart. Row #2 will be up 1-2 inches and will align with the spaces so you won’t have gaps.

Depending on how full your branches are, each row should use about 12 branches total (that’s 4 on each side and 2 on the ends if your centerpiece is the size of a whole block of oasis).

Pick a different greenery for your second layer, I used cedar, and start going around the oasis 1-2 inches up from the first row. Follow the same principles as the first. Pick a third greenery for your top row (this is the top of your sides, not the top of your oasis).

Once the sides are covered, choose a more decorative greenery to start covering the top of your oasis, angling the outer branch slightly upward. I used brown tipped cedar, try to use a more decorative type of branch because this layer will be more visible.

Use any other greenery/shrub/leaf to fill in the top and any holes you may have. I like to go back and place a few magnolia leaves in various places throughout the layers–the shine make the centerpiece look fancy and helps the textures stand out. This is also when I went back through and added bits of yellow.

Now it’s time to add other decorative elements to the top of your centerpiece–dried fruit slices, whole apples, hydrangea, nuts, pine cones, candles. You can use pins, mini-stakes, or hot glue to hold everything in place. I used holly branches, a few slices of dried limes, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Remember to branch out and stretch your creative capacities. The decorating options with these centerpieces are limitless so take your time and enjoy showing off the final product to friends and family throughout the holiday season.

If you haven’t had a chance to join our site, please do so in the right hand column. Once we hit 50 people we will put everyone’s names into a drawing for a fun prize. Be sure to check out our facebook page as well. Merry Christmas!