A Holiday Punch Party!

I'm perhaps a bit late with the plethora of holiday decor suggestions and party ideas already out there. But I propose that this post is a bit different than what is already out there - some quick tips below on how to update your existing holiday decor with a few inexpensive additions and how to throw a mostly make ahead holiday party. 

Although I love decorating for the holidays, I try not to purchase new items unless it's for something meaningful and timeless. The holidays come only once a year, and I don't have the storage space to accumulate a ton of things. And frankly, I would prefer to save money for gifts!  

I have a good foundation of ornaments and table decor that are mostly white, gold and silver, a base of neutral metallics that I've accumulated over the years. See below! 

Everything on the tree and the stockings are things I've collected gradually through the years. The $5 garland allows me to create a mantle on our mantleless fireplace. Thanks to Morgan for taking a break from her nap, sort of, to pose for this photo. 

A creative way to update your existing holiday inventory? Add some colored ribbon! Seriously. I love all our holiday items, but I like to change it up a bit each year and I've found a $12 investment in some ribbon spools can help make your things feel fresh and new. This year, I chose black ribbon accents. I wanted something a bit more modern and unexpected.  I love how it turned out, especially on our staircase.  

All I did was get a wider black grosgrain ribbon and tied it with a striped black/white ribbon atop a green garland, creating this beautiful yet simple bannister decor. If you scroll below, I also carried accents of black onto to the tablescape using slate serving platters. I'm already thinking about what accent colors I will be bringing in next year.  

We also hosted a holiday party this year which was incredibly fun. Hosting 40 people is no easy feat. I'm the first to acknowledge that I often get caught up in making sure that everything is perfect that I don't talk to my guests as much as I would like. So this time, I tried to make almost everything beforehand, which worked out so well! This allowed me to catch up with friends instead of tending to the table and bar, well most of the time at least.  See below for photos and recipes! 

Yes, that's a huge bowl of punch. I wanted to serve a drink that was fizzy, pretty and delicious, this punch did all of that and more. It is the holidays and for the holidays, it's always nice to have something special and unexpected. 

I know, that's an enormous container of popcorn. I have to thank my sister for making it for me. It's difficult to see in the photo but the popcorn has sprinkles on it! Amazing. It also had white chocolate drizzled on it which elevated popcorn to new levels.  

We also had egg salad and curry chicken mini sandwiches. Since we weren't serving dinner, I wanted to make sure we had more substantial food items to set a good base for all that punch! The egg salad and chicken salad we made the day prior, and stuffed them right before the party. Also pictured above is a pea, fava bean, and burrata spread. If you're averse to vegetables, this dish will change your mind. Promise. 

There is no party unless there is a cheese plate, charcuterie and olives in our house! And for dessert...

A tower of donuts! Those may look like normal donut holes, but they are hidden bites of sheer joy.  I'm on the fancy donut bandwagon, no doubt. We went to this donut store in Oakland at around 9 am on a Saturday morning to pick some up for the party, and they had already sold out on many of their options!  Since I do everything but bake, this was a great option to fill out the sweet end of the table. 

This was the beautiful photo of our bar, and I'm glad I took photo before it got a little crazy.  Not pictured is the keg, which I insisted on keeping outside. Yes we had a keg, my high/low philosophy doesn't stop at design although admittedly the keg was full of fancy IPA for our fancy California beer palates.

Almost everything on our table was made the day before and assembled right before the guests arrived. It was hectic just before people started arriving, but I'm so glad I did almost everything beforehand which allowed me to spend time with our guests! If you're holding a last minute holiday gathering or any party really, I highly recommend the small bites we served, so you can make everything ahead of time and enjoy your own party. 

Our home was bursting at the seams in the best way possible. Happy Holidays! 

Recipes:

Pomegranate Punch

Egg Salad

Curry Chicken

Pea, Fava Bean and Burrata Dip

Party Popcorn

An Utterly Fantastic Holiday Surprise (Part 1)

This past November I decided to mastermind a surprise birthday party for my husband.  I patted myself on the back. I was one upped BIG TIME. One of my closest friend's husband decided to surprise his wife by fully furnishing their new home without her knowledge, and he hired me to implement this crazy plan!!! Whaa.....????? Yup. Totally true.  

This couple just had a newborn baby and this client knew that furnishing and making a new home in another state would be just a touch too much to handle for his lovely but sleep deprived wife. So he hired me to surprise the heck out of her by presenting her with a move-in-ready home right before the holidays.  And before you say it, I know, decorating 101, you should live in a space and slowly furnish things over time.  But you know what? Sometimes life doesn't work that way.  Sometimes life moves quickly, you have a new job, you have to furnish a new home, AND you have a new born.  I was happy to take on this project to help ease any stresses due to all these wonderful life changes. 

To accommodate some career changes, this couple would now be splitting their time between their home in Southern California and Las Vegas.   As they were going to maintain their California home, they would not be moving a single stick of furniture into this gigantic Las Vegas home.  Not only that, they needed everything, from trashcans, cookware, Tupperware, pantry items, etc.  You get the point, I can only imagine how I looked filling over four carts at Target. Have you ever tried buying bathroom accessories for 4 bathrooms at one time?! 

He asked me if I thought I could accomplish it, and I said, sure no problem.  The challenges?  To name a few: a house in another state; a 4,000 square foot house; a 2 month deadline; unpacking and organizing all of their things so it would be move in ready; starting from scratch as they were not bringing any furniture with them; reading the mind of the actual client, his wife, in terms of style and interior design.  It was a daunting task. Truly.  When I went for a site visit after I was hired, I realized how big the challenge was.  Living in the Bay Area for so long, even large homes in SF paled in comparison to this newly constructed 4,000 square foot home.  It was huge, and I knew I needed large scale furniture to furnish this home.  

I actually pulled it off! I needed a week to recover but I'm so excited to share this project, it's absolutely amazing. Due to the number of rooms that I furnished, I'll share the living room, dining room, entryway and office for now.  On to the fun stuff.  

The living room and dining room before. A sad, unfurnished empty house.  It's yelling "please furnish me"

In new homes, open concept living spaces dominate.  On the one hand, that's great, because open spaces in a home allow family members to do a vast number of different activities while still sharing their time together in one large space.  But open concept living can be difficult to style and furnish.  All the different spaces that serve different purposes should remain cohesive, and that can be a significant challenge.  Here, there were three areas: living room, dining room and entryway, all in one large space.  To keep the spaces cohesive,  I kept things classically neutral.  

Here is the absolutely fabulous new dining room.  Most dining rooms center around a rectangular dining table but this space was perfect for the most elegant circular dining table.  And I'm always a fan of keeping this casual, but knowing these clients, I knew that an upscale, more formal dining area would be perfect for them.  Below is the fully furnished formal living room. 

I never have the opportunity to use large scale furniture when working in the Bay Area so I went a little nuts here.  The chairs?  You can literally curl up and read in that chair and feel like you're on a cloud.  And its the perfect neutral gray brown to tie in with the rest of the furniture in the room. Here is another vantage point below. 

I never have the opportunity to use large scale furniture when working in the Bay Area so I went a little nuts here.  The chairs?  You can literally curl up and read in that chair and feel like you're on a cloud.  And its the perfect neutral gray brown to tie in with the rest of the furniture in the room. Here is another vantage point below. 

So I was able to get 95% of the furniture delivered on time.  Sadly, the living room couch was delayed and you can see the empty space under the wall art.  Did I pester the client, also a sleep-deprived new dad, to take a photo for me after the sofa arrived? Yes, I did. And I'm eternally grateful to him. The neutral linen couch is the perfect piece to complete the living room set. Having two different but complementary upholstered furniture pieces makes it feel like you just didn't purchase a set off the showroom floor but that pieces were purchased and arranged in a thoughtful and curated manner. I can imagine many very sophisticated adult conversations occurring in this sitting area. 

On to the adjacent  entryway area, it shared a space with the living and dining room. 

 I knew I wanted to make a large impact and take advantage of the very tall and majestic ceilings.  And that's what I did. 

 I knew I wanted to make a large impact and take advantage of the very tall and majestic ceilings.  And that's what I did. 

Mission accomplished! Oddly, the entryway doesn't receive a lot of natural light.  As a solution, I hung two huge mirrors to bounce around light that actually came through the windows. The beautiful entryway table is the perfect scale for such a large space and a great place for mail, keys, baby gear, etc.  For accessories, I tried to stay classic and neutral so the clients wouldn't feel the need to change anything out.  It's hard to truly appreciate the size of this entry table so I took a photo with me in it so that you can see the scale of the furniture.  It's really one of my favorite spaces in the house.  

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Entryways are often overlooked in most homes but they are so important.  They set the tone of the rest of your home for your guests, and this entryway clearly says, welcome to this fabulous and sophisticated home! 

Last but not least, the home office.  The client wanted it to make it special for his wife. Knowing that she loves the color pink, I tried to infuse the office with all different shades of pink, but in a subtle way.  Here is the before. 

It's a plain, beige room.  I knew it also had to double as a guest room so I ordered a sofa sleeper to provide additional seating for when it was used as an office and could double as a bedroom when necessary. 


And here is the after!

Perfection.   The client wife is a high powered attorney.  She is one of the smartest people I know and I absolutely love that she is confident enough to fully embrace her femininity which includes her love for the color pink.  I added touches of pink through the storage boxes and wall art.  I wanted the room to remain flexible for them so that they could easily change it into a guest room full time if necessary.  The upholstered gray desk chair is comfortable and the perfect home office chair. The office is clean, fun and holds all the necessary work tools but isn't cluttered which is the balance you're aiming for in a home office.  

I was lucky enough to be there when she walked in, she was absolutely and utterly shocked to walk into a fully-furnished home when she expected to be met with an empty house full of moving boxes.  It was the most amazing surprise ever, such a special moment.  I loved it. Did we cry?! Of course!  And lucky for me, she loved everything! 

Stay tuned for before and afters for the rest of this house in the upcoming weeks! I pinky swear it's going to be just as amazing and worth your time.