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! 


Pomegranate Punch

Egg Salad

Curry Chicken

Pea, Fava Bean and Burrata Dip

Party Popcorn

Rediscovered Flatware. A remix.

It's almost Thanksgiving, which is hands down my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving dinner is often one of the few times a year where people dust off their best dishware and flatware. Below is my argument for why you should be using your best everyday and specifically, why you should use silverplate flatware to spruce up your table. 

Yes, my newest obsession is vintage silverplate flatware. Confession, I still have Ikea dishware and flatware. Not a big deal, completely serviceable and practical. But I did imagine by my 30s I would have upgraded from my dorm days at Cal. I know, #firstworldproblems. I have been slowly replacing my Ikea dishware when I have some extra spending money. But Ikea flatware has been a constant companion of mine for too long. 

After using and admiring some vintage silverplate flatware at my most recent Airbnb stay, I decided I wanted a set of my own!  Silverplate flatware is really beautiful, the patina and detail can't be found in anything new.  I knew I could not afford a sterling silver flatware set which runs into the thousands. I was happy to locate and purchase an affordable vintage silverplate flatware set for our everyday and special occasion use. I was looking for a "Z" monogram for our family's surname. Do you have any idea how hard a "Z" monogram is to find for a vintage item?! Almost impossible. So when I found a set that seemed like a fair price, I bid quickly and won. Below is the before photo as posted by the seller. 

As you can see the set looks to be in fairly rough condition. I was keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that once I received it, some elbow grease and a lot of silver polish would help bring this set back to life. It turned out well, I think.

So pretty right? It took a lot of time and effort. I understand now why Downton Abbey had a staff to polish their silver. I think vintage flatware is such a great way to mix old and new into your everyday or special occasion table setting.  Vintage dishware is often very fragile and not dishwasher friendly. It's also difficult to find vintage dishware in mint condition. In contrast, you can still find vintage flatware in very good condition that still has many years left. 

With any room I do, I like to make sure there is a mix of old and new because the tension between the two creates something beautiful. The same holds true for the table. Vintage flatware looks beautiful in contrast to very modern West Elm dishware. See below. 

I know it's difficult to convey the patina of the vintage flatware through photos so I did a side by side comparison. Below is a photo of a vintage silverplated soup spoon adjacent to a stainless steel one. 

The luster of the vintage soup spoon is undeniable and I promise you it's even prettier in person! If you're not into the idea of purchasing an entire set, consider purchasing a couple of pieces and slowly building. You'll end up with the chicest collection of mismatched pieces. Or if you know someone who loves things with a bit of history, this would be the most perfect gift. 

For some very good girlfriends, I picked up a couple of vintage silverplated soup spoons with matching vintage French soup bowls. I can't wait to give it to them.

You use your flatware everyday all day. Upgrade if you also have Ikea flatware hidden in your cutlery drawer! It's the small things in your day that can add up to make it from an average to a great day. Trust me, these gorgeous silverplate flatware pieces will put a smile on your face as you eat your morning cereal. It's been said that using silverplate flatware daily prevents tarnish. Another excuse to`use your best pieces everyday!