One of the most daunting holidays to host is New Year’s Eve, for the pressure and expectation around celebrating the close of one year and beginning of the next. Between worrying about how much fun you’re having and who you’re going to kiss at midnight, décor is almost the easy part! Luna Bazaar contributor Amy Swift Crosby took on such a task for an early New Year’s fête, knowing that many local friends would be traveling to exotic locales for the day itself. Here’s what she had to say about all things Auld Lang Syne.
New Year’s Eve: The Event!
“I have always found New Year’s Eve to be a bit anticlimactic. Everyone has their own version of the ideal night – usually from movies! This makes hosting what should be a confetti-happy evening feel like the weight of the world. Knowing that many of us would be far away from each other on the 31st, I chose to collaborate on an early NYE party with my friend (and fellow Luna contributor) Jen Romans Dackert. We intentionally kept it small, inviting three couples to have an intimate gathering over candlelight, wine, and beautiful food so we could talk about the year gone by. I suggested everyone share a highlight of the past year and a hope for the New Year, which made conversation personal yet cozy. It was a big 2016, for so many reasons – some low-key reflection was in order. So I started there – a short guest list of people I love – with the mandate that they come in coat, tie, heel, and dress!”
“It’s fun to have friends dress formally for a night in. But for the concept to truly work – you’ll have to dress up your home as well! I chose dozens of mercury glass votives with turquoise blue candle holders and set them out along the mantel and in clusters around the house. Low light does wonders for a romantic, celebratory mood. It’s foolproof. I dimmed every light in the house and relied on the glow of candlelit mercury glass and punched tin candle lanterns to illuminate everything. Paper lanterns worked well in the foyer because we had the ceiling height to accommodate them. I love metallic party tassels for their shine and shimmer – so I used those to turn up the fun-factor. I invited everyone to choose a record to play in the first hour after all the guest arrived. People love vinyl – it allows them to reminisce in an unexpected way. The record player turned out to be a pinnacle of the party décor – a place of focus for people to gather around.”
“Champagne is a given on New Year’s Eve, and most people feature champagne flutes in their spread. But to spice it up a little, we used vintage inspired glassware with a champagne concoction during dinner, and then for our official toast, moved to the traditional flute. Guests yearn for transitions in the night to feel that a narrative is taking place. I intentionally started us off near the fireplace in the front room, and then moved to the dining room for the meal. It’s fun to feel led through the evening – as though someone has thought of everything. We did dessert in yet another room, festooned with an incredible hand embroidered table runner, and remained there – dancing and listening to pop music until it was almost midnight.”
Amy’s New Year’s Tips:
Decide if you want to go big or go small. Be intentional. Staying small means you get to set a table and talk – with plenty of time for dancing after dinner.
Take a tradition – like champagne – and have a little fun. I added Elderflower and a splash of peach juice to each embossed drinking glass for creative champagne cocktails.
Make a playlist that reflects what you want to do at a particular time of the party. We started with classic vinyl and then switched to an upbeat playlist for post-dinner revelry.
Create a meaningful activity – could be a white elephant gift or a suggested reflection. Guests like to rally around something to do!
The holidays are full of gatherings, and not just on the 24th and 25th. The season beckons family and friends to gather around tables, roaring fires and clinking glasses to revel in the magic that this time of year inspires. Artist, designer and Luna Bazaar contributor Jennifer Romans hosted such a beguiling dinner – set to metallic and unexpected pops of blue. This party goes to show that going beyond green and red is not only welcome – but also refreshingly different in the décor pantheon of Christmas! Here, she shares her approach to celebrating the holidays with all of it’s decorating escapades.
“December is truly one of the most social months of the year. Such a busy time means décor needs wow-factor as much as ease and efficiency. I approached this dinner party knowing that the day-of, I wouldn’t have a ton of time to set up my tablescape. To avoid rushing, I always pull all my candle holders, lanterns, runners, napkin rings, hanging paper lanterns and Christmas ornaments out of drawers and cabinets a week or so beforehand. Pre-producing as much as possible lets you see what you have, and what you’re missing, so you have time to find or replace it. December is no time for stress. You want to have fun and enjoy yourself, not worry about a missing tea light or wrinkled runner!”
“With little kids in the house, I have to be smart about where the décor lives while I’m organizing and setting the party stage. If not, I find that napkin holders become Barbie hats and mercury glass ends up in the bathtub. I solve this by fully decorating one key room – the main party venue – which, in this case, was my formal dining room. We only use it on special occasions, so my kids don’t even notice it when it’s decorated – and that means they don’t touch anything on the tabletop (which is the idea.) I take my time layering this room with just the right accents – selecting placeholders, assigning seats and writing out names – so that it really feels special when you walk in. Revealing the theme to guests is the best part, and you’re not a hot mess from working on it all day!”
“The holidays always put green and red at the center of the color story, but for me, they are a bit expected. Since blue is a consistent accent in my house and also the color of the dining room, I leaned on silver and blue as my core colors – to create reflection and glow. I painted my ceiling blue so that people would feel immersed in the color. Mercury glass candlesticks and adorable place card holders made the tablescape extra festive. I hung shimmering ornaments and paper snowflake decorations throughout the house just a few hours before guests arrived to add touches of holiday flare, then created clusters of votives to illuminate dark entryways and bathrooms. This inviting glow is low-maintenance, yet really high impact – plus everyone looks good in candlelight!”
The Food and Drink:
“With my weekend packed I opted to have the main course, one side dish, and a
fancy dessert catered by a local chef. I was then able to simply add a salad and appetizer to round out the missing pieces. I settled on plain porcelain china for the party since the décor was already so colorfully festive. For drinks, I served assorted wines with a small DIY bar set up in the kitchen. A pro-tip for hosting is to make it so folks can self-serve to some degree. Drinks, cocktail napkins and a light nibble should be easy for guests to find, reach and assemble on their own.”
Jen’s Tips: What host’s really want!
The traditional gift for your host is wine (which is lovely), but if you want to get creative, here are a few ideas to give your host something unexpected – or something they might use all year long.
1. Hill Tribe Handmade Table Runners – simply tie raffia or festive ribbon around the rolled-up runner – you won’t even have to wrap this hand-woven treasure!
2. You can bake or roast nuts or make chocolate bark (see my recipe below). Put in a mason jar for gifting – this presents beautifully.
3. Doilies – The small ones make for pretty little coasters you can wash! Wrap in tissue and pop them into a lovely gift bag. Easy peasy!
4. Napkin Rings – I love gifting these (especially the teal ones) with a simple ribbon wrapped through the holes and tied into a bow.
Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Bark:
3 bags Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
2c salted cocktail peanuts
2c salted roasted almonds
2c+ mini pretzel twists (GF if preferred)
– Line baking sheet with wax paper (or parchment paper)
– evenly distribute peanuts, almonds and pretzels to fill baking sheet
– slowly heat and melt chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until fully melted (you can fit glass bowl over boiling pot of water if you dont have a proper double boiler)
– pour chocolate over nut/pretzel mixture
– using a spatula, carefully spread chocolate to cover mixture and spread to the edges
– chill to set (approx 30m)
– once set, remove hard chocolate from baking sheet and peel off wax paper from backside. Using a shasrp knife and cutting board, cut chocolate into slightly larger than bite sized pieces.
– store in airtight container in refrigerator
The lighter side of darkness is a cozy, intimate feeling that fall and winter beg to celebrate, so we take any reason to illuminate our tables and fill every seat with friends and neighbors. Luna contributor Angelina Carrera hosted quite the gathering at Grassini Family Vineyards in Santa Barbara, CA this fall – featuring décor accents perfectly paired with our latest Rose Gold Collection that translate indoors or outdoors with equal splendor. Here, she shares her approach and inspiration to creating this spectacle of organic beauty!
Start with color:
“Autumn has a very rich color story filled with amber and dusty pink hues that mingle with accents of gold. We wanted our party to subtly draw from that gorgeous fall palette. We started by styling our gorgeous new Hurricane Vases with overflowing greenery and burgundy toned florals. Then, drawing from the rustic vineyard setting, we chose touches of rose gold to stitch together the warmth and inclusiveness that I aspired to achieve. I was delighted that the dahlias perfectly matched our red wine – unplanned, but seasonally on point, as it’s own reward.”
Then consider light:
“You always want more light than you think – so a smattering of mercury glass and vintage pink vessels filled with candlelight is what we used to achieve this glow on our table. Stay away from anything too tall for a gathering this casual. Height can work for weddings and other formal celebrations, but on a farm table or family gathering, it creates a barrier and distance between people.”
Choose an unexpected venue:
“We were at a vineyard, outside, under the canopy of four-hundred-year-old oak trees – so the romance factor was high! People love a surprising environment, something they might not think of themselves. I could see recreating this scene on a sun porch back East, with people bundled up in sweaters and a table set with beautiful runners to reflect the mood of the season. You’re essentially building a hearth in the area of your choice. It could be a big coffee table or a mantel and fireplace – a central focus that generates a magnetic draw for your guests.”
The food and drinks:
“We had a pretty easy win on the drinks since our friends at Grassini gifted us with a signature wine called Equipo, a red blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% Petit Verdot. Pairing the right food with the wines took a little more thought. Apples felt natural, so homemade apple pie was a must. From there I turned to Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, butternut squash… and cheese. Cheese for days! Everything felt hearty but healthy and of the earth. It’s important to be thoughtful about the season, to reach for what’s local and reliable, and to create interesting dressings or dips from there.”
“Prepare, design, decorate – and then let go! No one wants a stressed-out host. Buy plenty of tea lights – you will likely replace a few throughout your evening. Invite people you know well, and include new friends to mix it up. Make water and non-alcoholic drinks easy to access on a nearby table.