I can’t believe how quickly the year has past. Transitioning to food styling full-time has definitely kept me busy. Other highlights have included making new friends, spending more time with family and focusing heavily on my health, so I can live a longer and happier life with the ones I love. To celebrate a great 2016 and welcome what I know will be an even better year, I want to leave you with some tips I often use to host a smashing New Year’s Eve party.
Create warmth. Because New Year’s Eve is about staying up late to countdown the final seconds of the year, I like to create a more intimate setting. Candles are a great way to achieve this. It warms a space and puts people at ease. Pair it with jazz music or if you prefer more upbeat tunes, might I suggest a bit of Bruno Mars? His music, as well as other artists with the same vibe, is quite cheerful, without it feeling like a rave.
Integrate layers and dimension. A perfect tablescape creates interest with different heights, textures and subtle pops of color. Think about layering your plates and linens, housing foods in different vessels with varying heights and incorporating something unexpected. For me, my unexpected item was a “table runner” made of fluffy moss. It worked well with the organic theme of the evening and kept the decor from looking flat. Terrariums, candles and succulents were other components that completed the look.
Alternate pieces. Regardless of what you may have heard, everything does not have to match perfectly. When I don’t have enough dinnerware to complete each place setting, but insist on using specific pieces like the silver ornate plates above, I like to alternate similar sized plates so it looks more intentional. No one will ever know the difference.
Pick an easy menu. For an occasion like New Year’s Eve, people love to snack. Make it feel like dinner by setting a table for everyone to be seated. Having guests seated together encourages festive conversation among all. For your menu, choose finger foods. Think hummus and pita as well as charcuterie and cheese. My choice of cheeses for this gathering included goat cheese balls rolled in sesame seeds and chopped parsley and baked brie topped with sweetened blackberries. For a more upscale meal, select gourmet crackers or make it easier by filling a bowl with artisan bread.
Serve dessert immediately. Well, kind of. I like to use food as part of my place settings. Brilliant, right?! Have dessert prepped and sitting snuggly atop a plate for each person ahead of time, so you’ll have one less dish to serve. As a result, there will be more time to enjoy your party and guests will be excited for their post-meal treat. If you need an easy, but fancy dessert, try my Pistachio and Cardamom Buns that are topped with an orange vanilla glaze.
Serve a signature cocktail. Every party needs a delicious cocktail that’s made especially for the occasion. Think about what your guests like most and craft a beverage with that in mind. My gathering of friends love ice cream, so I dreamt up a Sea Salt Caramel White Russian Float. It’s a bit indulgent, but perfect for ending the year with a happy belly. If you’re looking for something lighter, I have a Root and Vine Midnight that will totally satisfy.
Photos courtesy of Jessica Downey Photo