One of my favorite ways to throw my signature Imperfect Perfect parties is to make my friends and their recipes or talents part of the evening’s entertainment.
On November 13th, Fox’s online magazine asked me to throw the Ultimate Holiday-At-Home Party and at the same time make it fun, delicious and, most importantly,affordable. As my friends, family and loved ones can attest, I’ve always loved entertaining, so I designed my house to be the perfect spot for doing just that. You, too, can make your house inviting by organizing your party into stations – the way I did for Fox.com. I chose to design this particular get-together around five main areas of focus: DECOR, FOOD, DRINK, DESSERT AND MOODS.I invited five friends, five main areas or “stations” where something exciting was happening and then invited everyone else to be the party!STATION 1- THE DECOR AND TOTALLY MEMORABLE EDIBLE GILDED, FRUIT A FEAST FOR THE EYES.Silver is the hot color this year and my friend Lillian Heard of Lillian Heard Studio showed host Amber Milt and I how to gild a pear with edible confectioners’ gilt paper and build a very cool tabletop design.I also used the contrast of hot orange and red flowers and cool, yet inexpensive placemats to contrast with the pears, clear and silver vases and candles. Sprigs of juniper pine on each plate made the house smell amazing.STATION 2 – THE FOOD COMFORTING, JUST-THE-RIGHT-SIZED PORTIONS WITH A TWIST. Bob Spiegel of Creative Edge Parties showed how to dress up best-loved comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and meatloaf in small beautiful dishes from Pearl River to make a luxurious presentation.Turkey Meatloaf Recipe1 medium onion chopped3 ribs celery chopped1 each green pepper chopped3 Cloves garlic minced2 T Butter1 T Salt2 t Black Pepper2 t Paprika1 t dry mustard2 C Heavy Cream2 lbs. ground turkey1/2 c. bread crumbs3 eggsSaute onion, celery, pepper, and garlic in the butter until soft. Add Salt, pepper, paprika and mustard, cook for 2 minutes. Add cream, reduce by half on high heat. Chill mixture. Add Turkey, bread crumbs and eggs. Fill into oiled 1 pound tins, bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.You can present vegetables such as brussel sprouts in a whole new way using leaves (which tasted so tangy and made a delicious counterpart to the wholesome, familiar flavors of the comfort food). An unexpected garnish with cranberry sauce-right from the can!- but cut with a cookie cutter into stars- was a fun conversation starter and felt special with having to cost a fortune.STATION 3 – DRINK, CHOCOLATE SANGRIA.Amazing!My friend Ryan Bromz, whom I invited to play the clarinet for the party (more on this later), also has the BEST recipe for sangria.Chocolate Sangria Recipe1 Bottle of red wine8 oz Pineapple juice8 oz Ginger Ale 8 oz Sprite or 7 Up7 oz Godiva Liqueur5 oz Creme de Coco (dark)1 and ½ oz Frangelico2½ oz Chambord2½ oz Brandy1 container Raspberries (leave them whole)1 container Blackberries (leave them whole)The tree in the snow ice bucket is from Michael Aram, a designer of accent pieces which I used all around the house for silvery touches.STATION 4 – DESSERT, FAMILIAR TINY SWEET WITH A TWISTKeeping with the theme of small and personalized comfort foods, Gail Dosik of One Tough Cookie made miniature snowflake ice cream sandwiches and made them gorgeous with luster dust. The cookies on their own stood out because they were handmade, and when Gail put two cookies together as an ice cream sandwich it was divine. (Cardio, next day – “A MUST.”)STATION 5 – MOODS, LAYERED MUSIC.Asking a friend or hiring a musician to play live over a pre-selected soundtrack on iTunes expands the experience and creates truly surround-sound experience. My friend Ryan Bromz played the clarinet wonderfully for this evening. Craigslist is always an excellent source for finding amazing musicians in a pinch. My flat screen is hooked up to my computer so guests can check out what song is playing. I have a visualizer called G-Force set up that creates images, so that even the TV becomes a part of the decor. So, make it all easy and fun for yourself. Pick five main areas to plan to perfection (with a little help from your friends) and the rest is the imperfect and spontaneous fun of your own Ultimate Perfect Imperfect Holiday-At-Home Party. To see the video go to www.fncimag.com. Click on Holiday Survival Guide and then Throw A Party.