the elements : holiday entertaining

in my opinion, an intimate cocktail party is the best way to bring friends together and celebrate the holidays. whether its a small gathering or a festive blow out, the holidays are a great excuse to bring out your fancy clothes and exercise your entertaining skills. in planning an event, there are a number of crucial steps to make the night a success. i'm obsessed with details and spare none in my planning process. i always start with a hand printed invite (snail mail - no evites or facebook). this helps to set the tone for the evening and gives a chic and sophisticated feel to the party. it's best to give your guests ample time to save the date, three weeks prior to the party is safe. once your invites are signed sealed and delivered it's time to prepare the menu. with a smaller gathering (eight guests or less), an elegant seated dinner is a great way to keep everyone engaged. with a larger guest list, hors d'oevres, wine and a signature cocktail (i'm using a pomegranate sparking elderflower this year) is just the right mix. in the past i've baked mini pastries but this year am opting for a cute spin on candy jars for guests to graze as they mingle. the music will set the mood for the evening. i tend to start off with something soft (steering clear of holiday songs) to allow guests to settle in and transition to more upbeat songs as the night progresses (and the drinks flow). the decor is clearly important and i've found it works best to stay relatively simple and stick to one color palate. often i will use poured cocktails as the initial tablescape decor making it easy for guests to help themselves. with enough pre-planning, a special event can come together effortlessly allowing just enough cheer to brighten the evening. enjoy.

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