Events that sparkled with holiday cheer, with tips on how to make your own parties merry and bright
By Sara Perez Webber
Glamorous Holiday Soirée
Atlanta-based Legendary Events created a glamorous December dinner party for 48 guests at Flourish, Legendary Events’ special events facility in the Buckhead neighborhood (flourishatlanta.com). Guests dined at a continuous mirrored estate table underneath a 90-foot canopy, adorned with 15,000 red roses, and 12,000 crystals and ornaments. The tablescape was no less stunning, with 400 red amaryllises and hundreds of white tapered candles.
Guests dined on a first course of seared Maine sea scallops with sunchoke raviolis, radish and pea shoot salad, and lemon butter, paired with a Chablis 1er Cru by Christian Moreau. The second course featured a salad of roasted baby beets, honeycomb, whipped ricotta, sunflower seed tuile, beet reductions and mache, paired with a brut rosé by Billecart-Salmon. The entree course was composed of a grilled wagyu strip loin, braised beef and potato croquette, herb Parmesan-crusted bone marrow, celeriac puree and black truffle jus, paired with Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee 2013. Guests finished the meal with a dessert course of an individual croquembouche tree made with Grand Marnier dark chocolate profiteroles, Baileys white chocolate peppermint profiteroles, bourbon pumpkin profiteroles and egg nog profiteroles, covered in white-spun sugar and edible glitter, served with miniature chocolate presents. The dessert was paired with Nivole Moscato d’Asti.
Getting in the Spirit
A key thing to remember is it’s never too early to start planning for your holiday party, no matter how large or small the guest count. You’ll want to be as relaxed as possible during your event; nobody enjoys a stressed-out host.
— Tony Conway, founder and CEO of Legendary Events
Festival of Lights Bat Mitzvah
Catering by Seasons
Catering by Seasons, based in College Park, Md., catered a December bat mitzvah for 50 adults and 35 teens that celebrated the traditions of Hanukkah at the same time. “The décor revolved around silver and blue, with lots and lots of lights for this Festival of Lights Bat Mitzvah,” says Glynis Keith, senior event manager at Catering by Seasons. “Escort cards were attached to tulle bags with silver chocolate coins and mini dreidels, and pinned on a large silver frame.” The event planner was Plan to Party, with décor by Fox Ventures, and the event took place at the VisArts Center in Rockville, Md.
The holiday theme extended to the food as well. “The menu included fun twists on traditional Hanukkah comfort foods, like sweet potato latkes with maple crème fraîche and pomegranate braised short rib tacos,” says Keith. “At the end of the evening, guests were treated to mini donut holes stuffed with jelly, a favorite Hanukkah dessert.”
Getting in the Spirit
Creating a successful holiday event is about evoking old memories and creating new ones at the same time. Décor, lighting and music all contribute to successful holiday events, but food is what brings people together. I like to include standard holiday foods but with an unexpected twist, like serving traditional potato latkes with sour cream next to spinach and feta latkes with a roasted tomato jam.
— Glynis Keith, senior event manager at Catering by Seasons
Catering the Festival of Trees
Arthur’s Creative Events & Catering
Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based Arthur’s Creative Events & Catering caters an annual event at the Orlando Museum of Art that’s brimming with holiday cheer. The Festival of Trees fundraising gala showcases Christmas trees, custom hand-designed wreaths, table décor, gingerbread villages and more for purchase, all created by Orlando designers, with proceeds benefitting the museum. A classic gold color scheme for the tables complemented the traditional holiday look, with notable features including gold antiqued brass candlesticks, white Christmas string lights, and manzanita trees embellished with ornaments serving as centerpieces.
For the 450 guests, including 100 VIPs, Arthur’s served a buffet with a tenderloin carving station, ancient grain pilaf, and roasted broccoli and carrots. The plated meal included petite filet mignon, crispy leeks with a cabernet demi-glace, maple-glazed grilled sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli and glazed carrots. A table brimming with holiday desserts featured cookies, lime thyme tarts, chocolate pot de crème, red velvet dessert shots, passion fruit clouds and French macarons.
Getting in the Spirit
The elements that contribute to a successful holiday event are seasonally influenced and festively presented menu items. Ingredients like maple, ginger, peppermint and cinnamon all evoke the primary tastes of the season. Decorating cuisine displays with ornaments and evergreens presents your menu in a festive way that emphasizes the holiday season.
Another imperative element of a successful holiday event is a set-up that lends itself to guest networking. Company holiday parties and social gatherings are great opportunities for mixing and mingling. Promote interaction with an intimate floorplan that incorporates cocktail tables.
— Hayli Westhelle, event designer at Arthur’s Creative Events & Catering