In keeping with my efforts to not overcrowd my schedule this month, I ended up taking last week off from blogging to work on gift-shopping, cookie-baking, movie-watching, popcorn-munching, Christmas card-addressing, annnnnd finishing our last week of school! Woohoo!
As mentioned in my last post, this year we hosted a Christmas party for the families with Joel’s office. It was so much fun! All of it! Starting with all the preparations and lasting through the party with our guests, it was an exciting occasion.
I never really know how my tables will turn out. I start with an idea, but they seem to take a path of their own. I don’t mind that. It’s kind of fun to see where they wind up. For this party, I planned to use freshly trimmed Christmas tree branches as the base for my centerpieces. I thought they would lend a softness to the table with flickering candles scattered through them. Sounds pretty, right? I had the branches hosed off, dried, and shaken out, thinking they were prepped well enough for bringing them inside. But as I arranged them on the table, they continued to shed needles and drip sap. It was a mess. So out they went! On to Plab B–Paper Whites!
Paper Whites are my favorite winter flower! With their delicate blossoms and sweet aroma, they are a lift to the spirits on gray winter days. I had two of them and one poinsettia, so I wrapped the pots with brown snowflake paper and red ribbon. Joel had trimmed our holly bushes that week so I arranged sprigs of holly and those flickery candles around the paper whites.
I do not like tall centerpieces that guests cant see around, so I fully intended to remove the paper whites from the table while everyone was fixing their plates. In my hosting fog I forgot. When I later acknowledged my oversight to our friends, they all said they would have removed them themselves if it had been a problem. I love guests like that!
The poinsettia went on the kitchen table. The “Let It Snow” napkins I purchased just for the color, never imagining that we would actually end up with snow on the night of our party! What a fun surprise for us Southerners!
More glowy candles throughout the house. I once purchased boxes and boxes of clear votive candles for a benefit dinner, knowing I would get plenty of ongoing use out of them with my parties at home. They are an inexpensive way to warm up a room, so I use them frequently.
And speaking of inexpensive, the dollar aisles are my first go-to for any holiday. Below, the “Merry Christmas” sign, the gold candle votive, and the Christmas coasters were all from dollar aisles.
As you’ve seen me do before, for large groups, I try to have an appetizer out in the den for guests to snack on while I finish up in the kitchen.
I knew we had several coffee-drinkers coming so I set up the coffee bar.
The girls used these cute little selfie props for a Christmas party last year and I saved them. I didn’t necessarily intend to use them at this party but just thought it would make a cute decoration for the whole Christmas season. We have the girls from our Bible study group coming for a party this week so I’m sure they’ll put those to use.
Remember in my last post that I said I would cut out any uneccesary preparations that would bring stress? Well, the front porch and back patio got the boot from my list early in the day. About an hour before everyone arrived, Madeline asked what she could do to help and I told her she could arrange the outdoor candles, wreaths, and garlands however she liked.
I think she did a spectacular job. Very enchanting, Madeline!
Lo and behold, minutes before everyone arrived, there was the SNOW!
At that point I released the kids from their duties and let them go out and play. Down here, we have to get it while the gettin’s good!
It was so sweet to go outside and hear all the children of the neighborhood, up and down our street, cheering and squealing in delight! Our poor little Southern kids don’t get this pleasure too often. It was a most exciting occurance to have our guests arrive with snow–that it a first for me!
Back inside, I had wassail simmering on the stove. Given the forecast, my mom texted me the morning of the party and said, “It’s going to be cold tonight. Be sure and have some wassail ready for your guests”. For as long as I can remember, my mom has served wassail to her arriving guests during the winter holidays. It really hits the spot when coming in out of the cold! At the last minute I had to move the wassail off the stove because that was where I was placing dishes that came out of the oven. So I poured the wasssail into some teapots and placed them at our doggie corner, out of the way of the cooking action. The girls and I love setting out a few doggie Christmas trinkets each year, and our little (pretend) furry friends welcomed our guests eagerly and warmly.
I set up desserts on the island: Red Velvet Cheesecake, Italian Cream Cake, Almond Fudge, and Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies.
I did not get a photo of the buffet but here’s a sneak preview of the meal that was served. Recipes to come in my next post!
Now that’s a full plate!
With several new friends joining us, I wasn’t sure how they would feel with their photos being posted here, so I’m not including those. But, as always, the people are the best part of any party! We enjoyed great conversation, a meaningful devotional, and a hilarious game.
I hated to see the night end and our guests depart, but the forecast said that the snow would start back up around ten o’clock that evening, and you know us Southerners and snow! We consider a quarter inch to be a blizzard.
After cleanup and getting everyone settled for bed, sure enough, just about ten o’clock, the snow made a SECOND appearance. It. Was. Beautiful. The girls were still up and I had promised Wilton I’d wake him up if it started to snow again. So I did.
When everyone was finally in bed for the night, I couldn’t resist one more look out the window. I went to the dining room and peaked out the blinds. It was so peaceful. It brought new meaning to the song phrase “All is calm, all is bright”. I turned away from the frosty window, catching this view of my den that had only a couple hours before been filled with lively laughter. I love the calm and stillness after a gathering. Not because I want everyone gone, but for the quiet reflection of the joy that was shared that evening.
Hope you’re all enjoying festive celebrations along with quiet moments this holiday season.