Dec 21, 2016

Create Dinner No. 3: Deck the Halls

I love everything about December, even the craziness that comes along with it. The onslaught of holiday parties that you get to dress up for, Christmas music, snow (well, in Los Angeles it’s fake flurries), taking the time to find the perfect present for everyone on my list, festive comfort food - and cookies – definitely cookies.

I love everything about December, even the craziness that comes along with it. The onslaught of holiday parties that you get to dress up for, Christmas music, snow (well, in Los Angeles it’s fake flurries), taking the time to find the perfect present for everyone on my list, festive comfort food – and cookies – definitely cookies. For the third edition of our creative collaboration dinner party we decided to put a holiday spin on things, but without going too over the top. The décor was along the lines of trendy après ski chic – sheepskin draped over the chairs and benches, a long wooden table, gold candleholders and delicate light colored flower centerpieces. This dinner definitely put me into the holiday spirit.

One of the best parts of our “Create Dinners” is that the hosting duties of throwing a party don’t fall on one individual. Instead each person pitches in and contributes something that they can also be proud of. (Announcement: we now have a fancy website for our dinners! Check it out here and if you are interested you can sign up for our next event.)

merry and bright

The key to the food part of any party is prepping as much as you can in advance. Since the venue for our dinners is always located some distance away from where I am actually prepping the food, I try to make as much as I can ahead of time and then just reheat it when I get there. It makes it easier and much more efficient time-wise. For this dinner we moved to a new location; a beautiful home in Santa Monica, which I appreciated because it was a lot closer to my house and made transporting the food easy.

The guests arrived and Instagram photos were taken while we still had daylight (photos are always best with natural light), and then we moved to our DIY craft presentation. We sat around and learned how to construct small wreaths made with branches tied together with berries and twine all while sipping on our craft cocktails and snacking on baked Brie and charcuterie.

kylie holding chicken

table spread

After the crafting was complete we moved to the dinner table and took our seats. Each place setting was complete with a name card and printed menu. I have said it before and I will say it again, I always love seeing my food and recipes printed on pristine menus. I also enjoy dinner parties that have name cards because I find it helps you to branch out and talk to new people, perfect for occasions such as this. We try to keep the guest list to 12-16 people. I believe this is the ideal number of people for a larger seated dinner party such as this because you can talk to your seat companions while also enabling the whole table to have a conversation.

The hardest part about cooking for a large group of people is figuring out how much food you need so that no one goes hungry but not so much that there are a huge amount amount of leftovers. Since our dinner was right after Thanksgiving I figured most people were a bit sick of eating turkey. Instead I made dry brined herb roast whole chicken as our entrée. A good rule of thumb when cooking roast chicken is to designate about half a pound per person. Then I typically add an extra pound on top of my estimate just to be safe – it’s always nice to have leftovers if it comes down to it. The butternut squash, quinoa and kale salad I made as a side is one of my new favorites for events such as these. You can dress the salad ahead of time and the kale is tough enough that it won’t wilt before serving.

flower and table arrangement

holding salad bowl

As we moved on to our dessert of apple cider donuts, we were graced by a performance of acoustic Christmas tunes and storytelling. Surrounded by laughter, music and food under twinkly lights, it was the perfect ending for the perfect night. As usual Kate made sure everything ran smoothly and paid attention to even the smallest details. Another successful dinner party in the books.

Check out my menu for the party below along with the recipes to inspire you and make your own holiday dinner a success. You can also check out our guest list and all of their various talents below.

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Menu for Dinner No. 3

Appetizer

Baked Brie with Raspberry Jam Served with Assorted Charcuterie and Crackers

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Entrée & Sides

Herb Brined Roast Chicken

Balsamic Sriracha Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Butternut Squash, Quinoa and Kale Salad with Warm Goat Cheese & Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes

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Dessert

Apple Cider Donuts

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Cocktail

Wassail Rosemary Buck

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