A Dusting of Holiday Whimsy

Have yourself a whimsical little Christmas, where butterflies flutter above the tabletops and fresh flowers bloom on flocked trees. Whether you’re hosting a Christmas gathering or ringing in the new year, here are some simple yet beautiful entertaining decor and menu ideas you can pull together — even the night before!

 

Ultimate Holiday Cheese Board

Cheese Board

Your guests will want to dig into this swanky little holiday cheese board. It includes great hunks of soft and hard cheeses; small bowls of marinated mushrooms, olives, cornichons, caviar, dried cranberries and apricots; candied nuts; quince paste; rainbow carrots; tomatoes; cucumbers; and an assortment of breads and crackers. Garnish with nice bunches of fresh basil and halved pomegranates.

 

Mini Cheese Pizzas with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

Mini Pizzas

Feel free to experiment with the toppings!

  • Store-bought pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Basil
  • Lemon zest

Roll out store-bought, fresh pizza dough. Using a round 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out the mini pizzas. Re-roll the extra dough. Place pizzas on a pizza pan, lightly greased with olive oil. Brush the mini pizzas with a bit of olive oil, top with torn bits of fresh mozzarella, torn fresh basil, and lemon zest. Bake in 475-degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.

 

Holiday Decor

Holiday Shimmer and Shine

This holiday scene is all about the mix of glitzy ornaments and organic beauty. And, just for the record, you can never have too many mini white lights.

 

Colors

Switch Up the Colors

I like the idea of fresh florals in unexpected places, and jewel tones showcased against light backdrops. The result is holiday magic.

 

Tree

Make it Floral

Tuck fresh blooms into your tree shortly before guests arrive. Flowers will stay fresh out of water for several hours.

 

Lights

Twinkle, Twinkle

Create more magic by suspending a few vertical light strands above the holiday bar, then add fanciful butterfly ornaments.

 

gold

Mix it Up

Add a mix of vintage gold ornaments, modern starbursts, and fresh flower blooms to large glass candle holders, tucking in mini white lights wherever you can.

 

Help Yourself Holiday Champagne Bar

Nothing says holiday festivity quite like a Champagne bar with lots of extras. Set out a glassware tray complete with sparkling sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Invite guests to rim their Champagne flutes. Offer a second tray filled with seasonal garnishes like pomegranate seeds, fresh raspberries, cranberries, cherries, and citrus curls.

 

Endive Veggie Salad Spears with Sweet and Sour Dressing

veggies

(Makes approximately 20 endive spears)

I’m loving these simple salad spears filled with roasted beets and fennel, topped with crunchy matchstick carrots, crumbled blue cheese, and fresh dill. This appetizer is especially pretty fanned out on a platter that is encircled with fresh greenery.

  • 3 Belgian endive heads, spears separated
  • 2 beets, peeled 
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • Fresh dill and thyme
  • Salt
  • Olive oil  
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Quarter the beets, and place in a foil pouch. Sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme and then drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Seal the pouch and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until fork tender. Slice into 1-inch sticks.
  2. Core and slice the fennel bulb. Place slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast alongside the beets for approximately 20 minutes until tender. Slice into 1-inch pieces.
  3. To assemble the salad, place a few pieces of the beets, fennel, and carrots onto an endive spear. Sprinkle lightly with crumbled blue cheese, torn fresh dill, and salt. Arrange on a platter, and serve alongside sweet and sour dressing (see recipe).

Sweet & Sour Dressing:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

In a stovetop pan, combine the first six ingredients. Bring to a boil until the mixture thickens. Turn heat to medium low. Combine the cornstarch and water to form a paste. Whisk into the hot mixture until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Throwback Holiday Cheese Balls

cheese ball

  • 1/3 cup grated or crumbled cheese
  • 1 package softened cream cheese
  • Fresh chopped herbs
  • Chopped dried fruit
  • Fresh zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped nuts
  1. With a hand beater, combine your favorite grated or crumbled cheese and a brick of softened cream cheese. Add a few snips of fresh herbs, chopped dried fruit and/or fresh zest, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Drop the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Twist the plastic, forming the cheese mixture into a ball. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Just before serving, roll the cheese ball in fresh chopped herbs or chopped nuts, and serve.

 

Petite Chocolate and Cinnamon Bundt Cakes

cakes

Topped with whiskey whipped cream and raspberries, these mini cakes look a lot like Santa hats.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 11/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour mini Bundt cake pan well.
  2. To a saucepan, add the butter, water, and cocoa powder. Melt and whisk on medium low heat. Pull from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugars, flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. In two batches, whisk the dry ingredients into the cocoa batter. Whisk together the creme fraiche, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the cocoa batter, and whisk well.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared mini Bundt molds, and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
  5. Top with whiskey whipped cream (see recipe) and fresh raspberries.

Whiskey Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey

Beat together the ingredients, and dollop onto the Bundt cakes.

 

decorative ice

Chill the Champagne on Decorative Ice

Create a fresh floral ice ring using a gelatin mold. Place a handful of edible flowers in the bottom of the mold, and add just enough water to cover the blooms, then freeze. Once the first layer is frozen, fill the mold with additional ice-cold water, and freeze. Release the ice ring by dipping the bottom of the mold in warm water.

 

 

 

 


Credits: Poinsettias, amaryllis, mini trees, and butterfly ornaments from Molbak’s. Linens, starburst ornaments, and Champagne flutes from Crate & Barrel at The Bellevue Collection. Recipe ingredients from Metropolitan Market.

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