Haute Holiday

_mg_1573When is a holiday party more than a holiday party? When it’s also a gorgeous mini-wreath-making workshop! Fresh and fragrant cedar, wispy eucalyptus, pods, and real succulents make these holiday wreaths a cut above the rest, and they are fun to make. To prove the point, I invited girlfriends to join me at the Party Crush Studio in Kirkland for a little Wreath Making 101 course. When it came to decorating the studio, I skipped tradition and went with an unexpected color combo of cool whites and blues. And a girl’s gotta eat and sip, so this haute holiday gathering also included posh glasses of Champagne, bowls of haute cocoa with chili pepper and star anise, and steamy mugs of roasted cauliflower and cheddar soup. Short on time? No worries. This holiday party is festive and fast to pull together. So grab your clippers and come with us to our holiday party and workshop!

_mg_1523_extendHaute Holiday Decor

It’s a whiteout! Instead of red and green, I’m going for a white Christmas with hints of blue and gray. The icy blues and shades of cool white make for an ethereal winter party scene. Pull together loose arrangements of aromatic greenery, eucalyptus, and white roses to set a scene reminiscent of a snow globe brought to life.

Fawn la la la la 

Add a playful, gold-dipped glittery deer to the mix! I decorated the deer by bleaching pine cones, hanging them from cream velvet ribbon, and adding fresh eucalyptus greenery.

DIY Floral Container

This vase is made from a poster board sleeve, fashioned into a bottomless cylinder with a little glue gun action. I trimmed the top and bottom with inexpensive black ribbon and added a velvet ribbon handle and a pretty printable craft store label.

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup with White Chocolate

_mg_1496This creamy, savory soup has a hint of sweet. And you can make it in under an hour. I topped it with sliced scallions and toasted juniper berries, and served it in big white mugs!

  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
  • 2 shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, sealed in a foil pouch with tops removed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Splash of sherry
  • 2 tablespoons white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons juniper berries, toasted in a dry pan
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions
  1. On a baking sheet, drizzle the cauliflower, shallots, and garlic with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and white pepper and chopped fresh thyme.
  2. Roast in a 375-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes until the vegetables, shallots, and garlic have softened and begun to caramelize.
  3. While the cauliflower roasts, place 4 cups of unsalted organic chicken stock in a soup pan and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat a bit.
  4. Once done, add the roasted veggies and shallots to the soup pan. Squeeze out the creamy roasted garlic and pop it into the pan as well, along with a good splash of sherry. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and, using a hand blender, puree the ingredients directly in the pan.
  6. Add the shredded white cheddar cheese and the white chocolate. Simmer, stirring frequently for a few minutes until melted. If desired, for a thinner consistency, add a bit more chicken stock.
  7. Garnish with sliced scallions and toasted juniper berries.

_mg_1458Winter Gift Baskets

I tricked out these inexpensive craft store baskets with a white wash of spray paint, a flannel fabric lining, and fur cuff. Filled with cocoa ingredients and a no-sew fleece lap blanket, they make great guest takeaways. Tiny white lights add holiday magic!

Holiday Wreath-Making 101 

If I’m making a beautiful holiday wreath, I want it to last. That’s why I’m a fan of wet foam wreaths. You can add water throughout the season to keep it fresher longer.

  • A wet foam wreath (I used a 15-inch one)
  • Plenty of sprigs of fresh cedar cut into 6- to 8-inch pieces and plunged into a water-filled bucket
  • 6 to 8 Nigella pods
  • Eucalyptus cut into 6- to 8-inch pieces
  • 4-inch potted succulent
  1. Soak the wet foam wreath in water for 20 minutes, then tip it up in a sink to drain enough so that itís not dripping on your work surface.
  2. Working in a clockwise direction, add sprigs of fresh cedar, one at a time, starting at the outer base of the wet foam. Create an entire circular rotation of greenery.
  3. Start adding the next layer of cedar in the same manner. As you work your way to the top of the wreath, occasionally layer in sprigs of eucalyptus and pods.
  4. You can make your wreath as airy or dense as you like, but when you are done, the wet foam should be fully covered.
  5. Add ribbon and hang. A few times a week, pull down the wreath and add a bit of fresh water to the foam. Allow the wreath to drain before rehanging.

_mg_1517Haute Cocoa with Star Anise and Chili Pepper 

This isn’t your mama’s hot cocoa. Star anise and chili peppers give this rich cocoa concoction a yummy kick! Add glam gold straws and peppermint sticks for some serious holiday appeal. The ingredients below make one cup of cocoa.

  • 3 ounces dark semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 star anise seed pod
  • 1 dried chili pepper
  • Splash of good vanilla

In a pan, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the chopped chocolate, star anise, dried chili pepper, and vanilla. Simmer and whisk as the chocolate melts away and the flavors combine. Strain out the chili and star anise. Pour hot cocoa into simple white bowls and dress up with gold straws and peppermint sticks.

Just a Wallflower

These white polyresin wall pockets are actually meant to hold bath vanity pieces, but I filled them with white roses and fragrant greenery.

_mg_1568Champagne Reimagined

I always like to kick off holiday gatherings with Champagne. It just says celebration. Thereís nothing like a few embellishments to take your holiday Champagne cocktails to the next level. Fresh pomegranate seeds and sprigs of garden rosemary combine for one glorious glass of holiday bubbles!

Get the Look

Deer collection from Haley’s Cottage in Kirkland. Blue china bowl from Oscar and Company in Kirkland. Studio rustic candles from Rendezvous Soy Candles. Craft materials from Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames in Redmond. Labels and basket from Michaels Craft Stores. Basket fabric from Circa 15 Fabric Studio in Kirkland. Wall pockets from The Container Store in Bellevue. Ingredients from Metropolitan Market in Kirkland. Hair by SEVEN the Salon, Senior Stylist Chu.

See Monica Hart’s design, recipe, and entertaining ideas in every issue of 425 magazine, and on her website at lafamigliadesignllc.com.

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