Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Tea Party Tablescape

Winter Tea Party- Circle of Friends
Party of 10

Once or twice a year, my high school and college friends get together to catch up during the Holiday Season. You know it's good company when even though we haven't seen each other for a while we seem to be able to pick things up from right where we left off.

For this Winter Tea Party's Tablescape, I'm recycling the décor of Christmas Tea Party Tablescape with a little  variation.  I want to feature my special Circle of Friends by emphasizing the Circles in the theme (ornaments, glasses, round tables, platters and food).  Also, I'm featuring the blue more to symbolize that it is a color that is considered "a constant in our lives" (just like these friends of mine). 
 Full circle. I want to bring out the design of the  silvery cone more in the centerpiece through various sizes of the opaque, silver and white ornament balls in and around the tabletop. 

 The table has been extended to accommodate a party of 10.  (See Christmas Tea Party Tablescape for a Party of 6)

 To add a little color around this silver theme, blue wine glasses were added as water glasses (for those who don't drink tea)

 My versatile cloth flower napkin holder is handmade (it could pass for a poinsettia flower).  To highlight the blue flowers, I created  sugar cookies shaped into flowers with blue icing - an edible version of a nametag!

I placed 3 clear, tiered servers at each end of the table for easy serving. Notice, the sandwiches are cut into varied shapes to differentiate them.

 To bring about the circular theme, I used two portable round tables and covered them in alternate colors of blue and white.  One is used for the  tea  and  the other for the food that won't fit on the main table: broccoli salad, sweet bread, jam and jellies, fruits and extra sandwiches.  

The silver tea set is from my husband's grandparents.  The two blue champagne glasses  hold alternative sugar selection for others who can't take regular sugar. 

 Lunch Menu: A Variety of Sandwiches
 My friends all have different food requirements.  Some are lactose intolerance, vegans, meat lovers and vegetarians. So, I tried to have a combination of food to make sure all have something to eat.
  • Cucumber sandwiches in buttermilk bread
  • Turkey and cranberry sandwiches  on sourdough bread
  • Cream cheese w/dates nuts on raisin bread
  • Ham & honey mustard sandwiches
  • Smoked turkey w/ raspberry mayo
  • Roast beef w/champagne dill mustard
  • Artichoke dip for cut up vegetables
  • Asparagus wrapped in bacon
  • Broccoli Fruit Salad
  • Ham and Tomato Pies  - for  the male guests who preferred a little heartier food

Ham and Tomato  Pie before baking

ready for baking  

 Sweet Rice Bread to accompany the Ham & Tomato Pie.

Homemade jams:  Strawberry jam, lemon curd, Orange peach jam

Peanut Butter Cookies
 Russian Tea Cookies
Cookies and Cream Fudge
Spiced Pumpkin Fudge
 Caramel Turtle Fudge Bar
Madeline Cookies (dipped in Chocolate w/coconuts)
Assorted Teas
The oversized wine glasses are filled with Cookies and Cream Fudge and Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

Dessert is served in the dining room area (where the Santa theme is more pronounced) after the games .

Russian Tea Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies 

Caramel Turtle Fudge Bar
Game Gift
As part of the party, I like to have a little game to liven up the party. We used the living room where the spirit of Christmas is in full bloom because of the Santa theme.
As a present for the game - a basket is filled with breakfast items: coffee mug, jam, hot cocoa, caramel cookies, a bag of coffee, ornament, a bag of cookies, and aromatic candles (not seen)

As the party starts to wind down, I give a parting gift of my special banana bread.  I also add a wrapped box of tea as an accompaniment.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Buffet Tablescape

It's that time of year where I feel so alive and festive!  Christmas is one of my favorite seasons where I love catching up with everyone.  I like having an open house for friends, neighbors and relatives where people can come in at any time and have an opportunity to catch up.  With this type of gathering, I like doing a buffet style of several appetizers and a couple of hot main meals.  For this Christmas Tablescape, I've chosen Santa and the poinsettia as the theme.

Along with my nativity collection, Santa is my one  constant décor during the holidays because he evokes good cheer and most of all the idea of giving.  But, I also wanted something different that would highlight the colors of the season, thus the poinsettia. 
 I've always been enthralled by poinsettia flowers and was even more fascinated when I found out the symbolism behind it.  For Christians, they are called the Flowers of the Holy Night.  It is said that the shape of the poinsettia flower are sometimes thought of as symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus, and the red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. But, in the  language of flowers, they symbolize good cheer and success, bringing wishes of mirth and celebration.

Since the table already has the dominant color of red, I wanted the food to show off more by having clear and silver platters, then draped a gold mesh to bring the gold out of the poinsettia. 

 Aggregate heights are important to show the different appetizers and makes for an interesting visual .

The centerpiece features the colors of Christmas.  The vases were embellished with poinsettia flowers. I put Santa on the side next to the utensils and I filled the sleigh with plastic candy ornaments, toy like items to show Santa's bounty.  I used red and gold stars (symbolizing the star of Bethlehem)  to break the flower pattern and to give it more texture.
 Santa on his own corner under a Christmas tree surrounded by Poinsettia
 To flow with the clear platters, I'm using wide-mouthed candlesticks as utensil holders and keep the poinsettia theme for this small table. The round boxes were hand painted in green and sparkler pens were used to design the flowers. 

Food labels for people who have special food requirements.  I used  seasonal photo holders for the labels.

Next to the buffet table is the dessert table.

This is that one time of the year where I like to use some of my old favorite seasonal dishes and candlesticks. The colors and design of the platters pulls together the theme of Santa and the greenery.

To create a visual break within the buffet table and the dessert table, I surrounded a small Christmas tree with Poinsettia instead of having it draped.


 As people leave, I give a parting present that matches the theme of my table - thus, a Santa acorn.

Happy Holidays! HO, HO , HO

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Law School Graduation in December

Joy, Joy, Joy!  A great celebration on top of the holiday season - passing the state bar exam after Thanksgiving gives a new meaning to a graduation celebration in December.  This Graduation Tablescape celebrates a special person for going through one of the most rigorous and rewarding challenges of an educational career. 

 Because it is a holiday season, but this is mostly a graduation celebration, I didn't want to use the standard colors of Christmas.  So I used blue and white color scheme instead for the male celebrant and accessorized with silver and gold for his high standards and (yet I'm still able to mix in some holiday accessories).
Dessert  Buffet Table

 An angel heralding his accomplishments, stars represent his accomplishments,  the gift boxes represent the joy of learning of passing the bar, and the cones represent the height of this achievement

A wreath was surrounded with symbolism of his academic accomplishment: His dream to be the best he can be, his high class standing, his Law Review contributions and the pride and joy of his parents and family. 

The table was accessorized in different heights to again symbolize achievement.

This picture shows the aggregate heights of the plates.

Wine glasses were used as a creative "sugar alternatives" container.

 Accessories surrounding the table highlight the blue and white theme.

 The blue and white theme is extended to the windows of the room. 

A small tree in the room was decorated with ornaments that shows the emotions of the moment.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Tea Party Tablescape - Party of 6

Christmas Tea Party
 for a Party of 6 Co-workers
Christmas - my favorite time of yearThe season brings out an energy of creativity and a sense of wonderment.  I love to bake and entertain this time of year.  I love creating an atmosphere that makes guests feel special and the house welcoming.
 When it comes to decorating, nowadays, non-conformity is the norm. Since my family room is decorated in dominant blue , I kept the blue theme minimal, extracted the white and highlighted it with more silver. However, I kept the main living room and dining room in the colors of Christmas: green and red.

My goal is to show that you can make something simple, affordable and yet elegant by recycling what you have around the house.   Most of the things I used for this tablescape I already have (an accumulation over the years).  If I don't have enough to meet the color scheme I create them or try to go to discount stores to buy accessories to enhance and complete the story. 
For the centerpiece, I like to decorate the table using varying heights and forms to tell a story, and thus, encourage a conversation. In this case, the angel (from my angel collection) arises from a bunch of poinsettia flowers(symbolizing purity) announcing the arrival of the season. It is surrounded by 3 glittery cones representing the 3 kings. The color blue of the candlestick represents royalty (as in Jesus King of Kings) lighting the way.
I went for anything with silver and highlighted the décor with a touch of blue.  The cones are made of silver beads and clear stones in all kinds of sizes glued to a heavy duty plastic cones.  The pinecones (from the backyard) were spray painted silver.

A small Christmas Tea Luncheon for a party of 6 has a sense of formality but the party itself is informal, thus the paper napkin.

Since the table is mainly white and silver, I added these blue and white floral paper napkins to enhance the blue candlesticks.   

Lunch Menu:  Variety of Sandwiches 
  • Shrimp Sandwich on sourdough bread 
  • Cucumber and Cream Cheese sandwich on buttermilk bread
  • Tuna Sandwich on rye bread
  • Sweet Rice bread with homemade jams of:  pineapple mango jam, strawberry jam and lemon custard
  • Strawberries with Caramel dip
  • Vegetable Quiche
  • Assorted Teas
The sandwiches are cut in different shapes: round, square and diamond to differentiate them.
Desserts (I made)
   Spiced Pumpkin Fudge
 Madeline Cookies  
Magic Bars

Cookie Exchange
I like having extra dessert, the more the merrier! (you can tell I have a sweet tooth)!  Christmas is also the time of year I enjoy tasting all kinds of cookies. So, I asked the gals to make at least a dozen cookies to share during dessert time. Dessert was served in the dining room buffet table where there's a lively Santa Theme.

The gals brought: peanut butter cookies, chocolate cracker bark and ginger bread cookies

My late mother loved baking all kinds of bread for her breakfast and afternoon snacks.  As a tribute to my mother who loved Christmas , I always make this favorite family recipe of Banana Bread to give to friends and neighbors during Christmas time.  

Banana Bread fresh from the oven.

I love giving  handmade ornaments that befits the person's personality or interest: a candy cane for the gal who loves sweets;  a calico ball  for the one who enjoys sewing; a snowman for the gal who collects snowman; a jack in the toybox for the gal who takes good care of her grandkids and the wreath for that one who brings us together with good cheer. 

 At the end of lunch, I provide a box to fill with their cookie loot!