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From the Desk of Dixie

Citrus Inspired Holiday Brunch

Funny how bright, bursting citrus is actually in season during the holidays. Guess that explains Father Christmas bringing oranges to children in historical fiction. The wonderful thing about winter citrus is that it provides us with a bright spot (and a welcome freshness on the palate) in the midst of what can often be heavy winter food. This year, we are loving these bright invites from Vaughan Spanjer. We defy anyone to have winter blues with these beauties in their bag!

Lighter recipes make us think of brunch, and what’s more festive than a mid-day holiday get-together? Less pressure than a cocktail party, more leeway with the menu (think fun savory bites, but also decadent sweets in miniature), and everyone can still make it to their nighttime engagements. We’re sold. Here are just a few of our tips for a festive holiday brunch. Please share your ideas in the comments, we’d love to hear!

 

  • Make a simple menu. While we love to go nuts while entertaining, simplicity is often underrated. Do you make a killer strata? Have a priceless French toast recipe? Make that the centerpiece, and then “accessorize” around it with fresh fruit, high quality coffee, an assortment of breakfast meats, and a signature cocktail. Brunch cocktails are a wonderful world to explore. Here are a few that we like.
  • Go savory. Brunch doesn’t have to be sweet. Maybe it’s a Spanish tortilla that feeds your crowd (we recommend these: so simple, but so impressive), but fluffed up by a basket of sweet rolls, a plate of cheeses, and an assortment of toasts and jams.
  • Lagniappe. This term that means “a little something extra” is just meant for brunch. Especially a festive brunch. Set your table with gorgeous Champagne coupes decorated with charms; let guests take them home as party favors. Add a sprig of rosemary to place cards to make your guests feel at home. Bag elegant shortbread for guests to take home; put them in a little basket on your foyer table. We could go on, but we’re sure you have ideas of your own.
  • Try a mother-daughter brunch. This writer has fond memories of holiday Junior League teas in Atlanta. I dressed in my finery, my American Girl doll dressed in her finery, and we convened on someone’s home for what I thought was the epitome of elegance. What little girl doesn’t like tea sandwiches and delicate cookies? The holidays are a great time to take existing bonds and making them even stronger.
  • Potluck! Maybe it’s sacrilege, but consider providing a drinks cart and, say, one savory staple and one sweet. Invite guests to bring their favorite brunch dish. For added fun, have everyone come in their pajamas. It’ll be like the best sleepover you never had. But with delicious food. And Champagne!

 

Holiday Style with Shop Buru


When the holidays roll around, does your every day wardrobe all of a sudden seem kind of dull?  For us, we want red, sparkles, fur and gold on everything! Thankfully, our fashionable friend, Morgan, at Shop Buru pulled together the perfect party outfits, each inspired by one of our invitations.

 
1 // Headband   2 // Gold Fuzzy Cardigan   3 // Staffordshire Dog Gold Invitation  
4 // Sparkle Lace Up Flat    5 // Turtleneck   6 // Tulle Skirt   7 // Gucci Signature Mini Bag

1 // Shoes   2 // Caroline Blouse   3 // Twinkle Clutch   4 // Pineapple Invitation  
5 // Rosie Red Maxi Skirt   6 // Earrings

1 // Santa Scottie Invitation   2 // Gold Moto Jacket   3 // Boyfriend Jean .  4 // Pom Pom Beanie   5 // Mini Backpack   6 // Embellished T-Shirt   7 // Sneakers



1 // Forest's Edge Invitation   2 // Liz Sweater .  3 // Bracelet .  4 // Love Bag 
5 // Booties   6 // Tights   7 // Lorien Skirt

Holiday Entertaining Tips with Sarah Tucker

Hi I am Sarah Tucker! I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my husband and our two sons in an old colonial home. Celebrations both large and small are my favorite.

This year we are hosting a big Christmas party for JB's clients in a couple of weeks. I've been having fun decorating, searching for ideas, and coming up with a theme. And of course being conscientious of the less fun things about parties -- a budget and logistics. Together, with Dixie Design, I am sharing some holiday entertaining tips. I'm far from an expert but I do learn something from every party we host. And those lessons learned are what I'm sharing with you here.  

1. Pick a theme! This Christmas (and always!), I love blues, ginger jars, toile, and crests. So when I saw this blue toile crest invitation from Dixie Design, I fell even more in love with Dixie Design. It's nice to have this beautiful invitation in the back of my mind so while I'm decorating I can create a cohesive look.

2. Repurpose what you already have. I screen shotted their ginger jar mantle card to my sister and best friends and said HOW CUTE IS THIS?! I am planning on dressing up my ginger jars just like this for the party. Sometimes the perfect way to decorate is with what you already have laying around, just add a bow or some fresh clippings.

3. Cheese boards make great appetizers. I've been doing this for years, and it's always a hit. One roll of $1 kraft paper found at the dollar store, a white chalkboard marker to mark the different kinds of cheese, olives, and crackers make a cute and more importantly, delicious, start to the party. Plus, clean up couldn't be easier!

4. As Kate Spade says, Making others feel at ease is the essence of etiquette, yesterday and today. This is always in the back of my mind while hosting parties. Every party can be saved as long as you make your guests feel welcomed and comfortable. A sincere smile goes a long way! I also would add that I try to make many items self serve so that my guests are in control. That way the most I have to do during the party is pop a bottle of champagne, or grab more crackers, and I can get back to enjoying my guests. Some people are cooks, and while I love to cook for my family, for crowds it takes my stress down to have it catered. I find that if you're eating and enjoying, your guests are more likely to as well.

5. Flowers go a long way, but don't have to break the bank. I buy a ton of $3.99 bunches of assorted Eucalyptus at Trader Joe's and sprinkle it everywhere along with votives. It makes my home smell amazing and creates a romantic look.

I hope a few of these tips help you out while you plan your gatherings this Holiday season! Merry Christmas!

Festive and Fun Fall Entertaining

Caught between the joys of late summer and the frenzy of the holidays, fall is one of the loveliest times of the year. Trees blaze out in glory, our football teams are winning, and it’s just cool enough for some stylish layering. So why don’t we think outside the tailgate more, and throw together some fall fun? We’re loving this invitation for fall inspiration. What could be more fun than a fall feast? A time to gather with friends before the whirlwind of the holidays sets in. We have a few ideas for autumn entertaining; leave any more ideas you might have in the comments!

  • Take it outside. If the weather is holding to a pleasant chill (one of the best things about the South is our temperate climate), feast al fresco with friends. Provide lots of blankets and cozy places to sit, and we recommend having a warm cocktail option (rum-spiked cider, anyone?) on hand to keep things extra festive. Keep a big batch of cider warm in your slow cooker, and guests can add booze and cinnamon sticks to their liking. This way, little ones can enjoy the cider, too.
  • Get a fire pit. This is an extension of the “take it outside” idea, but a fire pit can bring fall gatherings to a new level. We love this customizable one. It can also keep the chill off when nights start to turn a little too cool. Bonus: marshmallow roasting! If you’ve got a fire pit, s’mores are suddenly on the menu.
  • Try a chili cook-off! Fall is perfect chili and stew weather, and what’s more fun (and easier to freeze for later meals) than a big pot of chili and a whole mess of toppings. Have guests bring their favorite recipe and garnishes, then set everything out and taste. You can give friendly awards, but mostly, the fun is just trying a bunch of different options–and going home with lots of them to get you through those busy fall nights.
  • Cocktail supper. We’re big fans of the cocktail supper here at Dixie Design. Plenty of simple cocktails, and rich, little bites that make for an elegant supper without the formality of a sit down dinner. A well-stocked bar cart is certainly helpful in this case, and a few of these pretty little appetizers can turn into a satisfying meal.
  • Theme dinner party. The fall is a fun time to experiment with a theme and we love the idea of a harvest-themed feast. Think about it: the farmer’s markets are flush with squash, cool weather greens, and all manner of yummy produce. Try a menu themed around, say, pumpkins! There are dozens of sweet and savory ways to use the season’s unofficial mascot. Head over to Pinterest for loads of fun fall ideas.

Engagement Party Tips

Before the hoopla of the wedding planning, before deciding where to register, before looking for The Dress, stop and take a minute to celebrate: you’re engaged! Whether you’re throwing the bash for yourself or for loved ones, we’ve got loads of wonderful engagement party invites to set the tone. Since it’s still summer, we’re crushing on these flower-themed invites for a bright way to announce the good news.

Once you’ve got the invites sorted, think about an al fresco party. One good way to lower your stress level is with a well-stocked bar cart. If it’s too hot and humid (and it may be too hot and humid, we are, after all, in the South!), then move the party indoors. A bar cart is still a great idea to have for cocktail hour, as it allows guests to serve themselves, cutting down on stress for the host. You’ll want to decide whether your bash is a cocktail party or a sit-down dinner. There are lots of decisions to make, so we’ve rounded up some tips for the perfect (stress-free!) engagement party.

  • Who Hosts?: While it is traditional for the bride’s family to host the engagement party, these days, with friends and family all over the globe, it can be difficult to coordinate. Friends may offer to throw the party. The couple may like to host the party themselves. The main thing is: don’t get too caught up in the formalities. While we are more traditional down here in the South than in many other places, the bottom line is, you just want to gather loved ones and have a good time.
  • Timing: Host the party soon after the engagement, in order to ensure great attendance–wait too long and you will eventually have seen all of the people in your respective circles. A great party can really draw a line under such a happy occasion, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity.
  • Sit-Down Dinner or Cocktail Supper?: This is mostly a numbers game. It’s perfectly easy to host a posh cocktail supper or a super-casual sit-down dinner, so don’t let the formality level dictate what type of gathering you give. Think about how many people you can accommodate comfortably in the space you have. Also consider the crowd: what will work best for those invited? If your respective circles aren’t familiar with one another, the free movement that a cocktail party affords guests might be a better idea than a sit-down dinner, where people are more stationary.
  • Gifts: This can be a tricky subject. We like Emily Post’s advice - if you don’t want people to bring gifts, discreetly spread the word. If people do bring gifts, then by all means display them on a pretty table. And we like these note cards for casual thank yous–the matching print will remind the giver of the great engagement party.
  • Document It!: We’re in the “pics or it didn’t happen” generation now. While in the past, cute favors might have been disposable cameras, we recommend perhaps a custom hashtag for the party, so guests can see each others’ Insta snaps and share accordingly.
  • Decor: Don’t stress over this. We like the idea of lots of bright blooms, to match the theme set by the invitations. Zinnias, gerbera daisies, and greenery can have a huge impact, especially when scattered around a room or venue in small, varied vessels–the less they match, the better! Think old glass bottles, Mason jars, and bud vases. Similarly, the right lighting can set the ambience. We love these beauties from Restoration Hardware.

Cocktails on the Veranda: Styling Your Bar Cart

 We love summer for its long, golden afternoons and the “magic hour” at dusk. Here in the South, that means busting out the seersucker, spotting for fireflies, and, of course, cocktails on the veranda. An outdoor cocktail hour is a great way to accommodate a lot of people without the fuss of a formal dinner. We’re crushing on these chic invitations to set the tone of the gathering.

The easiest way to entertain outdoors is with a properly stocked and styled bar cart. This will prevent you from having to run inside and out to keep glasses full and guests happy. More than just a practical consideration, a chic bar cart–and its contents–can help set the mood. So, in keeping with the citrusy, light invitations, we’ve got a few ideas.

  • Pineapples have long been a symbol of hospitality in the South. What’s more chic and Southern than these adorable monogrammed cocktail napkins?
  • Guests will need something to sip their cocktails out of, naturally, so keep it playful but not kitschy with these soigné brass pineapple tumblers. You could also bust out your copper Moscow Mule mugs or vintage champagne coupes for added variety.
  • Pre-cut lemons and limes so you or your guests can mix up a drink with minimal fuss. Get creative with your vessels. We love this porcelain monkey for a playful touch.
  • Make sure to include a fresh element, whether it’s summer roses or simply palm fronds clipped from the yard. Have a marble wine chiller you aren’t using? Repurpose it to hold pretty pink roses. Bright green palm fronds pop gorgeously from small blue and white ginger jars.
  • Naturally, you’ll need to remember the booze. We recommend keeping a good vodka, gin, and bourbon on hand. If you want to expand, white tequila is gorgeous to mix with in the summer. (We love these pretty pink palomas.) Provide white wine and rosé for those guests who don’t want a mixed drink or cocktail.
  • Keep mixers and other beverages cool in a chic metal tub on the bottom level of your cart. Beyond the usual tonic and seltzer, provide grapefruit juice (for those palomas!), Champagne, and–secret weapon alert–watermelon juice. Simply pop watermelon slices in a blender and then strain into a pretty glass bottle. Guests will love the summer mixer, which goes well with gin or vodka.
  • If your bar cart gets overcrowded, a cheeky garden stool is a fun way to add more storage. Perhaps top it with a cake stand, mounded with savory snacks–we love tea sandwiches for something like this, but there’s nothing more Southern than the ever popular ham biscuit.

Once you’ve got your bar cart ready, stocked, and styled, finish off your outside space with more flowers or palms. Light a few citronella candles, bust out all of the Sunbrella cushions you have, and get ready to relax with friends and enjoy the golden hour.

via The Glitter Guide

via The Pink Clutch

via Carrie Bradshaw Lied

via Style Souffle

via Pure Joy Home

via Brit + Co

via The Pink Clutch