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By Design: Entertaining in 2020

Entertaining in 2020

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Entertaining in 2020

Illustration by Rachel Joanis

Intimate affairs are the new normal this season, as we all seek the warmth of home and the company of those near and dear to us. With safety still being top of mind, this entertaining trend promises to be about appreciation and a little indulgence. If you can’t treat 25 of your friends to a fun party, why not treat your social bubble or those in your immediate household to a truly fabulous, intimate event?

When it comes to hosting a great soiree, there are three key elements to consider: Consumables (food and drinks), entertainment, and last but certainly not least, ambience. As a designer, ambience naturally tops my list, as the overall look and feel of the space will lay the groundwork for the evening ahead. Here are some style layering tips to help set the mood in your home for an intimate soiree.

Furniture

Yes, you can and should move furniture for your event. While this is a common go-to strategy to accommodate large groups of people, a small gathering can also benefit from some strategic furniture placement. There’s nothing more awkward than people “floating” aimlessly in the room, and furniture placement allows you to usher guests into certain areas of the home. This may include an appetizer table in the kitchen, a beverage station in the den, a music/media area for audio and video requests, and areas throughout for guests to chat and chill.

Evaluate your space and take note of fixed focal points such as a fireplace or window with a great view. Now, create furniture vignettes around these, with facing chairs or couches, and some small tables throughout for guests to rest their drinks and dishes. Leave enough room between vignettes to allow the flow of traffic. Pay special attention to hot spots such as buffet tables or appetizer areas.

Regardless of the size of your soiree, ensure you have sufficient seating to accommodate every guest. You can always borrow a few pieces, or consider investing in some staples such as poufs, ottomans or a small accent chair. These will come in handy for your gathering and will help fill in those empty corners after your guests have all gone home.

Layers of lighting

The right lighting can make or break your party. Create a sense of warmth in your space by dimming the overhead lighting and layering in some table and floor lamps. Light up dark corners, and make every room sparkle with simple strings of white lights, mirrors and reflective materials, and the flicker of real candles – under supervision, of course.

Details matter

Just because your gathering may be small in size, doesn’t mean it should fall short in any way. Kick it up a notch by paying attention to the fine details. As I always say, there’s no detail too small, and collectively it’s the little things that will make all the difference. Whenever possible, personalize it – nametags on your guests’ wine glasses, place cards at the dinner table, and a parting gift “just for them” will ensure your guests feel appreciated.

Entertaining will look a little different this coming holiday season, and while we’re still getting used to this new normal, we’re yearning to reestablish those warm, close connections with our inner circle. With some thoughtful planning and creative solutions, your intimate gathering is sure to be a huge hit.

Kate Davidson, is the Founder and Principal Designer of Kate + Co Design.

For more than a decade, the multidisciplinary interior design firm has been providing complete residential and commercial design services throughout North America. Kate + Co is known for creating luxurious liveable interiors.

@kateandcodesigninct


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A Merry Drink for the Holidays

A Merry Drink for the Holidays

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A Merry Drink for the Holidays

Whether mocktail or cocktail, these beverages will add pizzazz to your holiday entertaining.

(NC) Sangria is often relegated to summertime patios, but this make-ahead pitcher drink is equally perfect for winter entertaining. Sweet, tart pomegranate juice and warm winter spices add festive flavour and de-alcoholized red wine makes this a great non-alcoholic option.

“Spruce up this mocktail with sprigs of basil or fresh mint for an extra pop of colour and freshness,” suggests Michelle Pennock, executive chef for the President’s Choice Test Kitchen. “These small touches add bright tasting notes that get your guests’ senses tingling and set the stage for your event.”

Non-Alcoholic Spiced Sangria

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cool time: 2 hours
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each ground allspice and ground cloves
  • Pinch (0.5 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 navel orange (peel on), thinly sliced into rounds
  • Half lemon (peel on), thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) PC Red De-Alcoholized Wine with Natural Flavour, chilled
  • 2 cups (500 mL) 100% pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pulp-free orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) frozen pomegranate arils

Directions:

Bring sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and 1 cup water to a boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate syrup until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Stir together orange, lemon, 1 cup wine, pomegranate juice, orange juice and ¼ cup syrup in 3L (12 cup) pitcher. Cover and refrigerate one hour or up to 12 hours. Stir in frozen pomegranate arils and remaining wine. Divide among wine glasses filled with ice.

Chef’s tip: You’ll make more of the spiced syrup than you need for one batch of this sangria. Refrigerate the remaining syrup in an airtight container or jar for up to one month and use in your favourite cocktails and mocktails, or as a dressing for fruit salad.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 100, fat 0 g, sodium 10 mg, carbohydrate 24 g, fibre 1 g, sugars 20 g, protein 1 g.

A holiday mule to warm up your guests

This extra-festive twist on a Moscow mule is sure to spice up your holiday party. Flavoured with the zing of ginger beer, notes of caramel and vanilla from bourbon, and balanced by the sweetness of apple cider, it strikes a perfect balance. “To make your drink look as good as it tastes, try garnishing with accents such as crystallized ginger,” suggests Pennock. “This small step brings the drink to the next level.”

Maple Bourbon Cider Mule

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) honeycrisp sweet apple cider
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) bourbon (1 oz)
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) ginger beer
  • 1 slice crystallized ginger (optional)

Directions:

Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, maple syrup and lime juice. Cover and shake vigorously 15 to 20 seconds.

Strain into stemless red wine glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Thread crystallized ginger onto wooden cocktail skewer (if using); place in glass. Chef’s tip: Leave out the bourbon for a non-alcoholic version.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 220, fat 0 g, sodium 10 mg, carbohydrates 39 g, fibre 0 g, sugars 36 g, protein 0 g.

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