Host a sumptuous + stylish spread for friends this winter with our tips for keeping it chic and simple.
Winter is synonymous with comfort food – stodgy carbs, hearty cassoulets and meaty mains… But it IS possible to do winter entertaining on the chic. And without maxing out your preparation time.
Set the scene
Candelabras introduce classical elegance and lend your evening a fairytale lilt, but tealights glowing in upcycled mason jars come with their own vintage appeal. Decorate jars with lace and coloured paint for homely shabby-chic allure.
See our post on mason jar lighting for some inspiration.
To cloth or not to cloth
Indulging in a little table decoration takes your entertaining up a notch, transforming a meal with mates into a stylish soiree.
Cloth-ing your table is the first step. (Or not cloth-ing it, as the case may be.) A simple cream or crisp white tablecloth works a treat for a more finished look. Linen or lace adds old world charm and textured appeal.
If you’re opting for mason jar candlelight and a touch of lace, an antique-style table runner like the Marie French Linen Table Runner continues this theme.
Ask yourself, are you going for rustic sophistication or textbook chic? If you have an upcycled timber dining table, show it off. We love this distressed wood table traced with foliage and fleurs.
A statement centrepiece takes your table into gourmet mag territory. This doesn’t have to be time-consuming. We like the idea of getting all the prep done WELL in advance. This way you get to enjoy your guest’s company instead of rushing around like a headless chicken.
Selecting blossoms that have some staying power means you can arrange them the day before. Australian wildflowers meet this description. Plus they introduce unique character to your table with their surprising colour pops and sculptural shapes.
We adore the bold yellow of Billy Buttons, the majesty of King Proteas and Blushing Bride Proteas, and the charismatic shapes of green leucadendron. (These Australian wildflowers are all available in the wintry months.)
Pique your posy with some lavender, ornamental kale or cabbage, and succulents for decadent shape. Or some goddess lilies – because who can resist such a divine name!
L: Barber & Osgerby Olio collection for Royal Doulton, Amigos De Hoy Metal Dipped Serving Board and Small Spoon, and Casa Uno Marble and Slate Boards. R: Gordon Ramsay by Royal Doulton Bread Street collection. Browse tableware online at Zanui.
So your servingware doesn’t suit your dinner set? Investing in some feature pieces fusing organic materials like marble, wood and metal injects pastoral charm and delicious textures into your dinner spread.
L: Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton Olio 16-Piece Dinner Set. R: Barber & Osgerby Olio collection for Royal Doulton, Olio Wood Round Serving Platter 30cm, Amigos De Hoy Metal Dipped Serving Spoon, and Amalfi Marble Cube Candle Holder (Set of 3). Browse tableware online at Zanui.
Spicy sips to fire up the eve
Say cheers to the arrival of your guests with something signature and spicy on the tongue. We love this Chipotle-Chile-Spiced Margarita recipe. Or opt for your very own homemade spiced pear vodka infused with cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger and pear. Yum! (This one is do-ahead… Suggested infusion 5-14 days.)
These are destined to wake up their appetites. Flavourful and fancy served in sleek cocktail glasses.
Belly pleasers that are easy on the eye
In keeping with our desire to appear the hostess with the mostest with minimal effort, we’re championing this mouth-watering Chicken Enchilada Soup for starters. It’s the perfect partner for your spicy margaritas.
Like something a little more traditional? Try this Slow-cooker White Bean, Kale and Sausage Soup. With 10 mins on the prep and 3 hours to savour some R&R whilst it cooks, it’s speaking our language!
Centre: Gordon Ramsay by Royal Doulton Bread Street collection. Left: Whole Roasted Ricotta with Honeyed Figs (image sourced: jamieoliver.com) and Apple and Custard Tarts (image sourced: donna hay.com). Browse tableware online at Zanui.
Centre: Barber & Osgerby Olio collection for Royal Doulton, Olio Wood Round Serving Platter 30cm, and Amigos De Hoy Metal Dipped Serving Spoon. Left: Heidi! (image sourced: divinecaroline.com) and Winter Julep (image sourced: imbibe.com). Browse tableware online at Zanui.
Sneaky snifters to finish
With the temperature turning chilly, a toasty digestif gifts your guests with a delicious belly burn set to protect them from the wily weather. We’re drawn to our friend Heidi, marrying the magic of a piping-hot hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps, or this Winter Julep for the brazen warmth of bourbon.
And of course, there’s always tea and coffee. =)
Too, too tempting. We’re drawing up our guest list as we speak.