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What's Up Magazine

Oh, What a Night

Nov 17, 2014 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds
Achieving the Quintessential Holiday Party

Photography by Alexander Morozov

Seeing is believing and if there ever was a blueprint for hosting a successful holiday party, we have it in local event design guru Sarah Campbell’s own festive and formal celebration that took place in her Denton home last season. Campbell’s design smarts hit a home run for this party, which, in her own words, was intended to be “an adult evening of elegance and traditional holiday grandeur, while in the intimate setting of our home.”

From the home’s entrance to the table settings, interior décor, and even the tree, the overarching approach was to decorate in layers. Smaller details, such as handmade menu cards and subtle wintergreen branches heralded lush wintergreen garland, oversized pinecones, and the centerpiece of the dining room—the main tree dressed in natural elements. Indoors and out, the presentation feels organic and traditional, without caricaturizing the holiday.

And for four-star dining (and to alleviate any stress associated with cooking for guests), Campbell employed a local caterer to handle the menu and serving. It paid off in spades, as guests and hosts were able to enjoy the festivities comfortably, proving that style and substance can harmonize during holiday entertaining, if carefully and creatively planned.

Sitting Room

The sitting room was decorated by the hosts’ children with traditional reds and greens. The tree is a reflection of the family, with eclectic ornaments collected over the years.

The Entrance

As guests arrived at the Eastern Shore home, they were treated to the sight of the front porch covered in wintergreen garland, large pinecones, a festive wreath, the warm glow of candlelight in classic outdoor lanterns, and two very jolly moss snowmen. As they stepped in the door they were met with champagne and an array of petite appetizers, served on rustic wood slices by the caterer. The house had the subtle scent of natural wintergreens enhanced by the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.

The Arrangements & Accenting

The holidays are a great time to decorate in layers, to see this style at its best. Decorating can be as simple as adding fresh cut cedar or pine to your existing décor. Campbell added fresh greens spilling out of an open storage crate, as well as replaced traditional wall pillar candles with petite cedar wreaths. A well-styled home does not have to cost a small fortune if you are creative.

The Menu

The evening’s menu was a divine and creative mix, beginning with passed hors d’oeuvres of crostini with beef tenderloin and horseradish crème, as well as tomato and mozzarella pipettes with basil vinaigrette. The first course featured roasted butternut squash soup with pear crème fraiche and the main course was an herbed chicken roulade. Desserts capped the evening’s culinary adventure including salted caramel bread pudding.

The Table

To set the tone of the evening, the dining table with classic china and crystal. The napkins were folded into a square to represent a gift box and accented with a handmade menu card and a wintergreen branch that was harvested from the trees lining the backyard. The centerpiece was kept full and lush, and low enough to encourage conversation across the table and, of course, make room for a toast or two.

The Tree

The highlight of the dining room was the main tree, dressed in natural elements such as burlap, pinecones, and quail feathers, all designed in a neutral pallet to enhance the dinner table display.