If you haven’t already, it’s time to start celebrating the season! Today, tastemaker Megan Proby, founder of Nashville-based 12th Table, walks us through hosting guests for the holidays. No matter in which StyleBlueprint city you live, you’ll find Megan’s advice poignant and approachable. Whether you are having a few friends over this weekend or a gaggle of guests at the end of the month, these tips are sure to come in handy. Here’s Megan …
It’s hosting season — that time of year where we find ourselves gearing up to entertain an influx of guests from turkey to tinsel. And while you might adore having guests flit in and out of your home, exchanging hugs and well wishes, figuring out just how to memorably deck those halls can be a challenge. To give you a leg up, I’ve curated the ideal holiday celebration with two of my local faves: The Salted Table and WithCo.
4 Easy Tips for Creating the Ultimate Holiday Shindig
1. Curate the space.
When you start planning your holiday feast, begin with the environment. Create a space that feels inviting and thoughtful. While Christmas tends to be the season of warmth and excess — everything is garnished and frosted and decked — do what feels like you. I tend to err on the side of timeless colors and simple, powerful design, so I opted for a large tree dolled up with varying sizes of textured silver ornaments and perfectly bright white lights. The goal: warm the space without overwhelming it.
2. Bring in your second fiddles.
Once you have the foundational design, bring in your second fiddles. These might seem like small details, but it’s the subtleties that make a space feel personal and well-considered. A simple way to do this is through gift wrapping. Instead of opting for standard stock, get creative. I adore artist Britt Bass and loved incorporating her new paper line, along with some soft velvet ribbon. To top it off, I paired these simple stunners with personalized gift cards from Olive Juice Press … icing on the cake!
3. Deck out your crown jewel, the table.
If you’re hosting a holiday feast, your main attraction will undoubtedly be the table. This is the space where people gather and linger to build memories, so you want it to feel both special and inviting. It’s so easy to overdo it here, but excess can often feel unapproachable. Focus on creating a table that’s personalized and warm, but still engaging. In my case, I went for a contemporary twist on a classic aesthetic — using traditional French bistro chairs paired with modern, structural floral design. And then, of course, candlelight. Candlelight everywhere. Votives for warmth, tapers for height and pillars for substance. The final touch? Personalized menus and place cards from Olive Juice Press.
4. Dazzle the taste buds.
Here’s where it really gets good: the meal. Holidays are such a sensory experience, and there are few better ways to care for those you love than to give them a fine-cooked meal and a perfectly paired cocktail.
I’ve never been a cook, so I called in the professionals. Charles Hunter, with The Salted Table, prepared an epic feast of celery and pear gratin (recipe below) with charred pear and citrus goat cheese salad. The centerpiece? Delectable pink peppercorn-crusted chicken with roasted apple stuffing!
- 1 head celery w/ leaves (chopped)
- 2½ Bosc pears, cored & sliced (reserve ½ pear)
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, julienned
- ¼ cup port or sherry wine
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 ounce reserved for topping
- ½ Tsp kosher salt
- ¼ Tsp ground white pepper
- 2 dashes of crushed red pepper flake
- ¼ cup buttered breadcrumbs (like a brioche)
- On medium-high heat in a 4-qt deep sauté pan, cook your onions, celery and bay leaves in the butter and olive oil for 5-10 minutes until you start to get some caramelization on your vegetables. Then, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking your vegetables until fork tender. Dust the flour over your vegetables and stir until there are no clumps present. Add the wine and stock, allow to cook for 5 minutes while stirring until your sauce thickens. Fold in heavy cream.
- Remove the bay leaves, add the 2 sliced pears, 2 ounces of cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, white pepper, kosher salt and stir until cheese has begun to melt, then stop. Evenly distribute the remaining 1 ounce of cheese over the top, followed by the breadcrumbs. Strategically poke your remaining pear slices into the top of the dish. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until your crumbs begin to brown and your sauce is bubbling around the edges. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, and some lemon zest or a sprinkle of more cheese and smoked paprika. Enjoy.
And then for drinks, look no further than WithCo, a fresh ingredient cocktail mixer (readers outside of Nashville, WithCo will be shipping soon and you can sign up for their waiting list here!). While I always offer the staples of reds and whites, I love throwing in a curated cocktail. It keeps the ensemble interesting and just a touch more thoughtful. WithCo is genius for me because it takes out the guesswork and makes a well-delivered drink solidly simple and delicious.
Thank you to Megan for sharing these helpful tips and to the folks below for making everything picture perfect!
And, if you are in need of a great holiday playlist for your shindig, Anna Lee, of Lighting 100, put together this Spotify playlist for us last year, that we are still lovin’ this year. With 66 songs, you won’t run out of tunes!
Get more seasonal suggestions and holiday inspiration in our “Holiday Homes” section.