December 26, 2008

Festival of Lights

It is a well-known secret that I have been vying to host a holiday party. Unfortunately, I never have had the opportunity, as there are plenty of other "hosts" in our family. Is it a coincidence then, that I finally got to host a holiday party for the holiday that is all about miracles and never loosing hope? I think not!

The Breakdown:

Although my husband sometimes thinks I'm crazy, I love putting together a beautiful table, wonderful meal, and enjoyable atmosphere, and the smiles on my guests' faces is more than worth the effort!!!

The Decor

Since Hanukkah is the festival of lights, I decided to do a candlelit dinner for our 18 guests.

The Tablescape

I used blue tablecloths by Origins from Bed Bath & Beyond. These are actually my favorite table cloths (I own them in multiple colors) because they look great, they are stain resistant, and they are pretty reasonable (especially if you have BB&B coupons to spare).

Instead of using a table runner, I created a faux table runner with silver Hanukkah gelt, and I spread the candles down the middle of the "runner."
Since I didn't have enough napkin rings for all of our guests, I used garland I found at Crate & Barrel to create napkin holders. Then, I tucked a dreidel under each garland, so that every guest could spin their own dreidel at their leisure.

I took the left over garland from the napkin holders, and hung it from the chandelier.

I had been eyeing these silver containers at Gelson's for some time now, and I finally broke down and treated myself to them. I placed floral foam on the bottom and arranged white hydrangeas and roses in each container.

Seating Cards

When I have a lot of guests, I prefer to make seating cards. My husband thinks it's too formal, but I personally think that when you have a lot of guests over for a sit down dinner, you really should use seating cards. First, everyone always asks you were they should sit anyway, and second, it allows you to strategically place your guests so that you can ensure that everyone is having a good time.

I made the seating cards using scrapbooking paper that I had on hand. I cut 4x4 pieces of white paper and folded them in half. Then I attached a 1x4 piece of silver paper to the center of one of the folded sides.

I found a great free dreidel font online by Artsylady. The first initial of every name is set inside a dreidel, but the best part was that the English letters resembled Hebrew letters. A lot of our guests know how to read Hebrew, and they got a real kick out of the font on the cards.
Additional Decor
I bought 4 napkins to match the tablecloths, so I could add a little color to the living room. I set two of them on an entry way table, where we were planning on lighting the channukiahs. I then set the other two on the coffee table. I placed a centerpiece over the napkins to hide the place where they overlapped. I then spread out mini dreidels and silver Hanukkah gelt.

I also repurposed a candle holder I bought from Bed Bath & Beyond for my husband's birthday. It originally came with sea shells, but ironically I've never used them. For my husband's birthday, I lined the inside with fragrance beads (also from BB&B), and I placed orchids on top of the beads.

This time, I left the beads in, but I placed mini dreidels on top of the beads.

The Menu
First Course: I like serving a first course because it allows me to have time to greet my guests. Then when they sit down to have the first course, I have plenty of time to heat the main course.
  • Israeli Salad

  • Winter Salad
Main Course: I found it was helpful to have two serving plates for each dish so my guests didn't have to wait until the serving plates went by 17 other people before they could enjoy.
  • Brisket

  • Moroccan Chicken

  • Schnitzel

  • Mashed Potatoes

  • Latkes

  • Zucchini and Corn in Tomato Sauce
Dessert: Everyone was so full after dinner, so I waited to serve dessert until after we opened presents. I cleared the dishes from a section of the table, and served dessert buffet style, so everyone could sit where ever they wanted.
  • Apple Cake

  • Sufganiyot

  • Cookies

  • Fruit

I wish I could post pictures of the amazing family and friends that enjoyed the holiday with us...but, alas, I choose to stay anonymous.

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