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Hosting a Holiday Gathering

After Chris and I moved into our new home this year I knew I wanted to host guests more. No matter the time of year, I love welcoming friends, enjoying food together and sitting around and chatting. During Christmas, there’s just something even more magical about this! Chris and I hosted his work colleagues recently and had SO much fun! They’re a fun crew that we get along really well with, so it was a treat to have them all over before the ‘real’ Christmas madness set in. I think having a Christmas dinner well before Christmas contributed a lot to the success of the evening. The earlier you host your event the better the chances people will actually be able to come. I’ve laid out some of my top tips and tricks when it comes to hosting during the holidays!

Smaller ombré tree linked here. We have a 7.5ft version and you can find that here. They also have black and gold! Cozy plush rug here

Where To Host A Holiday Event 

Just because you’re “hosting,” doesn’t mean it needs to be in your home! I’m sure there are a lot of great places in your town or city to host an event. It’s all really up to you and the space that you have!

In-Home

Luckily we now have the space to host a larger crowd of people, so we decided to take that route! Plus, it gave me the excuse to decorate extra! Yay! It’s nice to be able to have control over the evening and event and not have to drive home or find a ride at the end of the night. Legitimately a big perk is rolling into bed after a night with friends, and dealing with the mess the next morning! Yes, it’s a lot of work with the clean up before and after, but it’s really rewarding at the same time. 

Place mats here. Tartan plates here

Restaurant

Depending on your situation and the number of people that you’re inviting, it might be worthwhile to check out restaurants in your city who can accommodate you. Some places have separate dining rooms or tucked away event rooms to host a more intimate gathering. If you truly are hosting this might end up costing you a lot more. Communicate to the guests who is flipping the bill. Sometimes a restaurant will suggest a set menu which usually means the food is coming out faster but also means you have to individually check on everyone’s food restrictions.  Overall the restaurant experience can be great – no prep, clean up, or other hassles. Just show up and enjoy! 

Hotel

If you’re planning on hosting an even larger holiday party, renting out space at a hotel could be your best option. Whether that’s a formal dining room or an even larger banquet hall. It’ll provide you with the time and space to invite as many people as you’d like and leave all the catering and finer details to the staff there. I can’t say I have a lot, or any, experience hosting an event this big but I can imagine you want to make sure you’re booking your date and sending invites well in advance, especially if the event is during the holidays! 

 

Planning Food When Hosting a Holiday Event

When you decide to host in your home, there are a lot of different ways that you can choose to feed your guests! You can go full on homemaker and prep for days, encourage guests to bring their own dish or outsource and get it catered! It truly depends on your budget and what’s best for you!

Catering

Chris and I decided to use our good friends Taylor and Mike De Costa, also known as Taylor Made Cuisine for our gathering. They are a boutique catering company that is sure to impress. We found that they were actually a really affordable catering option and they provided us with the menu options that we were most excited about.

The best part about some catering services, is that they can take care of actually serving your guests and even making sure the kitchen is clean when they leave! We had the food delivered without the serving staff, since our gathering was small, but you can choose either option with catering companies, typically. We didn’t feel as much pressure surrounding the food because we knew it would be good and be delivered warm. It made the evening that much more enjoyable!

Homemade

Putting in the work to make the food on your own is admirable! But even if you’re an excellent chef (which, I’m sure you are!), it’s a lot to do. Depending on what you want to make, it might take either all day or even several days to make everything! Then when it’s time to serve your guests, you’ll want to ensure that everything is warm enough and coordinate what time the different dishes will be ready. 

 

If you’re going to go the do-it-yourself route, you’ll definitely save money (but IMO time=money sometimes)! Be sure to look over all of your recipes and dish choices a week in advance so you can prep your master grocery list and ensure that you know the schedule that you need to make yourself!

Potluck Style

Everyone loves a good potluck! If you’re hosting friends around the holidays, this is such a fun and tasty option! If we do a potluck, we make sure to send out a sign up sheet beforehand so that we know all bases are covered. We’ll also take on the task of providing the meat and then asking our guests to bring salads, appetizers, sides, and desserts! It’s so much fun!

Prepping Drinks/Alcohol For Your Holiday Event

Of course no good adult party comes without a few flowing drinks. We want to make sure that we’re keeping our guests hydrated (and maybe a little rosy) while they’re over! Chris and I are really into craft alcohol and love making semi-advanced cocktails at home. Basically we’re willing to go beyond a spirit + soda blend but we aren’t lighting drinks on fire or using more than like 6 ingredients.

Serve Yourself

I usually love to set up our bar cart or different “stations” for beverages. It’s a fun way for people to decide for themselves. Often, there’s a cooler filled with beer or anything that comes in a can. Depending on your guests, you can also have a separate cooler filled with pop or La Croix. Our bar cart will have more hard alcohol choices with mix and ice and then have another space for wine. These different spaces make it easier to have stations and ensure that everyone is not huddling around one surface. 

Hire a Bartender

Chris and I splurged on this for our guests this year, and it was a game-changer! Hiring a bartender, and the catering, ensured we had time to spend with our guests and enjoy time together. Because of this, we got to craft themed cocktails, and it was so fun! Our friend, Andrew Unke, dreamed up our themed cocktails and brought them to life (and he DID use fire)! He made a delicious Hot Toddy and a Cranberry-spiced pear martini as well as a Holiday old fashioned! They were so delicious and definitely brought a nice holiday flare to our event!

Entertainment When Hosting 

It’s fun to help all of that food digest with a few games! Nothing too active, but still something to bring the group together. The White Elephant Game is one of my favorites around the holidays because it goes hand in hand with the spirit of the season! Set a dollar amount limit for your guests to spend on and decide ahead of time whether it’s supposed to be a silly present or something that anyone would enjoy! This game is so much fun and a great way to get some friendly competition and suspense going! We decided to do a $25 limit and encourage practical gifts (not silly). Chris ended up with a pair of athletic underwear (with a giant lion face I might add, so kind of silly but an inside firehouse joke) for Chris and I got a movie-themed gift with candy, popcorn and movie tickets. The high-in-demand gift that everyone was chasing was a set of flavored coffee syrups with mug. 

 

Other great games ideas for after dinner is a scavenger hunt throughout the house or whatever space you’ve decided to host your event in! If you’re looking for something more laid back, bring along fun games like Jenga, Forbidden Words, or What Do You Meme – that one has been a favorite for Chris and me this year!

Have Fun Decorating

I said it above, I’m so happy to host because it means I get to add a little extra holiday flair to our home and especially our dining table! I kept it pretty minimalist, crafty chic this time! I used a lot of pine cones and garland to give our space a bit more of a woodsy, cozy feel. My go-to company for personalized decor is For Your Party. I used this brand for my bridal shower and they never disappoint. Personalized napkins, cups, and favors are a MUST for me. It always puts a nice little touch on any event you are hosting and they have a TON of options on their website. 

I also love to decorate our front porch as you might know from Instagram. I think it creates a welcoming vibe for us to come home to on the day-to-day but also from the moment that our guests step onto our property! First impressions are important! I decorated our porch with poinsettias, garland, and a few other touches!

There are SO many decor themes to choose from around this time, it’s not just all red and green. Target and Michael’s have some beautiful stuff and they are easier on the wallet. Even the dollar store can be a great place to buy an inexpensive plain vase or other little pieces to add here and there!



No matter what your plans are for hosting this holiday season, there are a lot of different ways to execute the perfect holiday get together. After hosting our first dinner in the new home I’m thinking hiring a caterer will be pretty popular for us moving forward. Have fun making YOUR event entirely your own! These are just some of the best tips and tricks that I’ve come up with and will be sure to use for years to come! Let me know how your holiday hosting goes by tagging me on Instagram. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!



Fashion

Paris meets Newport Beach- #MajesticSaysOui

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My bridal shower weekend has finally come and gone, and it was literally a dream! I had a vision for A LOT of pink, with Parisian vibes. With some help from my stylish sister-in-law and the rest of my family and friends, it came to life!

When I was brainstorming theme, it was easy to come up with Parisian, because my mom was actually born in Paris and grew up with a lot of French influence in her family. Since she was helping to throw the shower (from afar), she was super excited to move forward with this theme!

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Lucky for me, my sister-in-law-to-be is a style and design wizard (La Confidence Events)! She quickly took the reigns on this Parisian, Chanel-inspired bridal shower. We started planning about 2-3 months in advance, because I knew I didn’t want to rush it, AND I wanted to keep it as affordable as possible.

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We had a vision for a lot of PINK! Before I knew it, we were collecting supplies from all over the place. Some from Etsy, some from the streets of Los Angeles, Party City, etc. I think the key for being cost effective, was looking at all of the options, and that takes time of course.

ATTIRE

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I knew that I wanted my outfit to be fabulous. I am not the type of girl who is prepared for events and parties. I tend to wait until the last minute to find an outfit and then I’m not super happy with what I’m wearing. This time, I planned WAY in advance and sought out a fun tulle skirt to complete the Parisian vibe. I found this skirt from Space 46 Boutique where the options are ENDLESS. They have tulle skirts in any color, and any length. I went to the shop, since I live locally, but most of their business is online. My top is from Forever 21! I googled away for months to find the perfect top to complement my skirt. I wanted simple, but chic, and this really did the trick. I completed the outfit with a beret, Chanel pearl necklace and Chanel perfume! You can see links to my outfit pieces and other options below.

 

I knew the day was going to be busy, so I had Erica from 10.11 Makeup come to beautify me! She does not disappoint, and I can’t wait to see her again on my wedding day. I went for a French, Parisian look with thick black liner and bright lips. Top with beret, voila! Even EMS made an appearance in her beret and striped shirt. She wasn’t as happy to be donned in Parisian attire, however.

 

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FOOD

Now… let’s talk FOOD. I knew what I wanted from the start, I just had to find someone who offered it. There are a ton of catering companies in Orange County; many of them are not only expensive, but very specific with what you can order. I ended up choosing my favorite meal-planning boss babe Taylor DeCosta, from Taylor Made Cuisine, and I am SO glad I did. She customized the menu to exactly what I wanted, AND played a huge role in making sure everything went smoothly throughout the entire party. Taylor and her husband Mike offer both catering and meal prep services in Orange County, and they truly know how to make a customer happy.

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TREATS

What would a bridal shower be without FABULOUS treats?! My best advice? DON’T skimp on the desserts.  I used a combination of locations to provide the sweets.

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My mother-in-law was kind enough to order a cake and it did not disappoint! I have always dreamed of having a cake like this, and when I saw it, I felt like a princess who had her dreams come true. The cake was designed and ordered from Penelope’s Perfections, in Costa Mesa. It was as tasty as it was beautiful! I love almond flavoring, so my mother-in-law chose the almond flavored cake with raspberry filling. DIVINE. My family also added a few peonies and a Chanel decal to the cake to fit perfectly with my theme.

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I couldn’t have a French-inspired shower without croissants. I ordered these in bulk from a bakery in Tustin, Cream Pan. They have a wide array of selections and I couldn’t decide so I needed them all! I chose a variety of butter, chocolate, almond, and strawberry and cream croissants. Lay these out on platters of your choice and they can complement your decor.

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To complete the dessert table, I wanted a variety of mini desserts that included mini caramel apple pies, macaroons, and sugar cookies in the shape of a Chanel perfume bottle and Eiffel Tower. One of my favorite bakeries in Orange County for specialty desserts, is Sweet and Saucy. They can make ANYTHING, and they taste fabulous.

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FLORALS 

OK… I love flowers. I always have fresh flowers in my home, and I can appreciate what fresh blooms will do to a room, especially if you’re having a party. What I don’t love, is what florals can cost. You wouldn’t believe some of the quotes we received for my bridal shower! I get it, florists are amazing and they really know what they’re doing. We just weren’t willing to spend that on the bridal shower.

Thanks to my sister-in-law’s genius idea (who is starting her event planning business, La Confidence Events), we purchased all of our florals and vases from the flower mart in Los Angeles. Yah, it required driving to a not-so-nice area in LA, it’s not the most convenient plan if you’re busy, but I am SO glad we made this choice.

I purchased eight vases in various sizes for $40, and a few more silver pails for 50% off at another shop in LA. I paid less than $150 total for the flowers themselves. I used a combination of pink roses, ranunculus, white hydrangeas, baby’s breath, and some greens to mix in. We cut and built the arrangements ourselves, the night before the shower. It was definitely more work by doing these ourselves, especially with transportation, but it worked out in the end and those blooms are still living in my home as I write!

 

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Venue and Decor

One of my favorite places in Orange County, is Pelican Hill Resort. It isn’t far from my home, but it when you stay here, it feels like you’re in another world! I had my 30th birthday party here and it was one for the books. It was the first place I thought of when I was deciding on venue for my bridal shower.

My preference when staying here, is to rent one of the villas and share it with family or friends. We stayed in a three-bedroom villa with an ocean view. It is THE PERFECT place to get some R&R, and entertain a small group of family or friends. There is a full kitchen, and very spacious quarters. My parents came from Michigan for the weekend, and Chris’ parents stayed as well. It was a really fun bonding weekend for all of us, and saved time on traveling to another bridal shower destination.

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As I mentioned before, the decor came from many different vendors and locations. One of my favorite companies to work with was For Your Party. This brand offers the cutest products for customizing and personalizing your events, with free range to design as you please! I had a great time designing all of my products. I plopped down on my couch one day and designed each of these products, keeping the French/Chanel theme in mind of course!

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My ladies and I came up with a hashtag (would you have expected anything else?) so I tried to incorporate that into much of my decor. The personalized napkins were A MUST. They come in a variety of styles and the fonts/graphics are endless. I had to emphasize Chris’ sweet proposal with these coasters, and placed another more interactive coaster on the table as well.

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Since we had so many amazing treats, I wanted a cute goodie bag that my guests could put them in, to take home. I LOVE how they turned out, and fit in with my theme, hashtag included. For favors, I chose personalized tea bags, shown below on the right, that my guests could pick up on their way out. These were paired with candles (also shown below) for each guest. I figured at least these favors would be super cute, AND useful at home!

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I wanted to have something a little different for my guests to do while at my shower, so we decided to set up a wine tasting table. Of course, the winner would get an awesome prize! I rented 6 different carafes, and picked various wines for tasting. I chose 2 champagnes, 2 rosés, and 2 sauvignon blancs, and asked that my guests determine which was a “save” vs “splurge”. I needed tasting cups for the game, made by For Your Party, as well as paper signs indicating what the game was.

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My other sister-in-law arranged the rest of the games, which included a bridal emoji game, “he said she said game, and “guess the age of the bride” in various photos. Don’t judge!! You will likely not recognize me in many of these photos!

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Are you planning a party anytime soon? Use code CASSIExFYP for 10% off your order.

The code is only valid until October 31, 2018!

 

The rest of my decor was purchased as followed:

Tablecloths- fabric district in LA (~$40 for 6 gorgeous fabric tablecloths)

Balloons- American Celebrations in LA and Party City (~ $100 for combo of customized letter balloons, large 36 inch balloons, 9 inch latex balloons)

**Balloon tassels hand made out of sheets of tissue paper. They were otherwise very expensive and we wanted a lot of them for the big balloons. Big shoutout to my mom here for doing most of them!!

**Don’t forget about helium! Sometimes there are restrictions to how many balloons a vendor will fill for you. We rented a helium tank for $45. That is very affordable for this county, but we called around and somehow got lucky.

Invitations- Zazzle (~$90)

Silverware, plates, straws- Amazon, Party City

 

 

 

Mirror decal, bridal shower sign, photo props- Etsy

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I’ve said this over and over, but my bridal shower really did feel like a dream. I cannot believe I am marrying my best friend in a few short months, and it meant SO much to me to have my friends and family at this special event in my life.

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And to all of you who are joining from afar, you feel like friends and family to me, and your sweet comments don’t go unnoticed!

 

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Personalized Thank you cards by For Your Party

 

All photos by Zo’e Cole

 

 

Dr. Majestic

I invite you to take a glimpse into my crazy, beautiful life in medicine and allow me to teach you my health, wellness, and lifestyle tips along the way. 

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