It’s party season! Ottawa At Home has tapped into expert resources for on-trend entertaining tips and inspiration.
Food & Drink
Erin Clatney, founder of Dish Catering, notes that styling components get stepped up during this time of year. “People are willing to spend a bit more to ensure that the overall look and feel of the event is elevated. More than ever, décor is a huge focus today. People want creative backdrops for Instagram pictures and outdoor components, complete with fire pits and blankets, to offer a sense of laid-back, cozy comfort.”
Erin confirms that beverages are in the spotlight now. “Our clients are willing to splurge on specialty items, such as a dedicated spirits bar including vintage and cut-crystal glassware along with rare whiskies, brandies, bourbons or rums. These products offer more variety than just having a signature cocktail.”
Tanya Whelan, director of operations at catering firm Tulips & Maple, says that the biggest difference today for holiday parties is the food. “People are interested in a lot of different cuisines; they want items that reflect our Canadian cultural diversity. Instead of the classic Christmas dinner, we’re often serving things like turkey satay, vegetarian spring rolls or salted caramel carrot-cake pops.”
She adds that buffets or stand-up receptions with passed canapes are now more popular than sit-down dinners. “People want to mingle and interact with each other, often in gatherings that are more intimate than in the past.”
Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme & Again Creative Catering, notes that quality take-out products now have an important role in holiday entertaining. “They are the perfect way to help round out a meal, while decreasing the pressure on the host. As the food industry continues to shift, there is an increasing selection of quality take-out products available and they offer the host a chance to enjoy time with friends and family rather than spending all their time cooking and serving.”
Setting the Table
Everyone has their own unique approach to holiday décor, according to designer and decorator Karen Grand of Grand Expectations. “Today, many people are polishing up family heirlooms and the holidays are the perfect time to bring out your most beautiful candlesticks, crystal and chargers. You might even have some special Christmas china that belonged to your grandmother—use it!”
Karen suggests setting your holiday table in a layering format that starts with the table linens and builds with contrasting napkins, flatware, dishes and glassware. “A fabulous centrepiece is a must—I like to see people incorporating fruit or other natural elements. Use different colours of foliage and berries in a centrepiece to make it extra fresh and distinctive. I also suggest tying sprigs of greenery or little wreaths to each chair to make the table even more festive and inviting.”
Karen has helped create memorable holiday décor for many years as part of the design team for Homes for the Holidays, which includes several florists and designers from around the city. Supporting Hospice Care Ottawa, this year’s tour on November 16 to 18, will showcase the talent of six of Ottawa’s top florists in homes across the area.
Florals & Greenery
Lynette Deir Mullen, owner of Stoneblossom Floral Gallery is a long-time supporter of the home tour. She likes a rustic modern look that incorporates traditional holiday décor with deep ruby tones for table-top décor. Designers at Alta Vista Flowers work with the traditions of the season to create dramatic centrepieces with natural elements that can often be found on a walk in the woods.
The owner of Flowers Talk Tivoli Elizabeth Young, is decorating two tour homes this year and with her team will create eye-catching displays that often include bling. Her table-top décor brings in the trend toward gold with traditional greenery and unexpected colour. Mill Street Florist owner Jessica Barrett believes in incorporating organic elements and combine twigs, florals, berries and even vegetables into holiday centrepieces. She leans towards unexpected colour combinations like orange and blue, mixed with traditional Christmas colours. “These rich contrasting colours add interest to any piece of work” offers Jessica.
At Trillium Floral Design, Diane Boyd and her daughter Mandy lean towards holiday elegance using a timeless design with a variety of white flowers and rustic components like birch bark vessels, and natural elements such as pinecones, magnolia and dogwood.
Sharon Slater, a floral designer with Scrim’s Florist has joined forces with Karen Grand to decorate a tour home. She prefers to keep the décor simple and says, “Christmas to me is about memories and helping clients showcase things that are meaningful to them.” Karen also advises to pare it down. “You don’t have to use all of your family’s holiday heirlooms. Instead select a few to blend with new items that you have acquired for the perfect balance of old and new.”