Holiday Hosting with Friends

Hosting our loved ones for gatherings of any and all sorts is one of our greatest joys, one that fills us with warmth and festive merriment even in the depths of winter. In the midst of this holiday season, we are taking every opportunity to warm our homes and hearts through gathering: inviting friends and family over for afternoon crafts, candlelit dinner parties, and everything in between. This holiday season, we asked a few of our dearest friends - Amy Blessing, Dana Williams, Helen Nishi, Heather Taylor and Beatrice Valenzuela - to share their favorite holiday hosting morsels, from festive cocktails to wintry tunes. We hope that these little tips and tricks will inspire you as much as they have inspired us. May you hold your loved ones even closer this holiday season...happy hosting!

Wreath Making with Amy

To make your own holiday wreaths, start with standard 12 inch wreath forms and 24 gauge green floral wire. From your local flower market, collect various holiday greens - eucalyptus leaves and pods, pine, spruce, noble fir - anything that looks pretty and seems like it won't dry out too quickly (or if it did dry, would dry nicely). Use the thin wire to wrap small bunches of the greens onto the wreath form. Careful to never cut the wire, overlap the next small bundle of greens over the wire-wrapped end of the previous bundle, going all the way around until the wreath is finished!

Holiday Tunes with Dana

Blue Christmas - Elivs Presley

Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes

Mistletoe and Holly - Frank Sinatra

This Christmas - Donny Hathaway

Jealous Guy - Donny Hathaway

Dance Me To the End of Love - Madeleine Peyroux

White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes

Winter Wonderland - She & Him

Auld Lang Syne - Andrew Bird

Flowers in December - Mazzy Star


KK wearing the Valley Coat, and Beatrice Valenzuela wearing the Maritime Jean

Helen's Holiday Horchata

4 quarts of water
4 cups of rice
2 inch cinnamon stick
1 inch piece peeled fresh ginger, sliced
1 inch piece peeled fresh turmeric, sliced
1 pinch of sea salt
12 dates, pitted
1 cup almond milk
1 cup coconut water

1. Combine rice, water, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, salt, and dates in a large glass container with ample room for the rice to swell as it soaks. Stir and soak over-night in the refrigerator.
2. The following day, blend in batches on the highest speed in a good quality blender, being careful to pulverize the rice completely. Pour each blended batch through a fine mesh strainer until you've blended and strained all of it. Use a ladle or wooden spoon to help push the liquid through the strainer, being careful not to waste any.
3. Add the coconut water and almond milk a little at a time, up to a cup of each, or until you've reached the desired consistency; it should be thick and creamy but not overly so. You can always push it through a strainer a second time if it's too gritty in texture, although some of that should be expeected for traditional horchata.
4. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Serve over ice.

Table Setting Tips with Heather

1. Mix and match your linens by picking a tablecloth in one pattern and napkins in another pattern. Mix a check and a stripe for an eye-catching combination (be sure to pick complimentary colors!).

2. Include a floral element but don't overthink it. I love to go to the farmers market and purchase a few bunches of whatever looks the prettiest to me. Since I'm by no means an expert flower arranger I like to create small, monochromatic arrangements in water glasses from my kitchen. Very easy and pretty.

3. Candles create the most beautiful glow and really help set the mood. We like setting them up in odd numbered groupings, organically placed down the center of the table.

4. For a more traditional/formal dinner I love to use placecards–it fels really special.


Marbled Paper Gift Wrapping with KK & MK

Each year we take the time to wrap our holiday gifts with extra love and care, making each one feel even more thoughtful and special. See below for a few of our favorite wrapping tips and tricks.

1. Choose an artful wrapping paper. This year we sought out marbled paper from our local stationary shop, Jonathan Wright - we love the organic intricacy of the marbling, and the thick, hearty feel of the paper. Find some at your local gift shop, or make your own - see a link to directions below!

2. Source an assortment of special ribbons. We love collecting ribbons from presents we receive and reusing them for our own wrapping, but when we buy our own we always choose a variety of grosgrain ribbons in rich, neutral hues - careful to use them in such a way that they can be repurposed again and again!

3. Add a little something extra. Once our gifts are wrapped and tied with a bow, we love to add one last little detail, be it a sprig of rosemary, or a paper flower. This year we were so excited to have found little ceramic mushrooms to ornament our ribbons - an homage to the little red mushrooms that grow under fir trees!

Find a guide to marbling paper here!

Chai Martinis with Beatrice

2 teabags or teaspoons of black tea
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon orange peel
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz red vermouth

1. Overnight, cold steep black tea, clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and orange peel in a pitcher in the refrigerator.
2. Add brown sugar to chai and stir.
3. Mix gin, red vermouth, and sweetened chai.
4. Run a sliced kumquat along the rim of the glass, and dip in a mix of sea salt and sumac.                             5
. Serve over ice, garnished with a sliced kumquat. Makes one.