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Christmas Party Decor, Food + Beverage Felici Events Style

Impromptu Felici-Hour Holiday Party

Last night marked the 8th year that Zohe Felici - Event Party Planner Extraordinaire - hosted a pre #paradeoflights gathering at Casa Felici.  The only difference, is that this year she had been traveling, and decided at the last minute to continue and host this ongoing tradition.  With only a few hours to put the "Felici-Hour" together, before she and her friends would head to see the boat parade and fireworks, Zohe dug into her impromptu skills to make this Felici Event effortless for her and a success for guests.


There were four decor elements Zohe focused on to put together a holiday table-scape on her dining table.  She chose items (from storage) that accented height and interest to the table without overkill:

  • 1.5 foot tall Pier One Imports wooden snowman she fell in love with a few years back
  • wooden 3 tier Swedish Christmas Candle Carousel from Ikea - Zohe grew up with one and was always mesmerized by how they work using only candle heat to spin around….
  • mini Christmas tree gifted to her by the amazing and talented floral designer Kellye Clifford of Precious and Blooming at a recent coffee meeting.  This became a double-use item (Zohe loves two-fers, see more below).
  • red table runner from Cost Plus World Market
Felici Events Christmas Table Set Up

Felici Events Christmas Table Set Up

Favors and Entertainment:

As mentioned, the tree became a two-fer.  See it plain and simple on the image below and to the left.  At the foot of the tree are mini ornaments (from Ikea).  Zohe had no time to do this task, therefore she created this very fun activity for the kids (adults got involved too).  Zohe believes that interactive projects at parties are a great form of entertainment, so this was a no-brainer.  Voila, on the right is the finished product created by Zohe's almost-niece Malia.  Malia was so proud of her creation and keepsake!

Felici Events Kids Activity for a Holiday or Christmas Party

Felici Events Kids Activity for a Holiday or Christmas Party

Food and Beverage:

Once the table was set, Zohe, being the Italian that she is, moved on to feeding her guests.  With a time limit, she incorporated both home-made and store-bought items for nibbles.  From clockwise we have:

  • pizzette and arancini (placed in a 350 degree oven for about 14 minutes) from Trader Joe's
  • gorgonzola cheese dip with crostini (easy as 1-2-3 recipe, ready in less than 5 minutes)*
  • brussels sprouts with a spicy sweet glaze (easy as 1-2-3 recipe, ready in less than 5 minutes)*
  • mulled wine (easy as 1-2-3 recipe, ready in less than 5 minutes) for adults*
  • hot apple cider (from Trader Joe's) for kids or add Rum for an adult beverage
Felici Events Easy Food and Beverage for a Christmas or Holiday Party

Felici Events Easy Food and Beverage for a Christmas or Holiday Party

 Gorgonzola Cheese Dip w/ Crostini

  • 1 x 8 oz. container Gorgonzola Cheese
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 1/8 c. half & half
    • microwave for 2 minutes
    • stir
    • microwave another 2 minutes
    • stir
    • serve with home-made or pre-made buttered bread crostini

Brussels Sprouts in a Spicy Sweet Glaze

  • 1 x 10 oz. package shaved fresh brussels sprouts (produce section)
  • 2 T. butter, salted
  • 1.5 T. agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1 - 2 t. crushed red pepper
    • in large pan melt butter on medium
    • once melted increase temperature to high / medium high
    • add brussels sprouts and caramelize
    • stir occasionally so it does not burn, but let it brown
    • turn off burner
    • add agave nectar (feel free to add more to taste)
    • add crushed red pepper  (feel free to add more to taste)

Mulled Wine

  • 2 btls. red wine (preferably Merlot or something with hints of cherry)
  • 1 btl. white wine (preferably Chardonnay)
  • 1.5 c. sweet vermouth
  • 1.5 c. brandy
  • 1 fresh squeezed orange
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/4 T. cardamom
  • 1/4 T. fresh graded nutmeg
  • 5-6 whole cloves
    • put all ingredients in a large pot bring to a simmer
    • lower temperature to medium / low for 30 minutes
    • keep on warm until guests arrive or it is all sucked down!
    • pour into festive holiday mugs

Finally, she set her Spotify to the Michael Bublé Christmas Music Station, and there you have it.  How to prepare for and host a holiday happy-hour party for 8 in less than 1 hour.  The most time-consuming part of the preparation was the trip to Trader Joe's to purchase the food…..HA!

Happy Holidays Everyone!  We hope you celebrate safely with friends and loved ones in 2014 with these unique, #felicified and festive Christmas decor and food ideas inspired by #anotherfelicievent

Tented Birthday Celebration Dinner Party

Felici Events Presents: Event & Wedding Planning 101:

Weather: Plan A, B and C

Today we are relishing a bit of (very welcome) rain at Felici Headquarters.  A wet and rainy day like today reminds me of a Felici Event we produced, exactly nine months ago (plus one day), where an uninvited guest showed up - DOWNPOUR!

Last March, I had the honor of working with a Felici Client on her 50th birthday celebration.  The guest of honor wanted to host thirty close friends to a special (not your traditional Saturday night potluck) dinner party at her home.  The lovely clients' home is amidst Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara.  The first time I drove up to her home, I found myself in a gorgeous cul-de-sac type driveway that led to her front door.  There is lush landscaping and a working fountain encompassing it.  "What a magical spot!" I thought to myself.

The client's vision of design was a blend of romance and Mediterranean.  Hanging candle votives, fruits, herbs and vegetables inclusive in the centerpieces, candlelight and an elegantly neutral palate of linens, chairs and table top set up.

Felici Events Wedding Planner place setting

Felici Events Wedding Planner place setting

During our meeting, and walk thru of the potential spaces for dinner, I shared with the client that the house was not conducive to accommodate all guests seated together for a plated dinner.  I reminded the client that she hired me to make this night special, and it needed to set other (informal) dinner parties apart.  I suggested the use of the driveway as the dinner space.  Once I proposed to her the vision and schematics of a 'reveal' to the tented dinner area, the client fell in love with the idea!

The planning of the dinner event took place the months of January and February.  Santa Barbara provided beautiful weather and sunny skies every day leading up to the March 1st weekend.  Regardless of our gorgeous weather (common along the American Riviera) my experience as a seasoned event and wedding planner is to produce three plans. This time it had to do with rain:

Plan A - a tented event, in case of rain (the first week of March usually produces precipitation)

Plan B - great weather with no tent (al fresco)

Plan C - an indoor and less formal dinner in case of a torrential downpour.

Instantly I brought on the talents of Coco Rose Design and The Tent Merchant as the team to help me create Ann's dream into a reality.  The Tent Merchant's octagonal tent would fit perfectly in the driveway and easily accommodate 30 guests.  We brainstormed a couple of different layout options, and settled on having votives hanging from the center of the tent and the tables parallel to the tent walls, in an octagonal shape (single sided facing in) so all could see each other.  PERFECT!

The caterer, Chef Robin Goldstein, was a gem to work with!  She created an out of this world menu consisting of farm-to-table fresh foods, with authentic mediterranean preparation.  All the key vendors were in place and so the party begins!

Felici Events Birthday inside tent

Felici Events Birthday inside tent

Felici Events Birthday mediterranean Centerpieces

Felici Events Birthday mediterranean Centerpieces

You guessed it.  The week-end of the birthday party, there is a torrential downpour!  We experienced heavy rains all morning (there is even a YouTube video of the Santa Barbara Harbor being overcome by large waves) throughout the Southern California area.  I had not seen flash floods since my days in Dallas, Texas

The morning of the party, I drove to the house and found the tent (which was set up the day before) to have rivers running thru it!  The client, understandably stressed, expressed disappointment with the turn of events.*   I reassured her that the dinner would be perfect, and I would do everything in my power to ensure vision of the event.  I urged her to go her hair and make up appointments, and enjoy a day of pampering.  It took some time to console and comfort her, but reluctantly on her way she went escorted with a gal pal.

Mid afternoon, when the florist arrived, we looked at the weather radar which showed patterns of the rain dissipating around 4 p.m.  Guests would not be invited into the dinner tent until 6:30 p.m.  Could we pull it off?  The florist and caterer both confirmed that if by 5:45 p.m. there was no chance of holding the dinner outside, we would be able to move to plan C - placing design items and set a buffet in the living and dining areas for an indoor affair.

I was in the pouring rain for hours, successfully producing make-shift gutters (my alter ego is MacGyver) to deter rain around rain and not thru the tent.  Once complete I swept, mopped and dry vacuumed the inside of the tent.  The threatening red marks on the weather radar, eventually turned to light green specs.  The rain turned to sprinkles, and by 5:15 p.m. all was dry inside the canopy.  With all hands on deck and teamwork, we were ready to go by 6:00 p.m. The heaters in the tent warmed up the space, and combined with the candle light, gorgeous table decor and background music created the most romantic and cozy dinner setting I have produced outdoors after a downpour.

My favorite part is this unique and personalized touch of a play of MadLibs.  We called it "AnnLib" and it substituted a guest book.  The Felici Events graphics team created a cartoon of the client using her picture and added it to a customized MadLib for guests to fill out.

Felici Events creative guest book Mad Libs Cartoon

Felici Events creative guest book Mad Libs Cartoon

Felici Events unique party idea madlibs at each place setting

Felici Events unique party idea madlibs at each place setting

Felici Events wedding planning outside tent looking in

Felici Events wedding planning outside tent looking in

The birthday gal came to take a sneak peek before we invited guests to the 'grand reveal' of dinner, and tears of joy came to her eyes.  She was beyond ecstatic!  This party was not only #anotherfelicievent but one of the most rewarding moments in my career.  We really do turn dreams into a reality (thank you mother nature for keeping me on my toes).  Needles to say hostess and guests had a wonderful time and we created memories for all.  #anotherfelicievent

Felici Events decor table setting details Collage

Felici Events decor table setting details Collage

*Felici Fact: tenting will keep rain from falling on your head, but not water from coming up below.

Grazie Mille!

The Happy Couple look into their reception from the window on their very special day.