-Written by Anne Valgoi-
Happy holidays to my sweet friends and followers! This season is the perfect time to entertain whether it is hosting your business associates, neighborhood friends, or immediate family.
A few weeks ago, a mother’s dream came true. All my adult children, their spouses, and Nolan (our two-year-old grandson), as well as the newest addition to the family- a ten-week-old golden retriever puppy was present to celebrate Thanksgiving. They traveled near and far from New York City, Miami and Buckhead to be together at our home.
Our children experience such busy and exciting lives that my husband and I decided to plan out a fun and exciting itinerary for hosting our family. This was our holiday entertaining this year!
It has been a tradition for the family to participate in the Atlanta Thanksgiving 5K (also going on at the same time is the half marathon). The race began at 7:30 am sharp at the Georgia State Stadium and whined through the streets of Grant Park neighborhood. As you can imagine, the race “attracted thousands of runners and walkers eager to share in the holiday spirit and give thanks for their health and fitness”. Most of us enjoyed the activity and no, we did not all wear turkey hats! Once home, we started prepping the Thanksgiving feast while our son-in-law graciously deep fried the turkey outside.
My key to holiday hosting was to have a detailed plan. I organized the menu a few weeks beforehand and I left time for unforeseen situations. I recommend writing down your menu and a timeline of what needs to be done on a busy Thanksgiving or Holiday morning. Additionally, it has been a custom to set our holiday table several days early using my own china and crystal as well as mixing in a few lovely pieces of my Grandmother’s and Great Grandmother’s finest. The table was alive with memories and looked eclectic as well as artistic even before the inclusion of flowers.
Flowers always adorn my dining room table during entertaining. They add color, texture, and beauty. This year I utilized three medium-sized glass cubed vessels and tightly arranged a variety of red roses, yellow nosegay roses, white and yellow Gerber daisies and some greenery which included various types of eucalyptus. These arrangements were low enough so family guests could converse from each side of the lively table. I also added some organic cranberries to the bottom of the vases (before I added the room temp water and the flowers) which provided a beautiful deep red pop of color to my holiday table.
Another big hit with entertaining this season is the charcuterie board or platter. It is fun to create and delicious. This holiday my oldest daughter, Alison, oversaw the appetizers and she created an exquisite platter that included a variety of savory meats, delicious cheeses, fruit, nuts, crackers, French bread slices, and delectable chocolate!
After our feast, board games crowed the table and the laughter continued- our home was filled with high energy and lovely chaos. Our hosting continued the following day with a trip to North Georgia touring a few vineyards that were both children and pet- -friendly. We lunched on the outdoor deck at Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega and spent the afternoon enjoying the views and music at Kaya Winery- both our favorites.
The next day, we did something new to all of us, we scheduled a walking food tour in Inman Park. We enjoyed food tasting at six local restaurants which included black pepper biscuits and gravy at The One Ear Stag as well as Food Network’s best-loved Asian dumplings at Krog Street Market. Our tour guide told stories of the old Victorian homes that graced the streets of Inman Park and we also appreciated the diverse art along the Atlanta Beltline Trail. All eight of us loved the experience including our grandson but the puppy stayed at home.
Later that evening, we bundled up and headed to the Atlanta Botanical Garden (my happy place) for their annual Garden Light Holiday Extravaganza. We walked through the garden and enjoyed the many lighted exhibits but our preferred one was entitled “Nature’s Wonders”, the world’s largest curtain of synchronized lights and music. This was a true delight for the young and older!
Everyone was leaving on Sunday but first since we were all together-creating memories- we had a family photo taken in our backyard. Our daughter was in charge of pulling together a color scheme for the pics. These photos will be cherished for years to come and just might be our Christmas card for next year!
Cheers to holiday entertaining whether it be with acquaintances, your best friends, or your own special family.