Bonjour everyone! The end of 2011 is just days away which means planning for New Year’s celebrations is in full swing. If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve Party or a New Year’s Day brunch, why not give your soirée a French twist? And before you roll your eyes at this Francophile post, I am not suggesting you rush out to buy Eiffel Tower cocktail napkins or a velvet beret. Rather, I’m suggesting you incorporate the simple elegance of French entertaining through these easy strategies…..
Less is More – Although Christmas decorations can help prolong the festive feel of the season, do as the French do and showcase your “best” holiday pieces for all to enjoy, including a beautifully decorated tree, mirrors topped with hollyberry wrapped candles, and nearly anything that shines or sparkles. Store everything else – including the singing snowman and laughing reindeer – until next Christmas.
Silver and Gold – New Year’s is such a magical time – and silver and gold accents seem to emulate this magic. Now is the time to serve your tapas on your great grandmother’s silver tray and get those gold-trimmed crystal wine glasses out of storage.
Le Food – You don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen sweating over a fancy French meal to serve your New Year’s guests. Simple French standards will set the tone and keep guests from overindulging (like many have done leading up to this point). Lighter options include bite-size quiche, cheeses paired with nuts, fruit, and baguettes, while a carved meat or petit croque monsieur (1-2 bite ham and cheese sandwiches) paired with grainy French mustard provides a little more substance. If your budget and number of guests permit, avoid serving your food buffet-style – it is very American, less personalized, and definitely low on the “elegance” list. Instead, serve or pass small trays of hors d’oeuvres or strategically set the trays around the room – which also encourages movement and mingling.
A Bit of the Bubbly – What would New Year’s be without Champagne? How convenient that Champagne (or anything sparkling) is très French as well. Keep glasses of Champagne chilled in the fridge or a large silver ice bucket. For a true NYE event, serve the bubbly straight up in your best stemware (no plastic or paper please!). For a daytime event, pour in a splash of orange, cranberry, or other juice for a sweeter cocktail. To add a bit of panache, drop a strawberry, raspberry, or blackberry in the glass just before serving.
Sweet Sounds – Having the right music playing as guests arrive really sets the tone for the whole event. Although classical and jazz are great options for a daytime event, an evening event may call for something a little more funky. And, to keep with your chic French theme, you really can’t go wrong with Pink Martini, Gipsy Kings, or Paris Combo.