Holiday Wine and Cheese Party, Part 1 – One of Miss Party’s all-time favorites!!

This holiday wine and cheese party has become an annual event for Miss Party’s family that she dearly loves hosting at one of her favorite times of the year. She wants to put the idea out there for all Hostesses to consider next year because it’s such a fun party to host! Everyone is happy and feeling festive and it has put ‘Santa’s magic’ back into her holidays now that her children are older teens because the party’s theme is kept a secret until the invitation is received.

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Each year she keeps the event’s format the same; a simple wine and artisan cheese sampling for the adults with a few hors d’oeuvres and a separate (simultaneous), straightforward teen party for the ‘younger generation’. However, to keep it fresh for her to plan and a bit more fun and interesting for guests to attend (most on the guest list are the same each year), she changes the holiday sub-theme. If you commit to the idea and theme now, you can have a sense of the type of holiday decor you’re looking for. Yes, of course, you don’t have to have a sub-theme other than ‘Christmas/holiday’, but where’s the fun in that?!

To begin with, the star of this party is always the wine and artisan cheeses. Any other food or drink takes a backseat to the wine and cheese, and is merely filler. There is always three categories: Chardonnays; Pinot Noirs, and Cabernet Sauvignons. There are two wine offerings for each category and three cheeses (soft, semi-hard and hard) selected to accompany each wine category. The quality wines are selected each year by expert wine buyers and the artisan cheeses are paired by knowledgeable cheese sellers, done at a tasting with the hosts about one week prior to the party date. Each year, the selections in wine and cheese vary. One additional helpful hint to save all your tablecloths for a wine party –“Drop Stop” discs, you gotta get ’em! See “Drop Stop Wine Discs“.

This holiday, the third year, the theme for the party was ‘Christmas on Hollywood and Vine’ (as in glamorous Hollywood during the 30s-50s time period, and wine comes from grapes which are grown on vines). The imagined scenario was that the guests were invited to an old Hollywood star’s Christmas party. As shown in the image above, the elegant party invitations were square, petaled, ‘shimmer opal’ presentation folders. Inside, a deep purple-bordeaux ‘fig’ red (chosen because it’s the color of red wine), square card matted an ivory card with a sparkly deep red ribbon. The envelope was also ‘fig’. The teen invite was a smaller version of the adult invitation sans the presentation folder.

The sub-theme for this party is always subtle and low-key, more of an inspiration than an obvious, all-out theme, and the same was true for this old Hollywood theme. There was not going to be a red carpet or papparazzi! The party colors were purple-bordeaux red and ivory, accented with antique gold and silver. The retro glam or art deco-modern Christmas decor was reminiscent of the 30s-50s, nothing kitchy or cute: dramatic, white ostrich plumes in tall vases; red roses in crystal vases; the wine bottles wore mini fur stoles and huge diamond rings; large sparkly diamonds and jewels were scattered on tables; collections of various-sized, sparkly, mercury-glass votives with white tea lights were clustered on tabletops; coffee table books of old stars and starlets were placed on tables; all food was plated on silver platters or in crystal bowls; each wine glass was adorned with one or two sparkly, jeweled bracelets (See “DIY Jeweled Wine Glass Bracelets“).

The food and wine tables were covered with ivory tablecloths, then with overlays of bordeaux crushed velvet which was flecked with gold, unfortunately, the pics above don’t pick up the purple in the fabric. Most of the additional retro food dishes were popular in the 30s-60s. Classic Deviled Eggs were passed on a vintage hobnail deviled egg platter, caramelized onion dip with potato chips and mini ham sandwiches with honey mustard were elevated to red carpet status when served on silver platters. Wine and fruit pair well, so a vintage crystal bowl of grapes and a dried fruit platter was offered. Also, “Dried Fruit Bites” (Adapted from Miss Party’s “Turkish Apricot Bites” recipe. Dried fruits of all types were used with a dollop of the cheese mixture and a toasted pecan on top.) were passed by a server on a gorgeous oyster shell inlaid silver platter. Crystal and silver bowls of nuts, kettle popcorn and other nibbles were available throughout the party and were later replaced with chocolate covered nibbles. All containers were crystal or silver except the cheese platters which were simple, square white china.

Guests could play, ‘Who is Who?’, from a large print of dozens of old Hollywood stars done by the famous Bandleader, Xavier Cugat, and then verify their answers with an answer key. For party favors, small gold and silver boxes wrapped in satin ribbon held dark and milk chocolate covered fruit such as acai berries, pomegranate and raisins. (See “Miss Party’s 10 FAVORite Edible Party Favors“.)

To bring in the ‘old Hollywood’ theme specifically, black and white photographs of old Hollywood stars and starlets were framed in art deco silver frames or beautifully jeweled, ornate silver frames. Miss Party printed photos of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, and ‘the Rat Pack’ together (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.). Several frames were grouped together on tables along with a few mini ‘Oscar’ statuettes. They were scattered throughout the party space, maybe 12-15 altogether, to over-emphasize the ‘old Hollywood’ theme. To bring in a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ humor, a handful of the stars ‘signed’ their prints for the hosts, sending them ‘all their love’ and other fun messages. A few retro-styled black and white pictures were also framed of Miss Party’s daughters to add to the mix. It’s not exactly an inexpensive project up-front, but there are ways to keep costs down and the pictures hit EXACTLY the right note for low-key, tasteful theme decor! Afterwards, the frames make excellent gifts filled with personal photos so, in the end, the project cost is reasonable.

The party was a smashing success, with a great turnout (nearly 90 guests in total)! The atmosphere was glamorous and chic. Servers passed a few hors d’oeuvres on silver trays, while upbeat, classic or jazzy Christmas tunes played and guests happily mingled late into the evening. This year there was also a delightful dessert surprise from her hunny of a hubby –a gorgeous, layered birthday cake to celebrate Miss Party’s 50th birthday which occurred a few days before the party. He even had the icing ribbon color matched to the ‘fig’ invitation! As we always say, it was the best party yet!!

Please, continue to “Holiday Wine and Cheese Party, Part 2” if you’d like to read more about the past themes for this holiday wine and cheese party. There’s just too much to tell in one post!!

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