The holidays are peeking around the corner. Wow! We made it through 2020! *happy dance*
It’s just so nice to think that we’re almost done with this heck of a year and we can finally move on to the next year with new hope.
HOWEVER- I’m sure you want to end this year with a Bang!
So, if you’re exploring different ways to celebrate holiday dinners this year, I have some useful tips for you.
It’s time to UP your Christmas dinner game by hosting a party A la Française!
I am French, so I definitely know a thing or two (or three or four or five) on how to execute a stylish and relaxed French inspired holiday dinner party.
Here’s a few things I can share with you to successfully create an experience of a French Holiday Dinner Party.
- Let’s set the mood.
First things, first. If you want your holiday celebration to be like that of the great people of France, you need to set the mood.
Dim and low lighting in your dining area or wherever you plan to host this dinner in your home or garden is a good way to start. Aperitif (more on this in a sec) usually starts around 6PM and working on your lighting really sets the mood.
It’s also important to awaken all the senses to capture the true feel of the celebration. Delicate citrus and clove or lavender scented candles around the area is great, floral arrangement with fresh flowers and some greens are another.
A lovely table setting with beautiful pieces of flatware, bowls of festive treats like berries and vanilla bourbon macarons AND a charcuterie board filled with cheese and saucisson
to enjoy with champagne later.
Of course, music. The ultimate mood setter. You can’t go wrong with a mix of French and English holiday music. Here’s Ajiri Aki’s holiday playlist to keep in the background on a loop for your French party.
*Ajiri Aki is the creator of Madame De La Maison
- Decoration d’interieur and a Beautiful Table Setting
Now that we’ve set the ambiance, it’s time to decorate!
For the receiving (or general) area, we want to be able to tell a story through our decoration choices.
My suggestion is to have a 3-color palette. You can veer away from the usual gold, red and green holiday colors. Why not try monochrome hues or pastels for a change?
Once you made your decision on this, stick to it. I swear it helps.
‘Tis the season to bring out some family heirloom accents or antique pieces you got from flea markets. These are great conversation starters.
“French” styling your home requires a mix of vintage and modern pieces. Think of a modern piece of art surrounded by antiques or an old regency style chair topped with fabric with modern patterns.
It screams of creative contrast and French vibes!
Your main aim in decorating (you know, apart from showing your massive creativity and style 😉 ) is to make your guests feel warm and welcome.
What is a French holiday party WITHOUT a beautiful table setting?!
As I mentioned before, it really helps if you stick to a color palette. This will make it easy for you to style your table with floral arrangements and decide on a magnificent table centerpiece.
For a more rustic feel, use linen tablecloths. This is the perfect time to bring out your “reserved for special occasion” ceramic flatware, NO PLASTICS PLEASE. Bust out your impressively beautiful serving platters, dessert spoon & forks and tea sets!
Fresh flowers with Christmas greens like eucalyptus and pines are good choices. If you chose to have a tamer color scheme (earth colors perhaps) for your table- you can go for bold, vibrant colors on your flowers.
Table ornaments and floral arrangements should NEVER hinder your guests from interacting with each other – make them at eye-level. Remember, we want them to have a wonderful experience while having a great meal.
Rule of thumb for table setting- Go for elegant but not stuffy.
Oh, did I mention candles?! Tea candles on small bowls or taper candles on antique candlestick holders. Le chic.
I don’t need to remind you that wine is an essential staple (also oysters & Foie-Gras) of your French style party- which brings me to my next point:
Set up your table with 2 wine glasses. One for red or white and the other for champagne. Your guests need to have the option to choose from red or white to pair with their meals.
Expert tip (french edition): Champagne is served with the dessert.
- The Food
We all make a spectacle about our holiday dinners, however, it’s safe to say that the French take it to the next level.
To have the same experience, you have to know the key difference: When to serve.
Meaning, it’s not served and laid ALL out on the table in one go. Meals are brought out in a certain order, one at a time.
Aperitif, Starters, Main, Cheese & Wine, Dessert & Champagne.
Begin the party with a French Apero.
Apero is short for Aperitif – it’s a pre-dinner drink served around 6PM together with some hors d’oeuvres. It’s a chance for you and your guests to catch up on each other while snacking on some chips and sipping alcoholic drinks to prep you for the next part of the meal.
Here’s a list of what you can serve for Apero
- Muscat, Pastis or Kir OR freshly squeezed fruit juice
- Tapenades and a nice bread with olives
- Rillettes and saucisson
- Veggie crisps
Appetizers! The most common food served are:
- Foie Gras on toasts
- Smoked Salmon
We need a pause before having the main course. It’s purpose is to cleanse our palette and aid in digestion before the next meal is served.
Le Trou Normand literally translates to “ a Norman Hole”.
It’s usually a shot of Calvados – an apple liqueur or a lime sorbet with vodka.
You and your guests have been eating bite sizes of food throughout the night, so keep in mind that whatever you choose to serve for the main course should be significantly smaller than what you would normally serve on an American holiday dinner.
The traditional choices are-
Roasted Beef, Turkey, Ham or Chicken
Broccolini (usually cooked with bacon)
Any green salad
Cheese, Dessert & Champagne
Typically, cheeses are brought out after the main course right before dessert and champagne.
Cheeses you can serve can go from goat cheese, brie, camembert to compte and raclette.
Here’s a good list of French cheeses to serve.
And for dessert, it’s imperative to serve Buche De Noel (translation: Yule Log)
It’s the French grand tradition to serve this cake for dessert on Christmas dinner and it’s usually chocolate. Here’s a recipe you can follow.
Although, it should not stop you from being creative and maybe try making other varieties like coffee or mocha or vanilla. With booze. Or not. Your choice. 🙂
- The Experience
‘Tis the time to enjoy some wine, good food, and company.
The French make a spectacle of their Christmas dinners because for them sharing a table of good food and wine with people they love is what makes up the essence of the holidays and not the gifts.
So, take your time and live in the moment.
There’s nothing more special than sharing stories and having meaningful conversations over cheese and wine.
After all, it’s not all about the impeccably delicious meal that was served, it’s also about the experience of having a deeper connection with everyone around the table on this wonderful time of the year.
Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup.
You can look at it this way, since traveling isn’t safe (yet) at the moment, you can definitely experience your dream destination by bringing in their culture right to your home.
We, at JD Agency Experience would love to bring you an evening of good food with style and an unforgettable dinner experience with the destination of your choice. Come check our brand new service and BOOK NOW!