Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner and every day is vibrant with expectation… and a touch of holiday season angst as we juggle the daily routine, shopping for presents and that all-Italian preoccupation that gets lost in translation: “la bella figura”. There will be plenty of opportunities for family gatherings and partying with friends: how can we make them as beautiful, stylish and original as possible? (That’s “bella figura”.)
Considering that we are not exactly going to be fresh as daisies when we emerge from the pre-festive frenzy, why not go for some lightweight yet luscious Christmas cocktail, aperitif or buffet with plenty of tidbits and minimal stress levels?
All you need is your loved ones and buddies, a Ventuno Experience Box and a couple of friendly tips.
Setting the table: traditional or modern?
It is no chance that “setting the table” is a metaphor for “making a future outcome possible”: your table layout is a crucial factor in the success of your soirée.
– Those of you who favor tradition will opt for a gold or red table cloth with matching napkins and plates and a centerpiece showcasing such Christmassy themes as holly, mistletoe or miniature poinsettias;
– If you want nature to be your inspiration, why not choose a natural theme set off by an ecru tablecloth and arts-and-crafts decorations you’ve made yourself: star anise, cinnamon and sliced oranges that can double as delightful napkin rings, woven together with raffia fiber and hot glue;
– “Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance.” If you agree with the Pulitzer-winning journalist, go for a total white look and you’ll have a stylishly understated table: white tablecloth, white porcelain dishware and a crystal centerpiece with touches of white lace, candles and flowers to enrich and enhance your overall effect;
– Apropos of candles: you can never go wrong with these, whatever the look you are aiming for. Quality ones come in a variety of hues; select the best for the style you’ve chosen and place them in glass jars that will keep them safe and reflect their warm glow – and your evening’s.
Music will set the tone for the evening. Classic or modern, as long as you take great care in picking your tune and your mood, also considering the size of your gathering. The livelier pieces will be fine for small groups but soft background music best suits larger numbers, where conversation is apt to be disrupted by an overly intrusive score.
To give or not to give?
The gift dilemma is easily resolved: when you host a special celebration in your home, each guest should receive a token memento of the evening, even if they do not top your nearest-and-dearest list. Italian specialties like artisanal cookies, taralli, chocolates and spices are safe and thoughtful choices even when you are not familiar with a particular guest’s tastes. Everybody everywhere loves a gourmet gift.
Scrumptious simplicity for the buffet
For a truly happy aperitif and sparkling soirée, abound with those whimsical treats you would not find in an everyday meal. Variety of choice is crucial with a varied guestlist, so everyone can find something they enjoy – particularly if some guests are vegetarian or vegan. Quality of ingredients is just as vital. Another thing to bear in mind is that buffets mean standing as you eat, so bite-sized finger food comes really handy.
A few examples? Raw vegetables you can dunk into creamy dips like hummus (pureed chickpeas), mini-bruschetta with tomatoes or Tuscan chicken livers, tiny quiches, bite-sized smoked fish, a classic “Panettone Gastronomico” (which is a savory version of the Milanese specialty, sliced and stuffed with whatever you like: tuna, smoked salmon, prosciutto, olives, anchovies, mozzarella etc.), liqueur glasses filled with pureed soup or cereal chowder… Use your imagination, no holds barred save for naturalness, authenticity and wholesomeness.
And don’t forget to wash the holiday sparkle down with more holiday sparkle, like the fresh pink perlage of “Luna Nascente” extra dry spumante from pure Frappato grapes whose fruity, intense fragrance is a match made in heaven with all the rest of our Aperitivo Sicilia Experience Box.
Speaking of which: you can save yourself a good deal of work by dipping into our regional Aperitivo Experience Boxes for your Christmas buffet. Browse through a wide variety of options for some festive inspiration and… a little help from your friends.