Not all parties are created equal.
Meet Steven Saucer, a loan officer and Charles Brickell, a local Realtor. They’re both successful busy young businessmen and doting caregivers to their two min-pins, Samson and Dalila. But what they do for fun is to entertain. Anyone who is lucky enough to make the guest list for one of their parties has the chance to experience an evening one only dreams about. Since this is the season when most of us do lots of hosting and attending of holiday parties, I’d love to share Steven and Charles’ Winter Wonderland with you.
A Royal Affair
While parts of Orange County are famous for their casual style, these parties are anything but. When you arrive, you feel like a treasured guest and are treated royally. After walking through a lane of very realistic snow blown by machine right before the party, Charles meets you at the door with a sparkling flute of chilled champagne while he leads you into the dazzling space created by Steven and a rotating crew of helpers. All of your senses are engaged. Champagne bubbles tingle your nose, lightly scented candles fragrance the air and Steven’s custom playlist provides a perfect musical background.
Champagne in hand, you enter their home marveling at the ingenuity and attention to detail. I have seen this party grow over a few years as Steven adds layer and layer to his design. Not satisfied with an elegant table, he always includes the surrounding space and allows for movement among his guests. Cocktails are usually in the living room around the towering red and white tree, decorated by Charles. The living room fireplace hearth displays a selection of childhood toys lovingly preserved over the years. Guests have more than enough time to mingle, get to know one another and to anticipate what is to come.
Let it Snow
A new addition to the party décor is a white area rug meant to evoke a feeling of snow on the ground. The dining room’s large windows are decorated both inside and out with trees, twigs, sparkly lights and snow. There’s up lighting, down lighting and everything in between to draw your eyes and imagination to the winter scene outside. As we are seated, our attention turns to the table. Charles’ grandmother’s crystal along with some modern pieces add interest to the overall tablescape. Tablecloths are all custom designed by Steven who travels to L.A.’s garment district for unusual fabrics. The winter table has layers of white satin covered with beaded sheer organza and white “ermine.” Chairs are embellished as well. From feather boas on the tops of the chairs to full satin and bead covers not a detail is overlooked including a personal menu describing Charles’ feast.
Most of the cooking is done by Charles with the exception of dessert. Because I am curious, I manage to take a peek into the kitchen to see if there is not an army of caterers behind the scenes and I can assure you there is not. There is, however, usually a server or two to help get the vast array of dishes on and off the table smoothly. One of the most charming things Steven and Charles do is to present a dish or two themselves lest you feel like it’s just a fancy catered affair. As he pours, Steven also gives us a short description of the wines we will have with our meal. Another nice touch is the seating. Steven and Charles always place themselves at opposite ends of the table and switch right before dessert so they get a chance to chat with all the guests.
After dessert and coffee Samson and Dalila are welcomed back into their home from their sleeping quarters in the laundry room. Cheerfully greeting everyone and wondering what’s left for them, they are the furry signals that a fabulous evening is coming to an end.
While most of us don’t have the strength to do parties of this scale, we can take one or two ideas and incorporate them into our next event. Greeting guests with the drink of the evening is a great way to welcome folks into your home. Taking time to be sure to chat with all of your guests is another. As far as decorating goes, anything from a few sprigs of greenery to elaborate tablescapes will set the scene for a memorable evening and make your guests feel special. Whatever you do, careful planning will ensure you enjoy your party as much as your guests.