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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Oct 27, 2020

Intimate Holiday Gatherings: Something to Look Forward To

By Claudia M. Greenhut

While holiday parties are unlikely this year, there’s something special about an intimate family dinner that we can look forward to. While we long for the day all our favorite people will be in one room together again, here are some ways to get your holiday party fix with a smaller, quieter gathering this year.


More Time with Friends and Family

You can spend more quality time with each of your guests at your holiday dinner this year because there are fewer of them. At every party I have ever hosted, my biggest regret is that I never spend as much time as I would like with each guest. Thanks to 2020 (said no one ever!), that’s a problem of the past.


Fewer Guests Means Less Stress

The time, energy and money it takes to plan a big holiday party takes a lot out of you. Every time I throw a party, it’s almost certain I will end up sick the following week. In addition, I have always found it hard to focus on the details, when I’m focused on quantity. I’ve always had such admiration for friends who are able to pull off those little touches like a signature drink, favors or customized place settings on a massive scale. This year, I vow to pay attention to the little things; the décor, the glassware, quality wine and food, the music and maybe I’ll even add in a signature drink.


Break Out the Fine China

I can count the times I’ve used my china in my life, mostly because I never have enough settings for guests, and the dishes aren’t dishwasher safe. Who has time or energy to wash dishes after a party? I’ve wanted to purchase holiday dinnerware for years, and this year’s the year! I’ve been eyeing dishwasher safe, classic options such as Williams Sonoma’s Botanical Harvest Thanksgiving Stoneware or the Plymouth set from Pfaltzgraff.


Focus on Ambience

The key ingredient to any successful gathering – music! Add in a live concert in the background from your favorite artist. Carnegie Hall offers a free streaming concert series, “Live with Carnegie Hall,” with performances and interviews with iconic artists such as Judy Collins and Rosanne Cash. Michael Buble’s 2011 Home For Christmas is another favorite in our home.


Outdoor Dining in the Fall

Consider having your holiday get together during the day, when the sun is shining. In October and November, we still get the occasional days with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. This year, I’m considering purchasing a propane patio heater and getting a few more outdoor meals in the books. If it’s too chilly to dine outside, consider having dessert outdoors with s’mores. We used a clay chiminea to roast s’mores with some friends recently, and it was a great time!


Less Food, Better Menu

With larger parties, chicken and pastas are usually menu staples. Since you may be having fewer guests this year, consider higher quality menu options like filet mignon and halibut, and bring out the expensive champagne. The New York Strip streak from Monmouth Meats and Halibut from Lusty Lobster are two of our recent favorites. Break out the Moet you have been saving for a special occasion. This is that occasion!