Ted Kennedy Watson’s 12 Tips of Holiday For A Festive Cocktail Party
Setting the party mood with amaryllis and intimate lighting.
When it comes to collecting, decorating, and entertaining, we love to turn to our friend and Of The Moment feature Ted Kennedy Watson, whose best-selling new book, Ted Kennedy’s Guide To Stylish Entertaining came out this past August.
Ted is the owner and creative director of Watson Kennedy, an irresistible store in Seattle that sells a curated mix of vintage and new furniture, housewares and linens, and jewelry and bath products.
Ted knows how to liven up any holiday soiree – so when we decided this is the year to celebrate at home with a few of our nearest and dearest we knew who to turn to for some quick tips and tricks.
Deck the halls with Ted’s twelve tricks to the best holiday cocktail party, below.
Amaryllis is the new mistletoe.
Buy twice as much ice as you think you will need. It almost always gets used. Stash extra bags of ice in your bathtub if storage is an issue.
2. IN BLOOM
Pick up amaryllis & paperwhites weeks ahead so they can be blooming for your party.
An overflowing bowl of pomegranates is a glorious visual at the bar. Offer a signature cocktail that includes pomegranate juice to tie the whole thing together.
Entertaining in style. Ted Kennedy Watson’s tips to throw the most intimate and festive holiday soirees
4. LET THERE BE LIGHT
Pick up a case of white unscented votives and clear glass holders at a restaurant supply store. Light them and put them everywhere in your home. The flicker all about is magical.
5. NAUGHTY OR NICE?
As host, have one question you ask all of your guests that evening while you are chatting with them. Such as, naughty or nice?
The ultimate party menu: baked brie with a hint of jam.
6. BAKE THIS
Bake a whole Brie. Put your favorite jam on top of it. Wrap the whole thing in puff pastry. Bake until puffy. You will have happy guests.
Turn oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat while you assemble this.
You will want one of the two pastry sheets that come in most puff pastry packages. I like the Pepperidge Farm brand, which is what I typically find at our grocer. Any brand is fine.
Follow the instructions on the box for thawing. The sheets are folded into thirds. Unfold and cut one third off, and set aside.
Using a full small Brie, cover the entire top of the cheese round in cherry jam.
Add to that dried cherries.
Moving carefully & quickly, flip it over onto the waiting pastry sheet, so the jammed top is now on the bottom.
Take the pastry and fold all of the sides up and over the Brie, encasing the entire concoction.
Now flip that entire thing over onto a baking sheet. If it is parchment lined, all the better.
Now with that remaining third of a sheet of dough, press out a few decorative images with a cookie cutter or if you are really creative, just use a sharp knife and make something fun. Add those to the top. Almost there.
Now take an egg and crack it into a bowl and add a splash of water to make an egg wash.
Brush the egg mixture over the entire top and sides of the pastry, as this will really help it to brown.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown.
Let sit for a bit before serving, so the cheese is not too hot. It really is best warm, but room temp is fine too.
7. JINGLE BELL ROCK
Create a Spotify playlist for the party. When friends ask, let them know it is theirs to enjoy too.
Listen Here: Ted’s Curated Party Playlists
Think: WHAM with a touch of Madonna.
No-cook nibbles are a party must-have.
8. WARM BROWN SUGAR PECANS
Have lots of no-cook cocktail nibbles set here & there. A big bowl of truffle salted popcorn. Pecans warmed with brown sugar. Bowls of pitted Castelvetrano olives. It is nice to not have to wait in a food line or wait for a passing tray to have a little something with your cocktail.
Stock up on your favorites and be your own bartender.
9. COCKTAILS ANYONE?
Have drinks trays set in several spots, even if you have a bartender. That way guests can top off their wine or sparkling water without having to get back in the drinks line.
10. DRESS CODE
Encourage ‘Holiday Festive Attire’ as it is always fun to see how folks interpret that!
Shop Our Festive Holiday Attire Edit, For Him:
Shop Festive Accessories, For Him:
Shop Our Festive Holiday Attire Edit, For Her:
Shop Festive Accessories, For Her:
11. FIR REAL
A tree scented candle/candles burning instantly sets a holiday mood. Even if you don’t have a tree. My personal favorite, Trudon Fir. Absolute heaven.
Getting in the holiday spirit with a touch of green.
12. GOODY BAG
Have a little parting gift for all. A cello bag with your favorite lip balm in it. A beloved travel candle with matches. Cookies you made. Something that has meaning to you.