As seen on Amber and Muse
What is intimate, makes a statement, and tastes as delicious as baked prosciutto soup and caramel pastry? How about four friends and their festive brunch? 2020 has been a challenging year for soirees of any kind, from weddings to special gatherings it has certainly been the year we downsized almost everything. I say "almost" because when it came to style and celebrating something as meaningful as spending time with our favorite people we begged to differ.
THE OCCASION: A beautiful dinner for four besties who wished to exchange gifts, engage in lively chatter, toast pretty and enjoy a curated brunch, in other words, everything to set the mood and keep spirits up! Now despite the dilemmas and disorder lockdown imposed, it did push our inspiration and took us back to "needs" that were less in fashion until now. You see, inviting people into one's home and hosting them for a meal is actually a gesture of generosity. It's way more personal than going to a restaurant as it is far warmer and intimate, and it allows friends to feel truly welcomed and cared for, that is why we made sure we did things old-school.
ALL IN PRINT: We began by designing and sending invitations, while at the same time creating calligraphy place cards, matching calligraphy gift wrapping, menus, and little gifts at each seat. To that, we called Manousenia Design who brought about wonderful calligraphy and prints, gift tags, paper boxes, and incredibly nostalgic suites. Our wish was to make everything super-personalized and more formal despite the relatively languid rhythm of our event, because that is a flawless hostess' job really, to create ambiance from the first fold to the last.
INTENTIONAL GIFTING: Especially when you entertain at home in a closed circle, gifting intentionally is surefire to make your guests feel cherished. That is why Narcissus Fine Art and MaryGro created different gifts for each of the ladies. From pine-cone resin paperweights and a pinewood ink-pen for the writer of the group to a handmade art set that included brushes and ceramic palettes for the artist, to a set of vintage spoons for the tea-lover and an array of scented candles for the zen-spirited guest each one received a piece they would truly appreciate. To top it all, we sought out an exceptional lucky charm dubbed "Aether". As the creator clued us in "Aether is the fifth element, the quintessence" and as this brunch was all about the quintessential, aka being with those that truly matter, it was a perfect addition, a fifth gift one for each and oh so meaningful.
HOMEBOUND GOODNESS is all about what makes us feel wonderful indoors so we drew inspiration from the furnishings, objects d' art, and dining room space palette to set the table. As there was a lot of white dominating the dining room, accented by wickerlike chairs and a vintage oak wardrobe, we opted to set the table with easy, accessible stoneware in speckled concrete grey. We matched them to golden flatware and gold-rimmed drinking glasses, natural linen napkins in pebble and added a winter pitch with pine-cone place card holders in gold. These hues coordinate with practically every space and exude a sense of comfort and understated luxury that is so eagerly sought out in winter.
WINTERTIME BLOOMS: Because most people enjoy social gatherings during warm weather seasons what seems to escape their notice is that many perennials, annual blooms, and shrubs actually put on a show in the heart of winter, blooming beautifully long before the ground thaws and the snows melt. Maria Voudouri combed foraged forest treasures to seasonal flowers, seeds, and textural greenery to create a profusion of winter floral arrangements for the tablescape. We were instantly taken by the warmth of chestnuts, pines, and cotton buds paired to white dahlias, cedar, white cyclamen, Lunaria, Symphoricarpos, and white cosmos. The three centerpieces got nestled in white porcelain vases from a personal collection, said the girls. It is those personal elements that make everything more meaningful. Although the florals were designed to fit a luxurious brunch, they also look spontaneous and relaxed.
TO BRUNCH LADIES: One of the hardest parts about organizing a celebration at home is figuring out what to plan for the menu. Not every guest has a palate for the sweet or the salty, the sour or the spicy, that is why we wanted to give this company of ladies a more inclusive menu that would include flavors they all love. For the savory, we enlisted the executive chef of Mamalis Catering who arrived early packed with goodies to create a special menu based on edible blooms, quail eggs, pumpkin soup with prosciutto Cotto, salty muffins with caramelized and baked ham, shepherd's pies, c Canapés with goat cheese, salmon pates, avocado, and shrimp, as well as a ham and cheese roll with fresh herbs. Sweet Art Stories on the other hand-curated a sweet menu centering around a butterscotch cake with chestnut pecorino and ricotta filling cream, a Galette des Rois (Cake of the Kings or Twelfth Night Cake) topped with fresh blueberries, dark chocolate oreo truffles, and mini bundt cakes with lemon, vanilla, edible glitter dust, and cinnamon.
FESTIVE LIBATION: There cannot be a festive mood without something to help a girl crew get a little more in the "spirit". Instead of classic cocktails of mimosas or big-batch punch, we sought after something more unique but also incredibly delicious. To accompany the festive brunch of savory and sweet selections, we suggested a bottle of amber-hued Liastos, a multi-awarded dessert wine from Limnos Wines.
What we loved most about this mini affair was that it became the perfect opportunity for our ladies to focus on a moment just for themselves. It only took a few days to plan, but it elevated the entire experience of giving and receiving. A lockdown situation may be quite demanding at home, especially for mothers, and we were so happy to be able to give them a sublimely feminine time together. We are thankful to our photographer, Lefteris Kalambokas who captured these precious moments of friendship and bonding.
Wedding planning, design & styling: Phaedra Liakou | Photographer: Lefteris Kalampokas | Flowers: Maria Voudouri | Stationery: Manousenia Design | Sweets: Sweetartstories | Styling goods: Narcissus Fine Art, Marygro Art, Silent M Boutique | Catering: Mamalis Catering | Creative Direction: Setty Lepida | Special thanks: Carinaria Candles