Hosting Tips

A Party That’s All About Eating Dessert First

By Camille Styles
amazing croquembouche!

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is that every day is cause for celebration; instead of waiting around for a big milestone to throw a party, there’s a reason to get festive every day between now and New Year’s. In that spirit, we’re raising our glass with Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur as part of its #BecauseNoReason campaign: a playful reminder to celebrate everyday moments. I hosted a lush dessert party that engages the senses with unexpected elements and major deliciousness — click through the slides for our fun and easy tips to elevate a normal night into one that’s unforgettable, any time of year.

*photos by Kate LeSueur

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The enjoyment I get from setting a beautiful table is so worth the extra effort it takes. The color palette for this party was inspired by the vibrant shades of raspberries, blackberries and blood oranges. I used all of those fruits, plus others, in a lush edible “runner” that ran down the length of the table. The only secret to creating something like this is abundance — the more fruit, the better, so invite your guests to fill up paper bags with fruit to take home as favors at the end of the night.

I’m a firm believer that the holiday season is a time to indulge (if not now, when?!), and what better opportunity than at a “dessert and cocktails” party? Chambord’s #BecauseNoReason campaign is a welcome reminder to celebrate all of life’s moments — just because they’re beautiful, fun, inspiring, delicious, and unexpected.

I love the classic vibe of a Christmas cracker at each place setting, and the bright fuchsia wrapping gives it an unexpected twist. To make, just tuck candies or small gifts into a toilet paper tube, cover with tissue or wrapping paper, tie with velvet ribbon for a luxe touch, and trim the ends. Add a handwritten tag to make these crackers play double duty as place cards and party favors.

When it comes to party cocktails, I’m all about recipes with only 2 or 3 ingredients so that I can mix, serve, and then mingle with my guests instead of playing mixologist all night.

I mixed up Chambord Kir Royale for an easy cocktail that’s luxurious and special. To make, add 1/2 ounce Chambord to each glass, then top with champagne, and add a fresh raspberry and orange zest for garnish.

I love using stemless flutes that make champagne feel like more of an “everyday” drink than something to only be brought out on special occasions.

I made a croquembouche! I’ve always been enamored with this classic French tower of cream puffs, so I finally decided to try my hand at making one myself. I picked up a styrofoam cone from a local bakeshop that served as my base, then used toothpicks to attach cream puffs, flowers, rosemary, and greenery into the cone until I achieved the lush, decadent look I was going for.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of party hosting, it’s to keep the focus on just a handful of details that pack a major punch and leave a lasting impression in guests’ minds. Instead of trying to do 10 things well, think about those 2 or 3 details that will be memorable…

This croquembouche was not only a delicious dessert — it made a striking table centerpiece that elevated the entire scene. And the process of making it was incredibly fun for me, too.

It felt decadent and a little naughty to disassemble the table centerpieces and runner as we filled our plates with sweets. But after all, flowers and food possess a fleeting beauty, and they’re best enjoyed immediately. (Just think: what would Marie Antoinette have done?)

By the way, no need to spend a fortune on flowers and greenery for your croquembouche: we used inexpensive grocery store carnations and rosemary, and when grouped together in vivid colors en masse, they gave a surprising sense of luxury.

For dipping the cream puffs, I served a store-bought dark chocolate sauce and a homemade Raspberry Chambord Sauce. To make, I combined 1 pint raspberries. 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon Chambord in a small saucepan, and let it cook down on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Then I pureed in a blender and chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.

2015 is coming to a close, my dears, so Carpe Diem! There’s no good reason to wait another day to invite a few friends over, set the table with your prettiest dishes and a few blooms, and raise your glasses to the season of sweets and festivity.