Over the weekend, Adam and I sat down with our calendars, pens, and glasses of Pinot and got organized on our holiday season schedules. We penciled in dates for each of our company parties, taking the kids to see Santa, dinners with our families, and the couples dinner party we look forward to throwing each year. It may feel premature, but I’ve learned through the years that come December, if something doesn’t make it onto my calendar early, it’s likely to get squeezed out by the other demands of the season. My goal this year is to have an intentional holiday, which means doing a little less but making sure those things I commit to are in line with what I really care about. One of those priorities is to spend quality time with my girl friends, and the challenge is how to get everyone together in a way that’s low maintenance but still feels special. Enter the wine and appetizer party we threw with La Crema just in time for holiday party season. Keep reading for the decor, recipes, and wine pairing tips you need to pull this one off like a pro during the busiest time of the year.

*photos by kate lesueur


One of the beautiful things about a wine and appetizer party is that, with a little extra care put into the presentation, it looks much fancier that it actually is. This spread of food took me less than an hour to put together, but I made sure the simple flavors each packed a punch. Weeknight party, anyone?

A big vintage-inspired champagne bucket is one of my holiday hosting hacks: filled with white wine, it looks so festive on the table and lets guests open another bottle and help themselves.

A few minutes before party time, I poured a glass of Monterey Pinot Gris (my fave) and enjoyed a few minutes to myself. The crisp, minerally flavors are the perfect way to kickoff an evening with friends.

Lots of greenery and metallic details are the quickest way to make a space feel festive and chic. This year, I’m adopting a more-is-more approach when it comes to shine; from the ornaments on the tree to my gift wrap palette, a mix of silver, gold and bronze feels both warm and sophisticated.

My unofficial drink of winter 2017 is La Crema’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. I used to be more of a white wine gal, but this one’s fully converted me to Team Red, especially as the temps have dropped into full on sweater weather.

With notes of red cherry and pomegranate and a little spice, the Pinot Noir has that warm coziness everyone’s looking for on a winter’s night without feeling heavy.

Since all of my appetizers can be served at room temp, I was able to set out everything before guests arrived. Which means I was actually able to eat, drink, and be merry right along with them!

On our appetizer menu:

  • maple-glazed brussels sprouts skewers
  • endive leaves with chèvre, candied walnuts & pomegranates
  • crostini with prosciutto & strawberry preserves
  • crostini with butternut squash & crispy sage
  • sweet potato chips & beet chips with herbed yogurt dip
  • citrus-marinated olives & peppers with orange zest & herbs


Carmen created these “wine-stained” pairing cards to provide suggestions on wines to complement each appetizer. The Monterey Pinot Noir‘s balanced acidity and juicy fruit flavors paired perfectly with my citrus-marinated olives and peppers.

 


It’s hard to find an appetizer that’s easier than crostini, which is really just a fancy way of saying “grilled bread topped with yummy ingredients!” These flavor combinations are delicious for the holiday season, but you can change them up based on whatever you’re craving.

 


For the first crostini, I topped grilled baguette slices with butternut squash, blue cheese and sage, and paired it with La Crema’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. The richly textured floral aromas and citrus flavors of the wine will impress even the pickiest of wine drinkers, and I love this handy guide that shares expert tips on pairing Chardonnay with food.

I love how endive leaves are natural little “boats” for their fillings! I filled these with goat cheese, candied walnuts, and pomegranate seeds, and topped them with a drizzle of honey and torn mint leaves. Get the recipe here and serve with my favorite, Monterey Pinot Gris.


Our other crostini served up a sweeter option with strawberries, thin slices of prosciutto, chopped basil, and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

After everyone had filled their plates, we moved the party to the living room for some major relaxation and catching up around the fireplace.

We also indulged in my favorite activity of the season: a Secret Santa gift exchange! I know, I know — kinda corny, but there really is no better way to celebrate the season with your closest crew than by surprising each other with personal gifts. Plus, drawing names eliminates the pressure (and expense) of getting a gift for everyone.

Carmen sips her Pinot by the tree and savors those magical Christmas vibes.

Jenn can’t wait to see what her Secret Santa wrapped up this year.

Hope that y’all find some time to host a little gathering this year – and remember that it doesn’t take loads of prep (or cash) to make an evening unforgettable! A few bottles of wine, delicious small bites that you could totally pickup from the grocery store, and (most important) great friends are the not-so-secret ingredients that make this season magic.

This post was sponsored by La Crema, the perfect pairing for our holiday wine and appetizer party. Stay tuned for loads more wine pairing inspiration with La Crema through all the seasons, and hop right over here to see our Tuscan-Inspired Dinner Party in my backyard!

21 comments
  1. 1
    Nadine karpinski | November 8, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Where are the brass & marble trays/ elevated stands in the first photo from? Beautiful

    Reply
    • Donna | November 19, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      I found them today at world market

      Reply
  2. 2
    kristen | November 8, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Wonderful appetizer list and party ideas can’t wait to recreate!!!! Would you kindly share where the fireplace garland and mix of ornaments are from? Thank you ladies

    Reply
  3. 3
    mystylevita | November 8, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I love the idea of the vintage bucket! So gorgeous.

    xo Jessica
    My Style Vita

    Reply
  4. 4
    Cynthia Hoyt | November 8, 2017 at 7:50 am

    That butternut squash crostini is giving me ideas for my thanksgiving gathering this weekend!

    Lovely setup, I love La Crema, perhaps I will have to add that into my wine rotation this weekend as well!

    -Cynthia
    http://www.darlingdownsouth.com

    Reply
  5. 5
    Morgan {Boho Beach Babe} | November 8, 2017 at 8:06 am

    I host a ladies’ gift exchange every year and it is one of my favorite traditions. The holidays get crazy so I make it the first weekend in December before all the work parties tend to take over for everyone. It’s nice to get everyone together because it might be January before I see them again! It always ends up being a great night of anywhere from 15-40 girls some years! I am going to do that strawberry prosciutto thing – looks easy and delicious! One tip for these evenings is to ask everyone to bring a dish to share and then you only have to make a couple as the hostess! No one ever minds as I think people enjoy bringing things. http://www.thebohobeachbabe.com

    Reply
  6. 6
    Katherine Kirk | November 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Absolutely love all the ideas from this post! Truly simple yet elegant entertaining. I’m also interested in where you metallic dress is from! Gorgeous!

    Reply
  7. 7
    Morgan | November 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Gorgeous dress Camille is wearing! Could you provide the source?

    Reply
  8. 8
    Charlotte | November 8, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Beautiful party! Appreciate the wine pairing advice from La Crema and look forward to trying some of these festive recipes during the holidays.

    Reply
  9. 9
    Ree | November 12, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    The gold dress is breathtaking!

    Reply
  10. 10
    Ashley | November 14, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Need that dress! Do share!

    Reply
  11. 11
    Senushi | November 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Camille! Where’s the gold dress from??

    Reply
    • Camille Styles | November 19, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Hi! Sooo sorry for the delayed response. Looks like it’s sold out, but here’s the original link and maybe you can find it for sale somewhere else! It’s the Veda Dress by ASTR. http://rstyle.me/n/cugyjgn4xn

      Reply
  12. 12
    Donna Kelley | November 15, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Where are the marble appetizer trays from?

    Reply
  13. 13
    Michelle | November 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I too am interested in the dress.

    Reply
  14. 14
    Natalie | November 18, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Beautiful mirror over the fireplace – can you share where it’s from? Thanks!

    Reply
  15. 15
    Kyranna | December 5, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I love the simplicity of the decor. Everything looks so beautiful from the table of delicious food to the gorgeous antique mirror overlooking the Christmas tree.

    Where is that charming champagne bucket from?

    Happy Holidays!

    xo Kyranna

    Reply
  16. 16
    Mary | December 5, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Where are the recipes for your appetizers? Are they on your site?

    Reply
  17. 17
    Holly | December 9, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Endive appetizer looks great. Could not find the recipe when I clicked on it. Help, please.

    Reply
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