Just when you thought the holiday festivities were winding down…it all starts ramping up again for the revelry of New Year’s Eve. Thought I’d share some inspiration from a holiday dinner party I hosted a couple weeks ago that embraces a slightly more rustic feel – I think it would be absolutely perfect for December 31st. I was so excited when my hubby told me we were hosting his new company’s first holiday party at our house this year, and it gave me a chance to try out a look that’s more masculine that what I’d normally do. (I mean seriously, most of my tables look a little more like this.) The biggest challenge was seating 14 at our dining table…we managed, but it was definitely cozy! Keep reading to see what we served for our Italian feast, and the simple little steps I took to accomplish this look… 

First up: the antipasto. Though I normally wouldn’t dream of setting the table without flowers, for this party, the abundant spread of cheeses, meats, bread, wine and olives became the centerpiece. All you need to complete this, other than the gourmet ingredients, is oversized wooden cutting boards, pretty little bowls and cheese knives.

I decided to keep our white oak table bare, except for simple kraft paper placemats that Chanel and I stamped each guest’s name onto. I added white restaurant-style dishes, these napkins and menu cards that I made by running kraft-colored card stock through a laser printer. For the dinner menu, we served an Italian feast with five small courses: an arugula & pomegranate salad that was inspired by a recent meal at Zuni Café, linguine with fresh tomatoes & mozzarella, butternut squash ravioli, chicken marsala with haricot verts…and for dessert, trays full of lots of little sweet bites like tiramisu and bread pudding.

We stamped little cards with the names of each cheese and wine so guests could appreciate the pairings. It turned out to be such a fun night, full of way too much food, wine and laughter. I personally can’t think of a better way to ring in 2012, can you?

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