Champagne, Cherries and the Stars

I love hosting parties, especially at this festive time. It is beautiful weather to laze around into the evening, enjoying the company of loved ones, celebrating the year that has been and the year that is to come.

This year we had a small dinner party with friends. Everyone arrived mid-afternoon and we got the party started with some champagne and sangria.

White Wine Sangria:

2 Bottles of Dry White Wine (we used a middle of the range Sauvignon Blanc but enlist the help of staff at your local bottle shop if you aren’t sure)

¾ cup of Vodka (peach flavoured would be a nice fruity addition)

750ml of Soda Water

300g of Watermelon

1 Punnet of Strawberries

3 Limes

Pour the wine and vodka into a large bowl or large glass drink dispenser. Puree the watermelon and half the strawberries then pour into the bowl. Stir and add lime juice and soda water to taste. We added slices of lemon, lime and strawberries plus some blueberries. These were all in season and added to the beautiful freshness of this drink.

We had a drinks table set up with everyone’s favourites. Perfect for helping yourself through the night.

We nibbled on cheese platters and a delicious bruschetta, authentically made by our Italian friend.

It was such an easy appetizer for everyone to assemble when they liked, ensuring there was not a soggy piece of pane di casa in sight!

The boys got the little camp BBQ going and it was time to start cooking.

We had a number of sun chairs and fluffy towels arranged for our guests to lounge on.

There may have been a slight issue with over-fueling the fire but luckily no one was too close, not even Mr. Teddy.

The day before, J and I had made individual wreaths for place settings using native Christmas bush and holly.

First I spray painted the holly gold (to add some contrast to the red and green of the Christmas bush) and left to dry. Meanwhile, I stripped a lot of the green foliage off the stems of the bush, helping to reduce some of its bulk.

We used a fine, malleable wire (similar to florists wire) to wrap around the stem of the bush and to tame the flowers into a wreath shape. Every so often we added a piece of holly and continued wrapping. To finish, just wrap the last bit of wire tightly around and tuck in underneath the stem.

If you don’t have these types of foliage available to you, no need to worry you can use anything from roses to branches of pine. I am thinking of trying a floral crown using the same technique. Will keep you posted!

The table was set outside under the stars and the buffet of food was ready and waiting inside.

The lighting from the candles and strings of fairy lights was just perfect. Slightly dim and romantic but, bright enough that you could see whether it was turkey or ham on your fork.

We were almost bursting at the seams but it was not time to give in yet. Dessert was awaiting us.

Decadently gooey chocolate brownies and tangy raspberry cheesecake were accompanied by an enormous tower of cherries.

That is one thing I must say, never underestimate the power of and delight that perfectly ripe and delicious fruit can bring.

The party demolished at least half of the 5kg box of cherries we picked up at the early markets.

We made our way inside, as the Christmas beetles and cool breeze set in. Obviously, it was time for the crowd favourite, a game of Heads Up.

As the night went on, the need for coffee grew and what is more perfect to serve with a midnight coffee than homemade biscuits.

I used different shaped star cutters and once cooled, used melted chocolate to assemble a ‘starry’ tree. Drizzling chocolate over the top and using cachous was a simple yet effective way of decorating these already tasty treats.

Although they were large, each guest greedily gobbled one up by the time they said goodnight, which was much to our pleasure.