This year started swimmingly, only to be bland and boring later. While we still adjust to these forced norms and regulations, home celebrations are the only way to re-live the good times. And if you worry about the latest trends and ideas, here are some easy-to-implement ways to elevate your home celebrations and festivities with higher spirits and hope!
By: Nikita Vivek Pawar
Posted on: December 9, 2020
Celebrating festivals and get togethers with anyone outside is a risk - unfortunate but true. Curtailing the number of guests might be hard and awkward, but such is our new environment, until we have an effective vaccine. But that doesn’t hamper our mood and spirit to host parties and celebrations, specially with the umpteen birthdays and anniversaries we have missed this year. As history repeats itself, mails are the best way to send your cheers. Until then, welcome the much-awaited next year with those special few, in a stylish, beautiful, intimate way.
Set the ambience right
Making the best from waste or little things is much more heart-felt than an elaborate setup. This not only makes the décor personal and friendly, but also contributes to being environmentally conscious and responsible. “Use flowers, vintage dishes, get creative with the serving dishes that you use. Keep things simple and don’t crowd plates. Think about colours and what is complementary and contrasting. You don’t need to over complicate things to make them look pretty. I’ve used old watering cans and filled them with pebbles and served churros rolls on skewers in the past so honestly draw inspiration from anywhere,” advises Rachel Goenka, CEO & Founder of The Chocolate Spoon Company.
Merging farm fresh flowers with vintage dishes may do the party trick. Image ©: Rachel Goenka
If you would like a soothing and pleasant evening with your loved ones, Chef Santosh at Aman-i-Khas, India recommends a classic Aman style house party with simple, feel-good factors and components. “No electric light, candle and ghee lamp-only décor with seasonally grown flowers from the flower market to grace the place, and a Jal-Tarang artist to set the mood. Food should be organically grown from the farmers market, while salads, dips and extensive barbecue would be idle recommendations for a relaxed evening.”
Elements such as fairy lights in bottles, lanterns and candles work like magic and are extremely cost-effective. Flowers or even green plants can add beauty to space. Using appropriate vases beautifully add to the décor. Bhavnesh Sawhney, co-founder, FB Celebrations Pvt. Ltd., advises “It is essential to make the perfect first impression by enhancing the entrance of your home. The next point of focus for décor should be the table, whether it is a sit-down dinner or grazing stations. Styling food tables with elements such as flowers, greens, candles, candy or wooden elements make them Instagram-able features at your party.”
When in doubt, the designer suggests using classic colours where accents of green or black help create dimensions and depth in the décor. Using fresh elements helps elevate the décor on a new level. Fresh flowers like tulips and hydrangeas work best for contemporary set up. Citrus fruits, fresh greens also add a lively accent to the tables. Try your hand at origami to make beautiful paper flowers and birds. “For Indian setups, we recommend using brass vases and plates along with Mogra flowers to accentuate your home décor. Using banana leaves to this floral arrangement can work as a unique twist too,” explained Mr. Sawhney.
The life of the party is always food!
The way to almost everyone’s heart is through the stomach! Having a well-planned spread of food, confectioneries, desserts, and drinks is imperative for a great party. Chef Sameer, head chef at Lodha Group, insists on preparing as much food as possible a day prior, including the dessert. “Prepare a mise en place, setting out all of the ingredients, sauces and garnishes you will need to finish your dishes with a cutting board and good knives. Line up small bowls and fill them with everything you will need. An hour before everyone joins in, arrange all the food preparations on the table, with the pots that will help you finish the soiree delicacies,” says the experienced Chef. He further advises it’s better to stick to one cuisine instead of trying multiple.
Image © Lodha Group
Going beyond just advises, we thought of recommending some dishes to our dear readers, so that your home celebrations can make it to Facebook’s 2020 highlights!
The Kolkata Style Kathi Roll by Anupam Gulati, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, is a dish with a great mix of flavours, textures and innovation. “Since it’s the season of festivities, I would recommend a fusion Indian menu with influences of Asian cuisines. Warm spices like cinnamon, star anise, and black pepper are intrinsic to Indian and various Asian cuisines, and work very well in creating new tastes and also fuelling the body with the immunity boost it needs.”
Kolkata Style Kathi Roll
While we miss the bartender theatrical, this concoction by Deepak Shettigar, Beverage Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, will be your saving grace. He recommends serving a punch cocktail when entertaining. “It allows you to have drinks batched and ready to be served instead of having to make each guest their own drink – which could be cumbersome to those playing host,” he says. He recommends a delicious and quick to make Sunset Punch by Philip Bischoff, Four Seasons Beverage Manager & Beverage Ambassador for Asia.
If you would like to have a more mature drink for your celebration, Chef Sameer recommends the Apple Whiskey Sour.
Apple Whiskey Sour
||Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed. Garnish with a slice of orange.|
Ms. Goenka loves infusing different flavours in cocktails “There’s so much that can be made at home! I love infusing alcohol with flavours like vanilla, and orange peel and those make a great base for cocktails. Margaritas are super simple to make. Any cocktails with less sugar is always a good idea to use fresh fruit juices as much as possible to keep cocktails on the lighter side.”
Serving tips for a delectable feast
It’s often said we eat with our eyes first. Plating and presentation are not only imperative for an attractive visual appearance, but it also sets a mood to the celebration. Matching your plating with the décor and the theme of the party only make it more cohesive. For example, if you are planning a minimalist décor with accents and highlights, Aman-i-Khas’ Chef Santosh advises using old metals like Kansa or handmade crockery for the evening, ensuring right portion sizes, clean and simple plating, with easy to eat food being the key.
Using indigenous, ethnic crockery will give your food presentation a distinct flavor. Image © Aman-i-Khas
A rustic farm to table presentation by decking up your table with microgreens, pea shoots, and mustard cress will add that extra touch of creativity. Not only are these easy to grow and dense in nutrients, but they are also easily available and can be grown at home in all kinds of beautiful looking containers. It’s all about attention to detail!
You could also unleash your inner Picasso by using sauces and purees in you plating, from a brushstroke to artistic splashes, from simple geometric lines to circles. Purees definitely up your presentation game! Another way to make your food presentation interesting is by adding a variety of freshly made dips and toppings on wooden planks and platters.
For cocktails you could add fresh herbs like dill, basil, lemongrass and lemon juice, served over ice with any vodka to give it a fresh punch.
Mr. Sawhney also recommends using bento boxes, bowls and funky styles of serving without thinking about any specific colours for a casual setting. “This year, the only trend is to remain extremely hygienic, therefore doing away with the classic buffet is a good idea. Replace your serving style to meals for one that does not promote sharing of food or having too many hands touch it.”
The changing face of celebrations, coupled with lockdown guidelines, will never hamper our undying spirit of togetherness, hope and happiness. While enjoying, this festive season is all about being responsible and conscious. And so, let’s join hands as we end the year to hope for health and freedom soon!