So every Christmas, since I was about 15 years old, I get a bunch of friends together and we make gingerbread houses, out of graham crackers. It’s always a stressful but fun event (if you haven’t done these before, getting those walls to stay up using just frosting is a bit of a challenge!), and it’s gotten more fun with the introduction of wine.
Last year was the first year that I tried to do this along with a baby (Jake was 4 months old), and I gotta admit, it just wasn’t as enjoyable, haha. Other friends have babies as well, and keeping them away from all the candy and frosting is just not really worth the satisfaction of seeing your completed gingerbread house! I’m excited to get this tradition going again once the kids get a little older and they can make gingerbread houses of their on, but for now we decided to switch to an adults only holiday dinner. So this year we had our very first Winter Formal!
I was able to book a reservation over a month in advance with Cucina Enoteca at the Irvine Spectrum, and I worked closely with their event coordinator, Ruth, to make sure I could bring all sorts of little details and decorations. I got started with centerpieces and decorations far enough in advance so I wouldn’t be freaking out the day before!
Found these plastic reindeer at Michael’s, and I’m pretty sure I snatched up the last ones in the whole area. I went back to several stores to try to buy more and they were all gone. Glad I bought the ones I did when I did! I added a little silver spray paint and they looked great!
I collected branches and pine cones and did a bottom layer of white spray paint, then I used spray adhesive to get some good layers of epsom salts on there, then did a final layer of glitter to give them a little glimmer. I ended up putting the branches in two separate clear vases to have to large centerpieces, and they looked great! I will say that these need to be done close to the event, because the epsom salts can dry out!
I also made a photo back drop using a large baby blue cloth, and added some Christmas trees that Jeff drew out and cut out for me (Christmas trees are NOT one of my strengths), a couple gold stars, some glitterey white fabric for snow, and some snowflakes. I added some stuffing to the trees and snow to give it a little more form, and I must say, I’m pretty happy with the outcome!
On the day of, I packed up a few boxes with all my goodies, and thankfully had Jeff’s help to unload and carry everything over to Cucina Enoteca to get set up before everyone arrived. Above is my first attempt at some chalk art 😉 (credit also goes to Jeff who helped with some key elements!).
Cucina Enoteca provided an extra table for photo props as well as this little set up, where guests wrote out what they loved the most about Christmas on a paper ornament, then hung their ornament on one of the branch centerpieces. During dessert, we went around and read these aloud and tried to guess who wrote each one.
I didn’t get any pictures of the food, but it was all delicious, the service was great…
I had such a great time putting this event together, and from what I can tell, everyone that attended had a good time as well. Glad our first year sans gingerbread houses went ok!