Photo: Toasting with Mississippi Muscadine Wine from Old South Winery
Like most other things this year, the holidays are going to look a bit different than normal. But fear not! If you want to make the most of this holiday season and celebrate with immediate family and friends in your home, there are still ways to make your holiday meal safe and special.
Over the last few months, Erica of Elevated Occasions provided 100% virtual/remote event planning services (from Chicago) to client Crystal Moore of Jackson, Mississippi for her annual Friendsgiving dinner.
Like many others, Crystal—an Xavier University of Louisiana alum—was missing her annual HBCU homecoming trip to New Orleans; she wanted a way to safely connect with a small group of friends. Erica helped plan this gathering from afar and provided strategic consulting and guidance on bringing the client’s vision to life.
Here are a helpful tips & tricks to bring you some peace of mind as you head into the holiday:
Before the event.
First and foremost, follow all CDC recommended guidelines. Narrow down the guest list to less than 6 people; more vulnerable family and friends can be invited to attend via Zoom. For Crystal’s dinner, guests were required to take rapid COVID tests within 72 hours of attending the dinner. Of course, give your home a deep clean before the dinner and have plenty of hand sanitizer available. You also might want to consider custom masks for everyone to wear. Doing these few tasks will make guests in attendance feel comfortable and at ease – key ingredients to any successful celebration!
If you are gathering in your home, this is the perfect time to use your formal dining room — or, if you’re in a small apartment, simply jazz up a small kitchen or bistro table. Adding nice decor elements will give you that holiday feel. If you’re in an area with warmer weather, consider your backyard or patio for great air circulation.
Photo: Client Crystal M. in front of her Jackson, Mississippi home.
Now is the PERFECT time to hire a private chef to either provide drop-off service or cook (safely at a distance) at your home depending on your local ordinances. Instead of all of your guests bringing a dish, hiring a chef to handle the meal keeps food prep centralized and more controlled.
For this Friendsgiving event, Crystal hired Chef Nick Wallace to create a nontraditional, Southern Farm to Table dinner. The menu featured Oysters 3-ways, Fresno Pepper Cornbread with Maple Butter and Pork Belly, Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, a Fall Harvest Salad, Garlic & Herb Roasted Lamb Chops, and an Apple Tart with Goat Cheese Chantilly. All food was sourced locally from Mississippi farms. The chef and servers wore masks/gloves, and followed extreme safety guidelines. Photo: Garlic & Herb Roasted Lamb Chop with Fall Squash Purée, Braised Collard greens, Peewee Potatoes, Fig Port Sauce
Photo: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, with Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas
Prepared by Nick Wallace Culinary
Photo: Apple Tart Salad Plate with Goat Cheese Chantilly
Prepared by Nick Wallace Culinary
Decor and Table Settings.
This is the time to break out your formal china, or as your Grandmother would say “The good stuff.” If you don’t want to do that, we recommend renting a tablescape in a box from one of several online companies that deliver directly to your doorstep. We used online tablescape company Social Studies for this celebration. Through Social Studies, you can choose a beautifully curated party kit for $30 to $50 per person. The party kit will come directly to your doorstep, all neatly packaged with sanitized dishes, flatware, and decorations and ready for you to easily unpack and set up. We recommend washing them again upon arrival as an extra safety step.
Photo: Broken Beauty Tablescape via Social Studies
Activity of Gratitude.
Given the year we’ve all had, this is a great time for people to reflect and give thanks. While you can have everyone go around the table and share, you can also have people write it out on a little note card or piece of paper, which can be saved as a keepsake. This is also a good opportunity to incorporate via Zoom, friends and family who can’t attend in person.
Photo: Socially distanced cooking demonstration by Nick Wallace Culinary
Whether you’re celebrating virtually, in-person, or somewhere in the middle this year, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!
Remote/Virtual Event Planning & Consulting: Planned 100% virtually from Chicago by Elevated Occasions. We leveraged phone & video calls and e-mail; client was also provided with detailed instructions on decor, menu, week/day-of timeline, and decor customization. Instagram: @Elevated Occasions w: https://www.elevatedoccasions.com/
Chef: Nick Wallace Culinary
Table Decor Rental: Social Studies
Photography: Alex Duckworth Photography
Crystal’s Outfit: Tuckernuck
Crystal’s Jewelry: Lele Sadoughi via Rent the Runway
Venue: Private Home in Jackson, Mississippi