Creating an Intentional Gathering ~ Holiday Hosting Guide from OMbassador Jill Emich
Hosting tips from OMbassador Jill Emich, owner of Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place on creating a perfect intentional gathering for the holidays, New Years Eve, and throughout 2014!
Gone are the days of the huge blowout drunken bashes where we all drink waaaaaay too much and make poor decisions we regret later. What the world needs now is connection sweet connection. Entertaining with the purpose of connection is where it is at these days and it is a bit of an art. With people’s busy lives and the social media and texting obsession, people crave quality face-to-face time. We need it now more than ever.
Here are my tips on the four elements of great intentional party to help you and your guests connect for a memorable nurturing experience.
Setting the Vibe
- Lighting/decor. You don’t want it to be too bright; it doesn’t allow your guests to relax. Dim the lights and put some candles around for ambiance and a warm glow, even in the bathroom. Flowers also add a nice touch, even if you get a few bouquets from the grocery store and put them in random jars and glasses around the house.
- Temperature. It should be comfortable, not too cold—in fact, warm—you want your guests to feel like they can peel off their layers (I, of course, am thinking Colorado Mountains, where I live!) and be comfortable, and even wear short sleeves or tanks in the middle of winter. Trust me, warm atmosphere will loosen up your guests and makes them feel more sassy.
- Music is KEY. Start with something mellow. If it’s the holidays, something like Billie Holiday or Frank Sinatra’s holiday songs on Pandora, or otherwise, something from Pandora like Buddha Bar, or Jose Gonzalez, Wax Tailor, or Angus and Julia Stone. As the evening progresses, if the vibe is heightening, so should the music. In the summertime, reggae is always good, Random Rab or Little Dragon are some of my personal favs, but you get the idea. Up your sleeve, have some great dance mixes because there is always that chance that a dance party could occur later in the evening!
- Room set up. Unless it is a sit down dinner party, don’t put too much seating out, put it more around the space rather then having people eat sitting at tables. Think mingling, so people can move around and socialize and not feel stuck next to the same person all night (we have all been there and it can be painful). It also allows for that later-in-the-evening games or dance party we talked about.
- What to wear. Pick something comfortable, yet something you feel sexy in. Decide ahead of time so you don’t need to be trying on and discarding your wardrobe around your closet area leading to additional stress and cleanup. My personal favorite is The OM Collection Hati Hati Dress that is comfortable AND hot.
Planning The Food
- Don’t overwhelm yourself. You don't want to be stuck in the kitchen all night or stressing over timing and getting everything done. Pick recipes that are tried and true and easily doable. It is important that you can relax and be part of the party. No one like the see a stressed host(ess). It is a vibe killer. I've included my favorite Shine recipes at the end of this blog.
- Style of food. Except maybe if it is Superbowl Sunday or New Years Day where we really crave heavy booze-soaking comfort food, think high energy food that will keep your guests feeling good and not crashing upon ingesting. I have included a few of my favorite party food favorites. Think dense protein, grains/breads and veggies. Keep in mind allergies and dietary restrictions to make sure there is something for everyone. I’ve included two of my favorite Shine appetizer recipes: Chicken Skewers and Beet Hummus at the end of this blog.
- Arrangement of food. Display the food on nice platters and garnish appropriately. Everything looks more festive with either some edible flowers (rose petals, nasturtiums, marigolds etc.) or some chopped parsley here and there in the winter. If you are utilizing a big space or multiple rooms, think of putting stations of food around to spread out guests (we tend to huddle around the food table).
Choosing The Drinks
Fun! I LOVE the drink part!
- Make it FESTIVE with a theme. People use alcohol as a social crutch (lets be honest) so lets give them something interesting and intentional. Local beer is fun. Nowadays there are a lot of amazing local breweries in your area and most of them sell growlers of beer (We do at Shine!), that guests will enjoy tasting and discussing; same with local wines.
- What to Provide. It is a great idea for the host(ess) to make a spiked punch (summer), play on eggnog (holidays) or like we like to create at Shine,… a potion. This is a non-alcoholic herb based intentional, mood based beverage with gem essences, flower essences, and additional essences. We have them for sale at Shine or if you are feeling extra inventive, you can make one yourself like the Liquid Hush (recipe at end of blog). When mixing alcohol, rule of thumb is about 20% alcohol to base or just mix to taste and you should be able to taste both components without overpowering one another. Also, be sure to have water out for guests--you don’t want guests starting to get glazed over from too much booze and dehydration. Spice up your water, by adding frozen cranberries for the winter/holiday vibe to the pitcher, it’s a festive touch.
Selecting The Guest List
- Quality not quantity. Keep this in mind when making your guest list. Who would mesh well with whom, what size feels right, put intention into it, don’t just invite for the social class of it or to see how many people you can cram in. I guarantee you will have a more memorable experience with the right mix of people.
These simple steps can help you create an ambiance in which your guests will feel comfortable and relaxed. An intentional party makes for great memories, connections, and new and deepened relationships. Be open to the magic!
Favorite Shine Recipes for a Stress-Free Intentional Gathering
Chicken Skewers Serves 4
Chicken skewers with dipping sauce, sausages with peppers (you can get pre-cooked sausages, I like Niman Ranch, just make sure you caramelize* both the peppers and sausage for the most flavor), and a variety of cheeses.
1 1lb chicken breast or thighs deboned and skinless cut into bite sized pieces about the size of a finger
Sprinkle of Olive Oil
Salt to Taste
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon chopped Cilantro (optional)
Bamboo Skewers soaked in water for 20 minutes (so they don’t burn when you cook)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, mix the cut up chicken, salt and generously sprinkle with olive oil, lime juice and cilantro. Skewer the chicken but make sure it isn’t all the way through the skewer (kind of like a lollipop). Layer in a 2-4 inch deep pan and cook for about 45 minutes. For larger quantities adjust cook time to about 1 hour or so. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Get your pan hot, add oil (coconut is my favorite because it has a high smoke temp and great health benefits, you don’t want your oil smoking too much) add the meat and or veggies and salt (if needed) stir occasionally but not too much, the whole point is to have the veggies blister some and the meat to brown. Sometimes with veggies it you can even cover the pan for a few minutes to allow quicker carmelization to occur.
Beet hummus Serves 4-6
Beet hummus with some crudité vegetables and crackers (think about going gluten free here) and fresh bread.
4 Medium Beets, scrubbed to remove any dirt
¼ c Tahini Paste
2T Olive Oil
¼ cup Lemon Juice
1-2 Garlic Cloves, rough chopped
Sea Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub beets with olive oil and a bit of salt. Roast whole. Cook until the beets are easily pierced through with a fork. Be sure not to over roast! When cooled enough to handle, rub skins off with cloth. Chop beets and put in food processor with remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Serve with crackers or bread.
LIQUID HUSH ~ A relaxation-potion for ease and calm-centeredness
A steamed mix of Coconut Milk, Vanilla Bean Powder and Vanilla Agave with a magical tincture that includes: Herbs: Chamomile, Motherwort, Lavender
Gemstone Essence: Moonstone, Rose Quartz
Environmental Essence: Redwood Forest, California
Learn more about OMbassador Jill Emich and Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place