A Low Key Holiday

Celebrate – the kids are cooking!


Greg and Jane Bensel decided to have a neighborhood Christmas party – and children are invited! Jane took a cue from a book she carries at her shop, The Stationer, called Kids in the Holiday Kitchen by Strand and Massman-Johnson. The children have lots of projects like writing letters to Santa, making white chocolate pretzel logs and creating marshmallow snowmen and grilled cheese sandwiches in the shape of a snowman. The secret for the adults to have fun as well is to keep the kids busy and entertained – a holiday movie starts right after their dinner.

We set up two tables and went to two of my favorite stores to pull them off: Judy at the Rink is responsible for the adult table and Orient Expressed for the front door and the children’s table. All of the adults received holiday aprons that we purchased last year at Orient Expressed, because they’re going to cook the adult meal while the children watch the show.

Judy has fabulous Le Jacquard tea towels that we used as napkins, two glitzy metallic trees, Capiz shell chargers with Annie Glass chargers and plates. Mary Rose Young designed the heart-shaped vases that we filled with hot pink and red gerbera daisies. The artsy glasses come in many different colors – for this party, we chose red ones. I designed the centerpiece with Julia Kline and Luis Colmenares, and added waffle cones for dessert. The children are getting the cones that we dipped in white chocolate and decorated with sprinkles. Both sets are filled with chocolate pots de crèmes with lots of whipped cream on top.

The children’s table, with Kate and Nelson Bensel eating the pretzel logs, is from Orient Expressed. We used Santa Plates as dinner plates and Enjoy plates for their creations. The green tree flanked by dragonflies completes the decoration. The children’s tree is wrapped with garland featuring brightly colored packages, and is accented with magnolia leaves. (In the photo, Jane oversees the projects and tries to keep them from eating everything before the other guests arrive.)

 Jane called everyone in the neighborhood first, and then reminded everyone with a Christmas garland invitation. Each figure had something about the party. The snowman said “We are going to cook,” the gingerbread man had the time, the ornament had the date and so on. The Stationer designs its own invitations. (See the box with
the more formal invitation if you wanted to get more of a “chic look.”)

The idea is to include families early in the holiday season – before it gets crazy. Use greenery such as pine and magnolia that you have in your garden, and get flowers from Whole Foods or the grocery store. Play holiday music, and have lots of activities to complete this early night!


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