Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Homegrown Inspiration: DIY Christmas Centerpieces and A Champagne Cocktail

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Mrs. Meyers Clean Day®, in an effort to
encourage finding just a little but if your own Home Grown Inspiration.
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My husband and I have always loved entertaining friends and family at our home. I can remember in the very early months of our marriage hosting a holiday dinner party in our very small quaint two bedroom apartment. From setting up plastic folding tables and metal folding chairs to using our wedding china place settings, we made sure to pull out all the stops. I'm fairly certain I even convinced my husband to trim our Christmas tree long before Thanksgiving in order to "set the tone" for the occasion. I wanted everything to be perfect and let's face it, although much has changed since that very first dinner party, my expectations of food and decor have waned but little.

Over the years our holiday entertaining style has grown and changed with the addition of babies into our social circle. Our gatherings have not only necessitated the addition of kid-friendly decor but also menu items that were more toddler-palate pleasing. 

Filling our home with friends and family during the holiday season is not only festive and fun but it truly gives me great joy to be able to celebrate the end of another year in the busy season of our lives together. I love being able to gather around a table and catch up on each others' lives, share holiday traditions and, of course, spend the majority of the time talking about our children, as only parents of little ones are prone to do. 

This is the first year since becoming parents four years ago that we will be hosting an "adults only" cookies and cocktail party. While we love getting together with our children in tow, it will be nice to be able to focus on conversation without wondering which child is screaming "Mommy?!" from the playroom or having to leave the table several hundred times to cut up turkey, fix juice box straws or break up meal time skirmishes.

Even though our gathering isn't for another month or so, I've already begun seeking inspiration from within our home and planning everything from the menu down to the decor. With little time to execute the grand plans swirling around in my head, my goal for this year's festivities is to keep them merry and bright but above all, simple. 

Speaking of bright, our mantel, server and table tops will each be adorned with these easy festive floating candles. Whether by themselves or as an accent to a larger centerpiece, these easy DIY decorations will add just the kind of ambiance to our home that I'm seeking. Not to mention the sweet smell of evergreen is an added bonus! All you need is a vase or mason jar, fresh evergreen, pine cones, cranberries and tea light candles. 

Place your branches in the bottom of your vase or mason jar. The more you stuff down in there, the heavier the weight will be and the less likely they will float to the top once you add water. Add water and a handful of fresh cranberries. Carefully place your tea light candles on top and take extra care when lighting them. 

As for the second most important part of our Cookies & Cocktails gathering, I plan to serve a signature Champagne cocktail that began making an appearance at holiday family gatherings of my youth but because it contained alcohol, obviously, it was always off limits to me as a child. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to imbibe in these delicious bubbly "spirits" of Christmas and I'm excited to share them with friends and family early next month.

Soak a single sugar cube in bitters before dropping it into a chilled champagne glass. Pour over it a Brute champagne of your choice. Garnish with a fresh lemon peel before serving!

Something else I've been focusing on as we get party-ready is getting our house, especially the kitchen area, or the heart of our home, in some semblance of order to host forty of our closest family and friends. 

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day® cleaning products have always inspired me to put in a little extra elbow grease when it comes to making our house a home. Inspired by a backyard garden deep in the heart of the Midwest, sweet and savory ingredients such as Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Basil and Geranium are often front and center of these cleaning products and bring an added dimension of warmth to "just cleaning the kitchen."

With a house full of small children, especially ones that are known to lick the occasional tabletops and counter top, not only is it important to me to keep a clean house but to keep a clean house using safe products without harsh chemical additives. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day® is a collection of household products made with essential oils from flowers and herbs that not only smell great but also pack a hearty punch against dirt and grime. Each of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day® products are earth-friendly, cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

Each time I stand at my sink and use Mrs. Meyers Clean Day® Lavender dish soap, I'm immediately transported back to the kitchen of my Great Aunt Laura where the smell of fresh lavender, that she often grew out on the metal grate of the fire escape, would permeate the entire first floor of apartment. It's a sweet pause in the middle of an otherwise busy and chaotic day that brings me back to why I love making our house a home in the first place. 

A place where friends and family can gather, to support, celebrate and encourage one another.

Whether it's homegrown inspiration from your backyard, your Great Aunt Laura's fire escape, or a DIY project, Mrs. Meyers Clean wants to know about the home you're making. For more tips and home inspiration, visit the Mrs. Meyers Clean Day® blog

How will you be seeking inspiration to entertain this holiday season?

Thank you, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day® for inspiring me to continue entertaining in our home. 
All thoughts expressed above are honest and my own.

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