Friday, December 24, 2010

The Big Give - The kindness of strangers

Well, it's one more sleep until the big man in red arrives in homes across the world. For us, it's also one more sleep until we have the privilege of enjoying our Christmas meal with 300 guests and 105 volunteers at The Big Give (you can read about it here, herehere and here).

It's been an amazing last week at Big Give headquarters, with some lows as suppliers haven't been able to come through, but many more highs when others have stepped in and outshone our expectations with their generosity and kindness.

We will have a huge list of thank you's to share with you after Christmas, but for now, I just wanted to share with you what was delivered to my house this morning.....

These were generously made by Kayla at Sweet Statements for the children attending The Big Give. We have worked with Kayla before, she made the fabulous Masquerade cake back in October for us. We have both also worked with Kayla in our other lives in the Corporate world. She is a super clever and delightful lady and we can't wait until she officially launches Sweet Statements in 2011.

Anyway, from our families to yours, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May your day be filled with friends, family, laughter and love - we know our's will be! We will be taking a short break after Christmas - but will be back in 2011 with lots of exciting things to share and inspire you all.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Danish Christmas Part 2: Let the Feast Begin

We are now on the home stretch for Christmas and it's time to start thinking food. Unlike at home in Australia, where we enjoy a long lazy lunch in the sun, here in Copenhagen we will celebrating on Christmas Eve.

Danish Christmas dinner is a ritual heavy with traditions. As Christmas approaches there is no discussion of whether the dinner will consist of lamb or beef, who will bring the salads and whether it is worth bothering with a hot pudding. Oh no no, dinner consists of three, prescribed and inflexible elements. Cookies, meat and rice pudding.

My boyfriend's mother has already begun preparations for this Danish Christmas feast with a round of baking that  can only be described as Martha Stewartesque. The resulting Christmas cookies with marzipan and vanilla squares will make for scrumptious pre (and post) dinner snacking.

When it's time to dig in to the main course two types of meat will be served. Slow roasted pork and  duck will be accompanied by potatoes. For those who are feeling particularly Nordic there will be some pickled herring- although I may leave that small element to the natives!

You may have noticed that this menu is primarily a meat lover delight. My boyfriend's mother insists that the Christmas meal excludes such decorative features because the people of Denmark are traditionally farmers who do not indulge in such light fare when celebrating feasts. Lucky for us modern office goers it is just the one day per year... 

The meal is crowned by a large serving of a curiously French named, but wholly Danish dessert tradition: Ris a la Mande (almond rice). Only served at Christmas time, Ris a la Mande is a cold rice pudding made almost entirely with whipped cream and glutinous rice. Flaked almonds are added and then the sumptuous pudding is topped with a rich cherry sauce.

It is truly delicious, which is probably why some canny Danish mum invented the tradition of sticking a whole almond in the pud. Whoever is lucky enough to find the unscathed almond gets a small gift. This little coup has the effect of making everyone eat extremely slowly for fear of smashing the precious almond with an overzealous bite.
It also prevents the tummy aches that would no doubt result from consuming too much whipped cream too quickly...

Merry Christmas (or Festive Season) to all!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Counting Down to Christmas…Sleigh Bells and Snow Bells….

We’re only just over a week away from Christmas now. Here in Copenhagen the ground is covered with a thick carpet of snow and the skyline is lit by a range of Christmas lights that shine all the way to the North Pole.

This is my second northern Christmas. Whilst I miss the lazy summer afternoons and ice cream Christmas pud that I associate so closely with Christmas at home, there are elements of ye olde school Christmas time (or Jule, pronounced Yule, as it is referred to here) that make it slightly more cosey than Southern Christmas. 

It’s not just about the snow outside or the Christmas tree lasting more than two days before drooping in the heat. It’s about the firm upkeep of traditions which just don’t translate to the Southern summer.

Sure, we have our own great traditions in Australia. And I think that one of the best things about Christmas in home is the multiculturalism. If you celebrate Christmas in Australia you probably have your own unique family traditions. Some stay up for midnight mass, but for others Christmas is more about family than religion. Some eat beef, others lamb or seafood. Some people have a big lunch; others wait to tuck into a large dinner. Some people are bound to purchase a gift for everyone in their family and other families decide to run a Kris Kringle instead.  It speaks volumes about the ability of Australians to forge their own cultures and traditions.

But no matter where your family hails from, chances are that somewhere along the line you have had to modify your Christmas traditions in order to make them work in the heat. Or maybe they have simply changed over a couple of generations to fit into a more relaxed lifestyle.

In contrast, the anchoring thing about a Christmas celebrated so far from home is that the traditions in Denmark are so strong. There are a lot of them, but this year I’ll just cover the countdown to Christmas…

First on the countdown list is a Christmas candle. This is a must for every Danish home to burn in the window each evening.  The Christmas candle is slightly different from a standard candle in that it has the numbers one to twenty four carved along the side.  Every evening you light the candle and wait for it to burn down to the next number before blowing it out and waiting for the next day to burn the next stage. For me the charming thing about the candles is watching them disappear day by day and knowing that the big event is getting closer and closer. It is a visual reminder of the anticipation we all feel for the coming celebrations.

Obviously playing with flames and candle wax in anticipation of is enough to delight any sensible child. But Danish children have the extra privilege of being on the receiving end of a beautiful tradition of advent calendars. Now when I was young, an advent calendar evolved some dodgy illustrations of Santa hiding some molded chocolate behind cardboard windows. There is none of that here.  

Here dedicated parents pick and individually wrap twenty four small, but personalized gifts. For example, one friend (although now an adult) always receives several batches of her favourite sweet- Danish salty liquorice. But it’s not all about sweets. It might be something like a skipping rope, or even a lottery ticket.  But it’s not really about what’s in the packages, it’s about the thought and attention that goes into creating something special and individual…building anticipation for a family event.

And you can get creative with this too. Even if you don’t have the time to invest in twenty four separate gifts you can easily do better than the old Cadbury calendar by creating the packaging. Check out these different themes to get you inspired for next year!

So cheers for now.

Next week- Christmas dinner!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Blue Christmas

Last night we shared with you the fun red and blue desert station we styled last weekend for a fabulous client. You can read all about it here, but to remind you, here's what inside looked like....

The client was keen to ensure the kids had a separate and special place to dine, that was still within eyesight of the adults table. Luckily the weather was on our side and we were able to use the tiered backyard to our advantage; placing the adults on the top tier (with the under 3's table) and the older kids on the bottom tier.

It worked really well and met the clients needs perfectly, although it meant we had 4 tables (including the desert station) to style! It was a big set up, but we were so prepared and even had a lovely little helper to assist, which made it all go super smoothly.

Now, the photos...

First up, the adults table. Like the inside, we used the printables we designed for Catch My Party blog to tie it all together. We also had silver/blue or silver/red trees on each of the tables and the same runners that we used inside, which gave the whole party a coordinated look.

We loved being able to use a combination of a large umbrella and the overhead hanging trees to create a canopy of pom poms and lanterns. It looked so festive and fun and it really 'popped' against the green of the trees.

Next up is the small table that we put together for the 'under-3' guests. We wanted them to be close to their parents, and to be honest, I think the older kids wanted them out of the way!!

We used a blue ikea table, which was the perfect size - and of course, the blue colour matched the theme! We added a small silver tree, some cute red stripy candy dishes, a runner and then a smaller version of the big kids table setting.

Finally, the big kids table. We used a similar set up to the other tables (no one could accuse us of not following through with a theme!) but added some small touches like little treat bags as well as some baby sized ribbon wands for the kids to play with (customised to match).

The treat bags contained some bubbles (wrapped in the same paper), some lollies, crayons and other assorted treats. They were a hit with the kids and certainly kept them entertained while the adults enjoyed their bubbles!

We have two quick thank you's before we sign off....

- Niki from Candy Soirees for the fabulous colour coded candy, the cute little red and white candy dishes and your laughter!
- Jillian from Catch My Party for inspiring our printables and your lovely support and very kind feedback!

And thats it! Hope you enjoyed our Red and Blue Christmas function. It was so much fun to style and we have already been re-booked for next year! Can't wait!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

(Red and) Blue Christmas...

Every year, a group of school friends get's together, with their families and celebrates Christmas with a big lunch, good wine and lots of laughs. This year, they decided to make it easier on themselves and ask us to do the theming and deserts for them...

We were so excited and our client was an absolute delight. Her only request.. lots of chocolate! We were more than happy to help out. Knowing that the lunch was taking place at a beach house, we wanted something fun, something modern and something that would transport well and pack up easily.

Alex created a fabulous menu that included....

- Rich fruit puddings, soaked in Cointreau and served with cream and custard
- Pavlova with mixed berries and chocolate shavings
- Vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing and jaffa 'berries'
- Christmas shortbreads
- White chocolate dipped strawberries
- Assorted home-made truffles in white, milk and dark chocolate
- Christmas mince tarts
- White chocolate dipped vanilla wafers, rolled in crushed candy canes

Along with a mix of colour coded candy (thanks Candy Soirees), the host couldn't have asked for any more chocolate!

As you can imagine, we took a heap of photo's, so tonight I will share the desert station with you all - as I know you love them - and will share the rest of the set up, which included 2 children's tables and a separate adults table, with you all tomorrow night... enjoy the photo's!

One final photo... we love that the family dog got in on the blue theme!

Tomorrow night we will bring you the adult and children's tables.....


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jean-ius style

So last week was all about girls and their tights. I felt a bit bad about being so girl focused, so this week I'm going to take on something a bit more boyish, or at least unisex.

The inspiration for this post goes like this. The other day I was walking home from a lunch meeting through some parkland quite close to our apartment. The canal was frozen over and covered with snow, like icing on a big cake. The trees were completely bare of leaves and the sky was a steely gray - creating the impression of a rather naff Christmas card. As I came over the final hill- thanking the lord for my gumboots and anticipating a nice warm cocoa- I almost fell upon a group of boys using the slope for some afternoon sledding! 

All bundled up with their mittens and scarves the children were tossing themselves down the hill with the energy of small, pink faced bolts of lightening and then running back up with little breaths choofing out of them like steam trains. It was a truly exhausting sight. And yet I was also more than a little jealous. (PS I am going to find my own sled this week.)

Needless to say, no one was wearing tights. For sledding you need something much sturdier. Something like jeans. They don't tear, they're nice and warm and they don't absorb water (too) quickly.

 Ok, I know that last week I was all down on jeans, but sometimes there is nothing better than a good pair of jeans to get you through an afternoon of raucous outdoor fun. And even though they can feel a bit like a uniform in winter, the wonderful thing about jeans is that they are so darn versatile. They can be for slopping around the house, or getting good and dirty outside or even making a high fashion statement.

And if you do it right then your little sledding monsters can look stylish as well. But remember, we're after comfort and style, not K-Fed.

To illustrate my point you can start with the basics from somewhere like H&M Kids. In Australia Cotton On Kids is a good equivalent, they produce all the latest styles cheap as chips for the kids to run, in, sled in and in not such a long time from now, grow out of.

But jeans can also make a statement if you want to have fun with them. Check out these pimped up Levi's with acid wash that looks like something from The Wedding Singer. Warning: these are only for people 14 and under. If you're conceivably old enough to have worn acid wash jeans on the first trip around the fashion merry go round then they are not for you. They are also not for taking your child to lunch with grandma in, or meetings with prospective schools etc etc. These are the birthday party and disco material.

Finally, we have the classy jeans. The investment piece, if you will. There are no trends or tricks with these. They're just nicely cut and finished with no embellishment. You know you can bring your little man out to dinner wearing these ones from Stella McCartney and, if he does not drop spaghetti sauce on them, he will look just like one of Brangelina's brood. 

If you're lucky and your kids don't grow too fast they may last a couple of years before you need to invest in a new pair...

Next week... Some Danish Christmas cheer!

Take care,
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...