Red shoes that don't scream Rudolph? All over it. Shimmery eye-shadow to subtly accent your art-deco diamond bangle? You know it. When it comes to the holidays, we're pretty primed to get our party on vis–à–vis our outfit and beauty game. But—secret time—our festive skills might be lacking in other departments, like, uh, actually throwing that aforementioned party. To help us (and you) get really involved in the whole eat, drink, and be merry thing, we've whipped up a three-part entertaining series that will have you sending out invites to a seasonal soiree faster than you can say vodka. Whether you're looking to host really, really intimate cocktails (small-spacers, this one's for you), finally fill out your dining room table, or get a chic crowd together for some late-night action, we've tapped three NYC folks who know what they're doing to give us photo diaries of their big (or tiny) events.
First up we've got Tala Yasseri and Andrea Rajacic, founders of The New York Issue, a full service, bespoke event production agency whose clients range from Lovecat magazine to cool Chelsea boutique Behaviour. The gourmet-inclined gals invited us into Tala's stunning Soho apartment for a five-course dinner party for six. With hand-written place-cards, late autumn ingredients (squash and pomegranates), french jazz, fresh white lilies and peonies, and tons of Diptyque's Baies candles ("they have a very distinctive unisex smell," says Tala), it's a wonder we're still not there. Oh, and let's not forget the cocktails—Yasseri and Rajacic whipped up three custom-cocktails that were on-point for the November chill, and potent enough to have us barely remembering we ate too many eclairs. Now that's a sign of a good hostess.
Check out all the inspiring snaps from their dinner, plus the duo's tips for throwing your own memorable holiday event. Look out for next's week part two—we'll show you how to entertain in a 240-square-foot-space. Yes, it's possible.
"We love to use place cards for intimate dinner parties—the host personally knows all of the guests coming, so they are in charge of seating them in a way that conversation will flow. The paper for the place cards is a thick, black, matte variety with a sateen finish which we got at Print Icon. We then used a silver gel pen to hand-write the names for a personal touch."
"Lighting is one of the most important elements in creating an ambiance. For dinner parties we always dim the lights and use lots of candles."
"Whether it's mixing and matching the china or combining several different elements to create a centerpiece, we try to steer clear of the traditional when setting a table."
"We love to serve our favorite Italian red wine, Colle Sori Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. It has a smooth and full-bodied taste that goes very well with rice, pasta, and red meat. You can find it at Granyette on Grand street in Soho."
"Squash soup with a serving of creme fraiche and parsley—it's always a good idea to cook using food that is freshest at that time of year. For this dinner we used pumpkin, squash, and pomegranate seeds."
"Specialty cocktails are always a surprise element at a party. For this particular drink menu we infused some traditional Persian elements like saffron, pomegranate seeds, and Sekanjebin (AKA mint syrup). 1.To make the Saffron Vodka. dilute the saffron with hot water, then add to vodka. Make sure you measure so that when you add the vodka it becomes nice and yellow. Add 2oz of saffron vodka to 1oz of sour cherry juice as well as a couple of drops of fresh lemon juice, then shake on ice. Serve in desired glass and then sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds."
"For the Sour Cherry Vodka you'll need 2oz vodka and 2oz sour cherry juice. Shake on ice, then pour in desired glass. Add ginger ale to fill the glass. Top off with a few mint leaves, fresh sour cherries, and pomegranate seeds."
"Pomegranate seeds are a great addition to many drinks. For an easier recipe, add a few to a glass of Prosecco—it will not only taste good, but will also look beautiful."
"Our sever Blake with the final product. For a successful dinner party, it's a great idea to hire a server. This allows the host to be free to entertain the guests."
"Saffron Risotto. Secret recipe :) But the main ingredients are: rice, yoghurt, saffron, chicken, and eggs. We garnished the risotto with cooked barberries, carrots, and raisins."
"Use a silver-leaf oversized tray to serve hors d'oeuvres. It makes the food look like part of the decoration. Chopped scallops in a cream sauce with celery, radish, and parsley on wheat toast makes an excellent, easy hors d'oeuvre."
"For a five-course meal we typically like to serve an assortment of cheeses and fig jam as the second course. This time we served Gruyere, Gouda with cranberries, Gorgonzola, and a Pont l'Eveque (all bought at Whole Foods), as these typically go very well with the fig jam."
"Andrea preparing the Beet Carpaccio. To make this Carpaccio you'll need some beets, greek yoghurt, parsley, and pepper. Put a layer of greek yoghurt in a big, shallow platter, then thinly slice the beets and layer them in a circular pattern on the the bead of yoghurt".
"Crudely rip and sprinkle parsley to throw over and then finish with pepper to taste and voila! The finished Beet Carpaccio".
"We chose to serve a variety of desserts from Francois Payard on Houston including eclairs, lemon tarts, chocolate tarts, and a chocolate soufflé."
Photographed by Mark Iantosca