Entertaining At Home

Issued : December 2019

A Christmas Tale …

Christmas and New Year is a time for social gatherings with family and friends. It’s a time when you and your home have to step up to the challenge. Making your home even more welcoming than usual and dressing it to impress to receive guests will set the festive scene and bring added glamour to your celebration party, Christmas luncheon, Christmas cocktails or New Year party…

Almost Essential provides the inspiration and invaluable support, if required, to planning and creating memorable festive and celebratory times. Founder, Michelle de Biolley believes it’s all about the preparation with an eye to effortless style too.

We explore the Almost Essential treasure chest of beautiful products, great gifts and amazing services to give your Christmas that extra sparkle. www.almostessential.com


Tip-top table …

Set a scene-stealing table with elegant Biot glassware in a combination of glacial clear and rubine red tones for a sophisticated winter theme. These beautiful hand-blown glasses from the South of France add an elegant touch. Add Umbrian hand embroidered napkins in a soft dusky tone.

Ice Ice Baby …

Pop your bottles of bubbly into a cool crystal champagne cooler. Match with the complementing ice bucket. Both are crafted from the finest lead crystal and finished with a handsome hallmarked sterling silver foot. The silver can be engraved or the crystal etched with your initials or perhaps a joyful message for gifting, which will also make them perfect presents. Crystal champagne cooler 19cm, £395 and crystal ice bucket 15 cm, £295.

To add a flourish to the Christmas table choose Almost Essential top pick Florist, Chris Jones to create your festive flowers. Consider a table centre which always adds an elegant touch and perhaps fresh festive napkin rings with small sprigs of spruce and berries alongside a handsome wreath punctuating the front door… be sure to choose something beautiful for the entrance hall too which says Christmas is here and all guests are welcome. Chris can work to a contemporary or classic Christmas theme brief, he is an artist at heart and his floral designs will lend a magical mood to your home.

All the fun of Christmas fayre …

Lighten the load this Christmas and New Year and use the services of a highly skilled professional chef – it needn’t cost the earth when considering the huge effort of planning the menu and preparing everything yourself, not to mention juggling deadlines and coping with a house full of guests on the lead up to the big event. So let the chefs take the strain and don’t feel guilty. Michelle has some of the best in the business on her radar. We’ve highlighted a couple of stars from the group to help ease the burden and what a stylish way to entertain your guests in the comfort of your own home…

At your service …

Chef Sophie is a young, energetic chef who has mastered the art of all round catering. She prepares and cooks the most mouth-watering dinners or can put together a superb buffet or dinner À deux.

Chef Paco has cooked many lunches and dinners for Michelle, his friendly demeanour and fantastic can-do attitude is a boon. Tasty dishes filled with quality ingredients and an Italian twist if required; ensure your guests will be delighted at the table. He has many skills, from helping with your menu planning to the creation of large-scale buffets and wonderful ‘eat me’ canapés for that special Christmas Cocktails gathering you have planned.

So why not treat yourself this Christmas and New Year and enjoy the party by having more time with friends and family. Chef Sophie and Chef Paco can be contacted through the Almost Essential website, located on the ‘services’ section.


The happy hostess

If you’re seeking some inspiration for that perfect hostess gift. Look no further, than the fun silver coated ice cream tub with lid and spoon – it could be just the ticket to surprise and delight your hostess. Michelle has sourced a stylish textured finish version and it fits any standard ice cream tub including the Haagen Dasz and Ben & Jerry brands. It measures 12cm high with an 11cm diameter at widest part at the top and comes complete with a lid and spoon. The tub can also be personalised with a name or initials.

Be sure to please the most discerning hostess this Christmas and New Year with a present of a personalised wine gift. Chene Bleu’s clever and inventive, award winning wine and gift box which can be personalised to include your hostess name and a little message of your choice must be top of your shopping list.

Chene Bleu have been described as couture wines, they come from a family owned single estate winery high in the Dentelles de Montmirail above Gigondas situated in the Southern Rhone. Small batches of limited edition wines await the discerning gift giver and lucky hostess. For further information about this great wine discovery, visit the Almost Essential website/ Chene Bleu. Prices begin at £25 increasing, dependent on the vintage and packaging selection. Great hostess gifting has never been easier … www.almostessential.com

Wrap it up

The thrill of seeing beautiful packages and boxes bedecked with shimmering paper, chic satin ribbon and trails of faux berries with beautifully crafted labels in a kaleidoscope of colours, textures and sizes beneath a tree fills family and friends with delight. Michelle has found a marvellous gift-wrapping company that has everything and more to help you create perfectly packaged gifts.

Helpful Christmas hacks from Michelle de Biolley ‘fir’ a stress free festive home:
If you choose to have a fresh cut Christmas tree, Nordmann firs are less likely to drop their needles than Norway spruces.
Try not to hang anything edible on low hanging branches if you have animals. Chocolate is delicious to dogs and not safe for them. They may even pull the tree over. It can be incredibly tempting for the little ones too!

Clever packing with clearly written labels and boxes for your Christmas tree and home decorations is the key to the enjoyment of unpacking them without feeling stressful the following year. It can be so frustrating if you cannot locate your favourite decorations or lights or need to wade through the recesses of the loft or a hard to reach space. Keep it simple and if possible, try to have a dedicated place in the home that can be left undisturbed for the entire year.